So, I went to go see Repo! : The Genetic Opera last night at the Clinton Street Theater.
Let me get this out of the way. Repo! is not good. It’s a bad movie. One of the audience members around me said that it was introduced to him as “Soon to be the worst movie of the year”. This is probably unfair, given the scope of shit that Hollywood produces, but it is not a Little Shop of Horrors. It’s not a Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s not even a The Craft. But the director, who was there for the screening, came out and read one review that called it “A movie without an audience”. And that, given that it completely packed the Clinton theater, at 10pm on a Monday, is total bullshit.
Comparisons to The Rocky Horror Picture Show are as inevitable as they are correct. The same crowd that showed up for this could easily have been there for Rocky. Some of them may have been there the previous night FOR Rocky. Drama fags, chunky goth girls, guys with neckbeards and leather dusters, the crowd had them all in droves.
Visually, the movie was 100% on target. It looked like Bladerunner and the video for Closer had a baby and smeared it down with some drippings leftover from a Tokyo Gore Police set. Anthony Head’s Repo Man is a fantastic character concept, executed perfectly. Ditto Sarah Brightman’s “Blind Mag”, stunning concept, amazing makeup. I don’t even really need to go on, sufficed to say – if a movie could make me happy on visuals alone, this one would have done it.
Story. This movie had a linear story. There were no twists, no turns, no detours. Even twists and turns they had options on, they chose not to take. It was like a playground slide. Not the crazy spiral one, just that one made out of stamped tin that goes straight down and deposits you into the credits. The universe was painted very thin, presumably all of humanity only lives in this one town now. The whole setup was laid out in a storyboard (a beautifully drawn comic-book style storyboard I might mention) in the first four minutes. The ending doesn’t make much sense, nor should you particularly care about it. Evil characters stay uniformly evil. You find out that one of the “good” characters is evil about twelve seconds in. The most interesting character (Graverobber, played by Terrance Zdunich, who will win the Academy Award for “least likely name” this year) got panned by the camera three times and largely ignored. He was, of course, absolutely throw away as far as the plot was concerned, but I understand why they were loathe to leave him out, because you immediately wanted to know more. As a matter of fact, I think that the story might have been better had we followed HIM around instead of listening to Rotti Largo (how can you _not_ love Paul Sorvino) sing about his idiot children (I could not make out a single word that Pavi Largo/Nivek Ogre sang/said in the entire film, this will be addressed in the next section).
The singing. OK, I know, this says Opera on the box. I shouldn’t be looking for a musical… but I am, seriously. That’s what people are looking for. They want a Musical. You know why? American english does not work very well in a full operatic setting. Especially when people are singing against an accompaniment of rock music, and also singing “over each other” in traditional Opera style. Fully two thirds of the “big” musical numbers were incomprehensible auditory mash. Every time Anthony Head opened his mouth, there was an electric guitar swell that obscured the first half of the sentence. And, instead of using a traditional operatic method, which breaks conversations from their normal “Hey” “Hey” “Want coffee?” “Sure” staccato into longer expository verses, conversations held with long stanzas, they decided to just have everybody sing everything. So, a conversation like this.
“Hello, Shiloh” (again, I point out, the rock swell caused me to hear her name as Shadow for the first hour… HOUR of the movie)
“I am pretty tired.”
“Yeah, me too”
Would all be sung. No rhyme, no meter, just “Hey, daaaaaad!” “Hellloooooooooo”
There were three notable musical numbers which were very well done. Graverobber’s “Zydrate comes in a little glass vial” was pitch perfect, as was Shiloh’s “I’m 17” song, and then the Repo Man’s “Night Doctor” bit. Everything else was a little mashed together, or just felt kind of pointless. I really can’t say I liked any musical number that had Ogre/Pavi in it, but that might be just because straining to figure out what the fuck he might have just burbled out was annoying.
In the end, I don’t know. I wouldn’t necessarily have picked Rocky to be as long lived as it is, but I think this has cult classic written all over it. The costumes are easy enough to make yourself out of stuff from Hot Topic and Goodwill, it’s got adequate singalong potential. Do I think it’s a movie without an audience? No. Do I think the audience is very big? No. But I do think it’s a crime that this movie can’t get wide distribution when a shit sandwich like Ultraviolet gets put into hundreds of theaters.
In short, if it’s coming to your town, it won’t kill you to go catch a glimpse of what your kids will be throwing toast at in 20 years.