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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New rock opera film makes an impression in Pittsburgh

submitted by Deena

Greed, deception, betrayal, tragedy, hope--what could possibly improve these timeless theatrical themes? How about a futuristic setting, industrial opera music, and gore...lots of gore.

Repo! The Genetic Opera, a new rock musical horror movie, recently made its way through Pittsburgh. I was one of the fortunate few who had not pre-ordered tickets and still made it into the sold-out showing last Friday. Director Darren Lynn Bousman (of Saw II-IV fame) and screenwriter/actor Terrance Zdunich (who plays Graverobber in the film) were on hand for Q&A after the show.

A quick summary: Based on the stage production of the same name written by Zdunich and Darren Smith, Repo! takes place in 2056, when an epidemic of organ failures devastates the planet. GeneCo, a monolithic biotech company, offers organ transplants for a hefty price but provide financing to seal the deal. However, miss a payment and you'll be visited by the Repo Man, who may end up being the last person you ever see. Cosmetic surgery is at its peak too, and addicts get hooked on painkilling drugs which they seek out on the streets. Amidst all this, Shilo (Alex Vega)is searching for answers about her own rare disease and her family's mysterious history, which is somehow tied to GeneCo.

Though Bousman and Zdunich touted Repo! as a "low-budget" film (it was shot digitally instead of on film and made with $8,500,000), the production and effects (both the CG and all the bloody horror stuff) looked amazing. The production value of the music was great, too, thanks to X Japan's Yoshiki Hayashi.

While some of the acting was a bit over-the-top (but I'd say that's sort of to be expected in a musical film), the cast is certainly quite worthy vocally: real life opera diva Sarah Brightman plays a major role; Anthony Stewart Head, whose musical credits include a stint as Frank-N-Furturer in the London revival cast of The Rocky Horror Show, plays a convincing role as Shilo's father by day/Repo Man by night; Nivek Ogre, best known for his work with Skinny Puppy, plays an amusing side character. Alexa Vega's (from the Spy Kids movies) voice is a dead ringer for Avril Lavigne (if you like that sort of thing); Paris Hilton holds her own in a role she was born to play; and even Paul Sorvino's vocal talents are quite respectable; in fact, according to his bio on imdb.com, he originally aspired to be an opera singer rather than an actor.

And according to the World Entertainment News Network, if Paris Hilton has her way, she's taking Repo! to Broadway because she's convinced the project could be a hit. While she has been offered Broadway roles in the past, nothing took her fancy, but "if they did Repo on stage I'd do it because I really believe in it and I love it, but I wouldn't do anything else."

For more information on Repo!, check out their website:


Scott said...

I was thinking of going to this but didn't get a chance (and I guess i wouldn't have gotten in anyway). It sounds interesting!

Deena said...

I found out about it at the last minute just a few days before the show and then didn't think to call for tickets until that day so of course it was sold out. The girl I talked to said they would release a limited number at the door, so I went and took my chances. There were people waiting as early as 6:30; I went to dinner and got in line around 8:30 I think and ended up being around #30 in line. Not sure how many they ended up turning away after the line grew. It certainly was a good choice of city to show the film, what with our love of Rocky Horror and horror movies in general. At the Q&A, though, they asked for a show of hands of people who traveled over 50 miles to see the film, and I swear half the audience raised their hands. It was pretty impressive because there were already cult followers that showed up in costume singing the songs.