Repo! The Genetic Opera
|Repo! The Genetic Opera|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Darren Lynn Bousman|
|Produced by||Mark Burg
Darren Lynn Bousman
|Screenplay by||Terrance Zdunich
|Based on||The Necromerchant's Debt
by Terrance Zdunich and Darren Smith
Anthony Stewart Head
|Music by||Terrance Zdunich
|Editing by||Harvey Rosenstock|
|Running time||97 minutes|
Repo! The Genetic Opera is a 2008 American horror-rock opera musical film directed by Darren Lynn Bousman. The film is based on the 2002 play, The Necromerchant's Debt, which was written and composed by Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich.
The film took in an average of $3,250 per screen on its opening day. A 22-track soundtrack was released online on September 30, 2008, with an extended version containing 38 tracks released almost exclusively for download on February 20, 2009. The DVD and Blu-ray were released January 20, 2009.
By the year 2056, an epidemic of organ failures has devastated the planet. The mega-corporation GeneCo provides organ transplants on a payment plan. Clients who default on payments are hunted down by Repo Men: skilled assassins contracted by GeneCo to repossess organs, usually killing the clients in the process. The CEO of GeneCo, Rotti Largo, discovers he is terminally ill. Rotti's three children, Luigi, Pavi, and Amber bicker over who will inherit GeneCo. Rotti believes none of his children are worthy heirs and instead plans to pass on his fortune to a girl named Shilo.
Meanwhile, 17-year-old Shilo Wallace longs to explore the outside world but has been told by her overprotective father Nathan that she inherited a rare blood disease from her deceased mother Marni which requires her to stay indoors. She secretly visits her mother's tomb and runs into GraveRobber, who is digging up bodies to drain Zydrate, a euphoric pain-killer. After losing consciousness, Shilo wakes up to find herself at home with Nathan. Nathan prepares for work, not as the doctor he has led Shilo to believe he is, but as the head Repo Man for GeneCo.
The Largo siblings' arguing continues at the GeneCo Renaissance Fair, where the siblings harass Blind Mag, GeneCo's opera singer and celebrity spokesperson. Mag uses surgically enhanced eyes but works for Rotti indefinitely as a result. After introducing her to Mag, Rotti stations his Genterns to guard Shilo. He then announces that Mag will soon give the last performance of her career. GraveRobber helps Shilo escape the fairgrounds. As they hurry through the city, GraveRobber encounters several of his customers including the surgery addict Amber. Under the stupor of the drug, she explains that she will be replacing Blind Mag after her eyes are repossessed following the opera. After GeneCops arrive, GraveRobber and Shilo part ways and she quickly returns to her room before Nathan notices she was gone.
Rotti hires Nathan to repossess Mag's eyes but Nathan refuses, citing Mag's close relationship to Marni. This angers Rotti and he vows to have Nathan taken out. Mag arrives at Shilo's house and reveals she is Shilo's godmother, saying she was unaware Shilo was alive. She cautions Shilo to not make the same mistakes she did. Nathan arrives home and forces Mag out after she scolds him for lying to her about Shilo's death. Meanwhile back at GeneCo, Rotti signs his will, leaving Shilo as his sole beneficiary.
Rotti phones Shilo and invites her to the Opera, delivering her mother's burial dress for her to wear. Nathan finds the GeneCops searching his basement. They try to arrest Nathan, but he quickly dispatches them and heads to the opera looking for Shilo. At the opera, Amber takes the stage for her premiere, but her performance is ruined when her transplanted face falls off. Mag takes to the stage and sings her final song. She deviates from the song's grand finale, denouncing the Largo family and gouging out her eyes in a final act of defiance. Rotti cuts the cords suspending Mag, dropping and impaling her on a fence. Rotti assures everyone that Mag's death is part of the performance and convinces the audience to stay seated.
Shilo sees a Repo Man arrive and attacks him with a shovel before realizing the Repo Man is her father. Onstage, Rotti reveals that Nathan has been making Shilo ill by giving her poisoned medicine. Unable to deal with the loss of Marni, Nathan explains he was trying to keep Shilo safe from the world. Approaching death's door, Rotti tells Shilo that she will inherit GeneCo if she kills her father. When she refuses, Rotti uses the last of his strength to shoot Nathan. Rotti then dies from his terminal illness and Nathan dies with one last farewell to Shilo. Shilo then leaves, free at last to live her own life.
In the epilogue, GraveRobber claims that Shilo fled, leaving GeneCo with no legal heir. A scene during the end credits reveals that Amber became GeneCo's new CEO and promised to change the repossession policy.
Cast of characters
- Alexa Vega as Shilo Wallace, a 17-year-old girl confined to her room due to the alleged blood disorder she inherited from her mother. She is the film's primary protagonist, who dreams of existing in the world outside of her bedroom, which she considers her prison. While she initially strives to obey her father's rules about never going outside, later in the story, she becomes more and more assertive, attempting to earn her independence.
- Paul Sorvino as Rotti Largo, the primary antagonist; the ailing GeneCo president, looking for a worthy heir. He sees his own children, Luigi, Pavi, and Amber (formerly Carmela/Heather), as "vultures" and "ingrates", and is bitter towards Nathan for stealing Marni from him. He is the one who poisoned Marni, in rage.
- Anthony Stewart Head as Nathan Wallace, Shilo's father and a widower, having lost his wife Marni, a death which he blames himself for. He doubles as the head Repo Man. He often laments his late night duties, but a seeming multiple personality tends to take him over, leaving him a vicious killing machine as opposed to the kind hearted, torn father.
- Sarah Brightman as Blind Mag, Shilo's godmother and Marni's best friend. She was born blind, but was given the ability to see by GeneCo at the price of having to sing for and publicize GeneCo permanently. She is marked for repossession and is set to deliver her final performance for the company.
- Paris Hilton as Amber Sweet, Rotti's only daughter. Luigi and Pavi's younger sister, she is addicted to both surgery and Zydrate, which she obtains illegally from GraveRobber, in exchange for sex. She changed her last name from Largo to Sweet, as she "needed a stage name".
- Bill Moseley as Luigi Largo, Rotti's eldest son and Pavi and Amber's homicidal, older brother. He usually wears an ascot, wields a knife at all times, and is always willing to stab someone for something as little as getting his shirt messy or getting him poorly made coffee. He has a habit of ripping his shirt open, revealing a large surgical scar, whenever he states he will take over GeneCo.
- Ogre as Pavi Largo, Rotti's youngest son and middle child. Womanizing, narcissistic, vacuous, and effeminate, he wears the skinned face of a woman as a mask over his own, which is heavily scarred. Due to the way his face is attached, he is able to change faces on a whim. He has an Italian accent (to conceal his speech impediment, according to Zdunich) and is almost always surrounded by women, usually Genterns, the employees of GeneCo, who usually give Pavi his face surgeries.
- Terrance Zdunich as GraveRobber, a Zydrate peddler who obtains the insoluble chemical from corpses and has connections to Amber, both sexually and as a dealer. He also seems to be Shilo's first and only friend, and explains Zydrate and Mag's debt with GeneCo to her. Mysterious and charismatic, he acts as the narrator of the post-apocalyptic world.
- Sarah Power as Marni Wallace, Nathan's deceased wife and Shilo's mother; she was Rotti's girlfriend but then left him for Nathan; jealous, Rotti poisoned her and framed Nathan for the crime.
- Nancy Long provided Marni's singing voice for "Chase the Morning".
Joan Jett makes a cameo appearance during the song "Seventeen" playing the guitar. Dean Armstrong, later seen in Saw 3D, appears as the victim during "Thankless Job". Co-writer Darren Smith appears during "We Started This Op'ra Shit" as the GeneCo band leader. Frequent Bousman collaborator J. LaRose appears during "My, What Big Scissors You Have" as a GeneCo spokesman.
Repo! The Genetic Opera holds the record for the most songs ever composed for inclusion in one film, with a total of 64. This is the official list of all the songs in the film. Some were cut from the final edit of the film.
Melora Creager of Rasputina plays cello on the soundtrack. A 7-track demo CD dubbed the "Pre-Surgery Sampler", was released on July 24, 2008. A 22-track soundtrack was released on September 30. Songs do not appear in the same sequence on the CD as they do in the film. On February 20, 2009, an extended edition of the soundtrack was released online. The "Deluxe Edition" contains 38 tracks; and the song, "Zydrate Anatomy", was re-cut and used in its film version for this edition.
In the film, the following songs are performed: (* = instrumental)
- "Depraved Heart Murder at Sanitarium Square"*
- "Genetic Repo Man" - GraveRobber
- "The Prognosis"*
- "Things You See in a Graveyard" - Rotti
- "21st Century Cure" - GraveRobber, Shilo
- "Shilo Wakes" - Nathan, Shilo
- "Infected" - Shilo
- "Nathan's Story"*
- "Legal Assassin" - Nathan, Ghostly chorus
- "Lungs and Livers" - GeneCo Chorus
- "Mark It Up" - Genterns, Amber, Luigi, Pavi
- "Tao of Mag" - Mag
- "Rotti's Story"*
- "Things You See in a Graveyard (Reprise)" - Rotti
- "Limo Ride" - Rotti and Shilo
- "Thankless Job" - Nathan
- "A Ventriloquist's Mess"*
- "Tao of Mag (Reprise)" - Mag
- "No Organs? No Problemo!" - GeneCo chorus
- "Largo's Little Helpers" - Child chorus
- "Genterns" - Genterns, Pavi
- "Luigi, Pavi, Amber Harass Mag" - Luigi, Mag, Amber, Pavi, Rotti
- "Seeing You Stirs Memories" - Rotti
- "Blind Mag's Story"*
- "Seeing You Stirs Memories (Reprise)" - Rotti, Mag
- "My, What Big Scissors You Have" - Shilo
- "Housecall" - Rotti (spoken)
- "Inopportune Telephone Call" - Nathan, Shilo
- "Before the Escape"*
- "GraveRobber and Shilo Escape" - GraveRobber, Shilo
- "Zydrate Support Network" - Rotti
- "Worthy Heirs?"*
- "Zydrate Anatomy" - GraveRobber, Shilo, Amber, Zydrate addicts
- "Disposal Crew" - Disposal crew
- "A Dump Truck Home"*
- "Who Ordered Pizza?" - Luigi, Pavi, Nathan, Rotti, Amber
- "Night Surgeon" - Nathan, Rotti, Henchgirls, Luigi, Pavi, Genterns
- "The Visitor"*
- "Chase the Morning" - Mag, Shilo, Marni
- "Everyone's a Composer" - Mag, Nathan, Shilo
- "Come Back!" - Nathan and Shilo
- "What Chance Has a 17 Year Old Girl" - Nathan, Shilo
- "Seventeen" - Shilo
- "Happiness is Not a Warm Scalpel" - Amber, Rotti
- "Gold" - Rotti
- "Nathan Discovers Rotti's Plan" - Nathan, Shilo
- "Tonight We Are Betrayed" - Nathan
- "At the Opera Tonight" - Shilo, Mag, Nathan, Amber, GraveRobber, Rotti, Luigi, Pavi
- "Bloodbath!" - GraveRobber
- "Not Your Parents' Opera"*
- "We Started This Op'ra Shit!" - Luigi, Pavi, Rotti, GeneCo chorus
- "Interrogation Room Challenge" - Rotti
- "Blame Not My Cheeks" - Amber, GeneCo chorus
- "Chromaggia" - Mag
- "Mag's Fall"*
- "Pièce De Résistance" - Rotti
- "Let the Monster Rise" - Nathan, Shilo
- "A Ten Second Opera"*
- "Sawman's Lament" - Rotti, Luigi, Pavi, Shilo, Nathan
- "The Man Who Made You Sick" - Rotti, Shilo, Nathan
- "Cut the Ties" - Rotti, Luigi, Shilo, Pavi
- "Shilo Turns Against Rotti" - Shilo, Rotti, Nathan
- "The King is Dead" - Rotti (spoken)
- "I Didn't Know I'd Love You So Much" - Shilo, Nathan
- "Genetic Emancipation" - Shilo
- "Epitaph" - GraveRobber, Zydrate addicts
- "VUK-R" - Katie Fitzgerald (end credits)
- "Repo Man" - Ogre (end credits)
- "Needle Through a Bug" - GraveRobber, Shilo (deleted scene)
- "Bravi!" - Mag, Luigi, Pavi, Rotti, Amber, Genterns (deleted scene)
- "Aching Hour" - Sarah Brightman (end credits)
Bits and pieces of some of these songs were used in the film. Most of the songs' scenes were cut entirely (*).
- "Crucifixus" - Mag, Ghostly chorus (used as the screen closes in to GeneCo; instrumental version used in film)
- "Bravi!"* - Mag, Pavi, Luigi, Rotti, Amber (end credits, a commercial that would have been used before "Mark It Up"; heard briefly between "Infected" and Nathan's Story)
- "Tao of Mag" - Mag (a commercial starring Mag that promotes the Genetic Opera; heard briefly between "Mark It Up" and Rotti's Story)
- "Can't Get It Up if the Girl's Breathing?"* - Amber, GraveRobber (Amber telling GraveRobber that there are other ways to pay for Zydrate; would have succeeded "Housecall") (also a deleted scene on the Blu-ray release)
- "Come Up and Try My New Parts"* - Amber (Amber seduces GraveRobber to get out of paying for Zydrate; succeeds "Can't Get It Up") (also a deleted scene on the Blu-ray release)
- "GraveRobber and Shilo Escape" - GraveRobber, Shilo, Amber (GraveRobber and Shilo escape from the Italian festival; alternate version used in film, Amber not included) (also a deleted scene on the Blu-ray release)
- "Buon Giorno"* - Rotti, Pavi, Luigi, Genterns (Genetic Opera greeting; would have come after "We Started This Op'ra Shit!") (also a deleted scene on the Blu-ray release)
- "Rotti's Chapel Sermon"* - Rotti (the scene was reedited to make up "Interrogation Room Challenge"; succeeds "Buon Giorno")
- "Needle Through a Bug"* - GraveRobber, Shilo (deleted scene where Shilo must pass another of Rotti's tests; succeeded "Rotti's Chapel Sermon") and plays entirely during credits (also a deleted scene on the Blu-ray release)
- "Aching Hour"* - Blind Mag (Mag sings about her imminent death during the Renaissance festival; plays entirely during credits)
Production and history
In 1996, Darren Smith had a friend who was going through bankruptcy and whose possessions were going into foreclosure. Inspired by this, Smith came up with the idea of a future where not only your property could be repossessed, but also your body parts. Smith and Terrance Zdunich collaborated ideas and plot lines to create "The Necromerchant's Debt".
The first version of Repo! was The Necromerchant's Debt, which told the story of a Graverobber in debt to a Repo Organ Man. It was first performed at the John Raitt theater. After being such a success, creators Smith and Zdunich expanded on the universe to create all of the storylines that became Repo! The Genetic Opera.
Many changes were made, gradually, to the characters and music. For example, Rotti, in the earliest performances, was not the father to Luigi, Pavi, and Amber. Instead, he was a younger brother to Luigi and Pavi, while Amber was Luigi's daughter.
Lyrics were adjusted to new arcs, and some songs were dropped altogether, for example, "But This Is Opera!", which was cut out in an effort to change the direction of Blind Mag's character. After years of being performed as a stage play, Repo! was adapted into a 10-minute short film directed and financed by Darren Lynn Bousman to pitch the idea to film companies. The film starred Shawnee Smith (Amanda Young in the Saw films) as Amber Sweet (then named "Heather Sweet"), Michael Rooker (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer) as the Repo Man, Kristen Fairlie as Shilo, Terrance Zdunich as GraveRobber, and J. Larose as Pavi.
Once Repo! was picked up by Lionsgate, principal photography began on September 2007 in Canada. The film was scheduled to be released on April 25, 2008, but was pushed back to November 7. X Japan member Yoshiki Hayashi produced the soundtrack, along with composing one extra track for the film. He also serves as one of the film's producers. Paul Masse was the cast's vocal coach for the film's soundtrack.
Due to Lionsgate's lack of promotion, director Bousman and creator Zdunich did much of their own promotion. To coincide with the film's release, Bousman, Smith, and Zdunich, as well as various cast members, did a Repo! Road Tour version of the film. The tour was set up for one-night screenings of the film in seven different cities across the United States. Principal cast and crew also did extensive Q&A sessions following each screening. Because of strong ticket sales, a second and third touring session were added, in addition to a British tour across four locations. A Repo! Road Show was announced on January 28 in 10 cities. This show was similar to the Repo! Road Tour, except it was almost completely fan-run.
The film received a limited release in the United States and Canada on November 7, 2008. It had a further limited Canadian release, playing in Toronto from November 21–27, 2008. It was released in the Czech Republic on November 20, this was followed by a theatrical release in Spain on January 2, 2009. In December 2008, several more US theatrical screenings were announced running between January 13–24, 2009 in several cities The Repo! Road Tour made its 4th and final leg (thus far) in Europe from March 7–12, 2009.
After initial theatrical release and DVD sales, fan support has caused Repo! The Genetic Opera to be played in select theaters for the duration of 2009 and well into 2011, some with "shadow casts" in which a group of actors and performers re-enact the film in front of the big screen while the film is playing on stage, much like the followers of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was re-released in a special screening at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International.
The film received generally negative reviews from critics; critics polled on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 32% "Rotten", with the site's consensus saying, "Bombastic and intentionally gross, Repo! The Genetic Opera has a unique style but lacks the wit and substance to be involving." Kyle Smith of The New York Post concluded, "There probably aren't enough futuristic Goth rock musicals, but Repo! The Genetic Opera is weak on a couple of things a musical needs: music and lyrics."
Repo! grossed $53,684 in its opening weekend, a $6,711 average per theater. The film's full eleven-theater release earned $146,750 in the United States, and an additional $41,376 internationally, for a total of $188,126 worldwide, making it a box office failure.
Hilton's performance as Amber won her the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress at the 29th Golden Raspberry Awards. At the same ceremony, Hilton was also awarded Worst Actress for her role in The Hottie and the Nottie.
The film was released January 20, 2009 on DVD and Blu-ray in the US. In Canada, the DVD was released on January 20, 2009 and the Blu-ray was released February 10, 2009. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK on March 9, 2009. It was released in Ireland on March 6, 2009. The DVD was released in Germany on April 14.
The US DVD release contains two audio commentaries (one by Bousman and actors Vega, Moseley, and Ogre; the other by Bousman, creators Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich, and music producer Joseph Bishara), two featurettes (From Stage to Screen and Legal Assassin - A Repo Man), and the theatrical trailer.
The Blu-ray contains all DVD features including a select scene audio commentary by the director and Paris Hilton, an additional two featurettes (Zydrate Anatomy - Amber Sweet: Addicted to the Knife and Chase the Morning - Blind Mag: The Voice of GeneCo), a video sing-along with bouncing heart, four deleted scenes (Needle Through a Bug, Buon Giorno, Extended Version of Shilo and Graverobber Escape, and Come Up and Try My New Parts), and the theatrical trailer.
The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released September 30, 2008 and only available through Amazon.com and iTunes. A deluxe version of the soundtrack was released on February 17, 2009. All the tracks from the previous release remain on the deluxe edition in the same order, with the new tracks placed in between some tracks, including score tracks. The only track that appears on both albums that differs is Zydrate Anatomy, where it is slightly longer on the deluxe edition.
In regards to the possibility of a sequel, Alexa Vega has been quoted as saying: "From the very, very beginning, we always talked about a prequel or a sequel to this film. And it's hard, because as of right now, we all want to do it, but, you know, it didn't really do as we hoped. We didn't really have a lot of support. But we're hoping that the fans will come back, and it will be an underground cult classic that will grow, and that will eventually spark us to do another."
Bousman has also indicated interest, stating; "I would love to follow up Repo and finish the story, because it was conceived as a three-part movie. But this movie is all about support from the internet, and support from fans. This is not a movie where you'll see billboards or bus stop ads or trailers on TV."
It is also expected that Hilton would return in her role as Amber Sweet.
However, in a video posted on YouTube, it was revealed that they "no longer control the answer to the question [of a future sequel]" since they no longer have ownership of the franchise, thus driving Bousman and Zdunich to make The Devil's Carnival.
- Staci. "Repo! The Genetic Opera Review". Blastr. Retrieved February 4, 2011.
- "Repo: The Genetic Opera (2008) - Box Office Mojo". boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
- Posted by terrance (2009-04-18). "FAQs – 2. How’d you come up with an idea like REPO!?". Terrance Zdunich. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
- Rotti listed as the youngest Largo brother
- Amber listed as Luci's daughter
- "Paris Hilton Gets Movie Musical Role". The Washington Post. July 31, 2007. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
- (Japanese) あのYOSHIKIが、パリス・ヒルトン次回作のプロデューサーに！ - シネマトゥデイ | 映画の情報を毎日更新
- Repo! Opera Road Tour
- Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008) Coming Soon
- Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008) EOFF
- "Repo! The Genetic Opera" Will Be Seen Around the Country in January Playbill. December 26, 2008
- "Blog Archive » Repo! Is Now Booked In Theatres Through The End Of The Year!". Terrance Zdunich. 2009-04-24. Retrieved 2009-07-06.
- San Diego Comic-Con 2010: Repo! Screening and a New Lesson from The Tutor
- "PARIS HILTON MAKES A CAMEO IN THE GOTH ROCK MUSICAL "REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA " - NYPOST.com". NYPost.com. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
- "Repo! The Genetic Opera (US - DVD R1 / BD RA) in News > Releases at DVDActive". DVDActive. 1 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
- Alex Vega on Repo! FilmMonthly.com 2 January 2009
- Paris Hilton to reprise Repo role STV.TV 5 February 2009
-  REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA 2?
- Official website
- Repo! The Genetic Opera at the Internet Movie Database
- Repo! The Genetic Opera at Box Office Mojo
- Repo! The Genetic Opera at Rotten Tomatoes
- Repo! The Genetic Opera at Metacritic
- List of Shadowcasts currently performing Repo!