November 22, 2008

CD Review: Repo! The Genetic Opera - Original Motion Picture Soudtrack

The first time I saw heard about Repo! The Genetic Opera I knew I had to look at it a little closer. Seriously, with a title like that, who wouldn't be interested? Apparently there were at least a few who did not think anyone would be interested, but more on that later. As I did a quick perusal of the title, I found a clip of the stage show on YouTube. Interesting, very interesting and more than a little weird, then I saw the trailer for the filmed version. That brief viewing experience brought two thoughts immediately to mind: 1. "There is no way this can be marketed to a mainstream audience" and 2. "I need to see this!" (I had similar thoughts when 300 appeared). It appears that I was right on the first part, but have not been able to fulfill the second. I will likely have to wait for DVD and satisfy myself with this soundtrack, which contains less than half of the song listing and appears to be out of order(?).

For those of you who do not know, this tale initially began as a story on a stage with productions running in Los Angeles and New York City. Then Darren Lynn Bousman arrived on the scene, directing a version of the stage show in 2001. He then created a ten minute version to shop to film studios, getting Lionsgate to back a film adaptation. His desire to make the film was backed by his successful string of Saw sequels (he helmed II, III, and IV).

Unfortunately, it seems that Lionsgate has zero confidence in this musical mixing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Blade Runner (a comparison that seems apt based on what I have read). Rather than giving it a wide release, or even a limited run to gauge potential for a wide release, it got a road show that traveled to a few cities. The good news is that the road show was a success with sold out shows wherever they went. On one hand, I understand the execs point. This is a bizarre film that would seem to have limited appeal, therefore limited ability to make money, which begs the question why did they agree to bankroll it in the first place? On the other hand, why not take a stand a try something new? Why not position yourself as a studio willing to take chances on something that is a little different? Oh well, maybe next time.

Want to know what the story is?

I am not going to attempt to recap the story that I have read (only skimmed recaps, I want to remain a bit fresh for when I get to see it). It is set in the future, the world has been ravaged by an epidemic of organ failure. In order to help those afflicted a company called GeneCo appeared. They deal in organ transplants, performing them on loan, much like a bank. All is well and good, if you can make the payments. If you cannot pay, your transplanted organs will be repossessed. Sounds like fun, no?

The film weaves together story threads that concern the president of GeneCo, his recently discovered illness, his three children, the head repo man, his daughter, her genetically inherited illness, as well as drug use, opera music, and more.

Frankly, this sounds absolutely fascinating. My interest is only increased by the clips on the official movie site, including the clip for "Zydrate Anatomy," which may be my favorite track on the soundtrack. No, the movie does not have a big Hollywood production veneer, it has a low-budget gritty feel that seems perfectly appropriate.

The soundtrack album features twenty-two tracks from the film and they are in the finest tradition of the rock opera. Well, maybe not, but they are engrossing. The songs incorporate rock, metal, opera, jazz, cabaret, punk, and other styles all under one roof, co-existing, feeding off each other, building to a crescendo of blood and the bizarre.

All of the cast members provide their own singing voices and they all do a fine job. The eclectic cast includes the likes of Alexa Vega (the Spy Kids films), Anthony Stewart Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas, Law & Order), Sarah Brightman (recording artist), Paris Hilton (you know), Nivek Ogre (Skinny Puppy), Bill Moseley (The Devil's Rejects), and Terrance Zdunich (co-screenwriter).

The collection is hypnotic. Even when the songs slip a bit I found it hard to turn it off (I couldn't). There was always something to get into, the lyrics, the rhythm, the voices, the story, the music, all sorts of things to get lost in.

This is definitely not for everyone, but for those willing to give it a shot, I think you will find yourself pleasantly surprised by what you will find. It is a, dare I say, visionary? Well, all right, that may be a bit much, but it is definitely something sprung from a creative mind and that is reason enough to offer at least a modicum of support.

My favorite tracks include: "Zydrate Anatomy," "We Started This Op'ra Shit," "The Opera Tonight," "Infected," "Legal Assassin," and "Mark It Up."

Bottomline. Looking for something different? Looking for something along the lines of Rocky Horror? This could be a worthy companion piece. The singing is primarily good, the story odd, and the music is catchy. Give it a spin.


Here is a clip of "Zydrate Anatomy":


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