Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

Things I Love Tuesday: Repo! The Genetic Opera

For this week’s edition of Things I Love Tuesday, we’re changing up the vibe a bit and looking at a movie that’s received some very mixed reviews over the years: Repo! The Genetic Opera.

Sarah Brightman as "Blind Mag," via We Are Movie Geeks

I admit, I was really skeptical about this film. It first popped up on my radar around 2007 or 2008, when I heard that Sarah Brightman had been cast as Blind Mag, the aging opera singer. As a side note, I own every album Sarah Brightman has ever recorded, and most of her concert DVDs, so I was really excited when I found out that she was going to be in a movie. Still, I didn’t get around to seeing the movie till last week… but now I am obsessed.

Repo! is billed as a horror rock opera, set in a world where a global plague causing massive organ failure has led to the for synthetic organs. The solution to this scourge comes in the form of GeneCo, the company that manages to corner the market on synthetic organs.

Rotti Largo, the head of GeneCo, is a shrewd and heartless businessman — he forces a bill through Congress that allows him to repossess organs from those who have defaulted on their payments.

Repo! Poster, via cyberpunkreview

This development gives rise to the horrifying specter of the Repo Man, who is charged with repossessing GeneCo’s property. As GraveRobber sings in the opening,

Out from the night from the mist steps a figure.
No one really knows his name for sure.
He stands at six foot six, head and shoulders,
Pray he never comes knocking at your door.
Say that you once bought a heart or new corneas,
But somehow never managed to square away your debts.
He won’t bother to write or to phone you…
He’ll just rip your still-beating heart from your chest!

The trailer offers a more complete overview of the film, though as a warning, there is some Sin City-style violence, blood, and gore involved:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzgpU25C6fg]

Alexa Vega as Shilo Wallace

There are many reasons why I love this film. Take, for example, the cast, which includes Paul Sorvino as Rotti Largo (who played Capulet in the 1996 reboot of Romeo and Juliet); Paris Hilton (Rotti’s spoiled, petulant daughter who is addicted to cosmetic surgery and prescription drugs); Alexa Vega (from the Spy Kids franchise) as Shilo, the main character; and Anthony Stewart Head (Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Uther Pendragon from the BBC’s Merlin) as Shilo’s father and the Repo Man.

Tony Head’s role was the most surprising to me, because I somehow missed the musical episode of Buffy and had no idea that he could sing.  And wow, he is amazing in this movie. He’s like Dr. Jekell and Mr. Hyde: a doting, overprotective father one moment, and a bloodthirsty “legal assassin” the next, plagued by guilt and his own personal demons.

Repo! is heavy on dark humor, but it also has an emotional core that I didn’t expect (for the record, the ending made me cry). The film also rocks a futuristic/dystopian aesthetic, mashed up with some Victorian/Goth elements that I love: Blade Runner-style floating neon billboards and women dressed in period gowns with cameo necklaces; eerie three-dimensional portraits alongside dark, creepy Victorian furnishings.

Despite the many, many bad reviews this film received when it came out, I can’t get enough of it. Netflix predicted that I’d give it 4.7/5.0 stars, which is dead on, so maybe that means that I like things that no one else does? At any rate, I can’t stop listening to the soundtrack, and I’ve watched the film so many times via Netflix Instant that I know I’m going to have to just buy the DVD.

Has anyone seen Repo!, and if so, what did you think? Are there any films that you love in spite of poor reviews?


  1. I have the non-musical film Repo Men waiting to be watched. My daughters insist I shouldn’t bother with that and just watch the Opera instead. I don’t know how many times they’ve seen it but they love it. I’ll get round to it, honest 🙂

  2. Sounds interesting – the premise definitely has me intrigued! Don’t know if I like any films that got poor reviews… I never pay attention to those, anyways. 😉

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