Not to be confused with the excellent Repo Man, Repo! The Genetic Opera is a goth/science fiction opera that divides opinion. A lot of people love it, but even more think it’s awful.
If you’re on a website like Stranger Views, then you probably should watch it. You may love it, you may detest it, but if you love science fiction that’s a little bit out there you will need to check it off the list.
Repo! The Genetic Opera – Summary
The movie takes place in a future where humanity is plagued by organ failure. Many people’s only hope of survival is to receive an expensive organ replacement from medical technology company GeneCo. The problem is, should you fail to keep up with your payments, then GeneCo will send a repo man to reclaim the organ. Even if it means killing you.
The plot follows the head of GeneCo, Rotti, as his machinations drag the terminally ill teenager, Shilo, into his corrupt corporate world.
OK – it’s not a good film or musical
Before I go through the reasons why you should watch Repo! The Genetic Opera, let’s make one thing clear: it’s not a good film. It’s not even a good opera. The plot is simplistic, the songs aren’t particularly memorable, the casting is weird and the performances hit and miss. Overall the direction is occasionally inspired but is often just disorientating.
Yet, despite these obvious flaws, it is a cult classic for a reason. If you’re the sort of person that likes their sci-fi a little rough and weird, then you may get a kick out of this movie.
Anthony Head is clearly having the time of his life
I’m sure many people who happen across Stranger Views grew up watching Anthony Head playing Giles. While he was undoubtedly great in the role of Watcher, it rarely did him justice. Too often, in the early seasons at least, Giles was the standard uptight Brit. It must have been a little boring for an actor with such range to be typecast.
So it’s great to see Anthony Head really let go in this science fiction goth opera. He doesn’t attempt to be subtle – as if there would be any point in this movie – instead going all out all of the time. He dives straight into the schlock and gore of the movie and it’s glorious to watch.
A weird quirk of operas is that you have people singing in situations when singing is the last thing they should be doing. For example, you’ll have characters singing while ‘stealthily’ sneaking into a lover’s house. Or screaming at the top of their lungs about the risk of an avalanche while on a mountaintop. This is a quirk of the genre that it’s easy to poke fun of.
Repo! Uses this trope in the scene below hilariously. The expression on Shilo’s face when the Graverobber yells GRAVESSSSSS, while they are trying to avoid detection, before utilizing a corpse as a battering ram is priceless.
In case you’re wondering, when an actor achieves that level of HAM it’s called going full Shatner.
This scene is a great piece of cyberpunk
Overall, Repo! The Genetic Opera is more goth than it is cyberpunk. Yet this one is one for all of us who love cyberpunk but don’t see enough of it on the screen. In this scene, Mag uses her implanted eyes to project a ghostly image of Shilo’s mother as she walks up the stairs. The cybernetic augmentation coupled with the general dilapidation is one of film’s few pure cyberpunk moments.
It’s almost the cult film it thinks it is
This may be a little harsh, given that it has a sizable following, but I don’t think Repo! The Genetic Opera is quite the cult classic it aimed to be. It’s hard not to compare it to Rocky Horror Picture Show, and unfortunately it comes up short in every respect. The music isn’t as good, the acting is worse and, despite the gore, it’s not nearly as shocking as Rocky Horror.
Unless you love all things goth, Repo! The Genetic Opera is unlikely to become one of your favorite cult films.
But it’s so close! It really does have its moments. It’s witty and clever and the casting is bizarre enough to be interesting. The film’s aesthetic is striking enough to live with you for a while after you’ve watched the film. It has both Paul Anthony Sorvino and Paris Hilton in it! All these things are good, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark. That said, if you do like to watch some of the weirder and more creative films out there, then you will probably get something out of this one.
If you’re considering watching Repo! The Genetic Opera you may also want to take a look at our tips for the best low budget films on Netflix.