Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008) (part 6 of 7)
Repo’s off getting ready, Rotti has somehow slipped a now-conscious Shilo one of her mother’s old dresses and sent a car for her, Mag walks through the graveyard musing about how she’s still gonna perform despite the looming reposession, and Amber crawls the streets looking for a hit. Graverobber, appropriately, relaxes in a Dumpster, causing me to look around hopefully for Mr. Boring. Meanwhile, Rotti, Luigi, and Pavi stand around and kill time, waiting for the opera to start.
Repo takes a shortcut through Shilo’s secret tunnel, inexplicably killing a few cops along the way, while Mag leaves a rose at the door of the crypt and Graverobber reads us a newspaper (with misspelled headlines no less), actually daring to imitate the cliffhangers from Batman, despite the fact that the end of his song and the next part of the story are mere seconds apart.
Dear Darren S. and Terrence Z., It only takes one hand to pat yourself on the back, so between the two of you should’ve still had enough hands to write a decent script. Sincerely, M. Novelli
If you were curious, the song reuses the melody from earlier, when Shilo was out catching bugs. Why just repeat the words and backstory, when recycling music is just as fun?
And now, the climax, the pinnacle of Repo! The Genetic Opera: the opera itself. Backstage, Amber literally puts her face on, while out in the stalls a huge crowd of ordinary folks waits excitedly. The show begins. We see a masked rock band on stage (if only Joan Jett had had the same sense of self-preservation), while a flamboyant conductor with an attendant hoochie train of geneterns makes his way down the aisle.
Meanwhile, a very cool old lady is cutting records in a balcony. No kidding, the credits actually list her as ”DJ Granny”. It’s the most natural performance in the film.
Also, this song is what’s playing during the DVD menu, and is responsible for more profanity-laden tirades around the Novelli household than Sinead O’Connor.
The show devolves into a tent revival pretty quickly, with everyone “testifying” about how needless cosmetic organ replacement has made everyone’s lives better. Actual excerpts:
Jessica Simpson: My liver was wrecked, but now I can drink whatever I want!
Novicorp Chairman: Before GeneCo, my anatomy was completely repressed!
Um, so… what? You’re better at being fat, nowadays? I’d think that sort of thing would come naturally.
The geneterns take the stage and begin dry humping each other, which somehow fails even to be sexy on a superficial level, which might have something to do with the fact that these girls are nowhere near as hot as they seem to think they are. Even less sexy is a single mother in the audience, who, after explaining how her kidney transplant led to a boob job, proceeds to strip down and display her completely ordinary-looking nakedness for all to see, while singing about how she looks great on television. By this point, even John Waters would be saying, “Dude, hire some professionals, for godsakes.”
Rotti enters, while a fat black woman in a bustier pole dances behind him. Shilo arrives on the red carpet outside the revival—er, opera—wearing a hideous black dress with a gigantic pile of layered veils that looks exactly like something you wear to a funeral, and was, earlier in the film. While Rotti and his freakazoid sons cavort onstage, making humiliating raise-the-roof motions while the demented maestro squeals “Testify!!” for the umpteenth time, Shilo is taken up in an elevator by Archduke Franz Ferdinand to a dark room where a film starts playing.
It seems Rotti has prepared a grindhouse-style preview to explain how he will only cure her if she helps him capture the Repo Man, who—thanks to a little revisionist history—is now being positioned as merely a disgruntled former employee, and not an iconic harbinger of death that Shilo already knew about. One would think that if Rotti told her something she knew wasn’t true, she might be a little suspicious, but thankfully Darren Smith has a fatal allergy to beta readers, so nothing will ever come of that.
Grindhouse Rotti sings, “You saw him… in the graaaaveyard,” while the same words play as a caption across supergrainy footage from earlier in the movie. Wow, so this whole time, Uhura was singing about Repo. I figured it was the bugs.
Down in the revival, Amber does a brief but memorable song involving a patently synthetic voice and her fucking face falling off of her skull! Which is met with boos and lots of thumbs-down signs, as if this were a Roman amphitheater. A recorded message chants “You didn’t see what you just saw.”
I’m trying to think of a joke about Vladimir Putin, but I can’t shoehorn a critique of censorship into this mess any better than these idiots can. Instead I’ll just say that if this had happened in another Paris Hilton movie, the face would have immediately been eaten by a small horny dog. So, we should be… grateful?
Amber quietly picks up her face and leaves, while Mag is lowered from the proscenium into a snowy mountain set where, for the rest of the scene, she’ll perform suspended from ropes like the Queen of the Night. To everyone’s credit, her song is actually something one might hear in, you know, an opera, her being dressed like a feathery hooker notwithstanding.
And just as soon as we’ve started thinking they might stop trying to prove they went to film school and just do a normal sequence for once, they, well, do. Then they punish us by having Mag gouge out her own eyes with her insanely long, Curse of the Golden Flower style nails. So that means—what, she slept with her mom? I’m lost again.
So, she’s foiled Rotti’s plan to repossess her eyes by, um, ripping them out herself. I hope she realizes that definitely voids the warranty. I guess she recknons that her little self-repo will prevent the maniac serial killer Repo Dude from snuffing her out, but clearly Mag hasn’t figured out she has the Tragic Ancillary Victim role in this whole travesty.
Sure enough, Rotti gives her the Saruman treatment by using his cane, which evidently doubles as a cutting tool, to slash the ropes offstage that are suspending her over the set, dropping her onto a spiked fence directly underneath. The audience, and evidently the entirety of Gothamtropolis watching on early-Gilliam-era TVs, gasp in dismay, but Rotti jumps out in front of the curtains (which close so fast they practically slam shut) and plays off Mag’s gruesome death like it’s part of the show. He even declares that, for an encore, he’s going to cure Shilo’s illness. Wow, medical drama! This is the best opera since La Traviata!