Repo! The Genetic Opera is the most creative, complex, and vibrant film I’ve seen this year, perhaps ever. The brainchild of artist/screenwriter Terrance Zdunich and screenwriter Darren Smith has been a labor intensive project for the past 10 years, taking various forms including a stage play and a filmed short presented to movie executives. At long last, Saw franchise director Darren Lynn Bousman teamed up with Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures to bring Repo! to the big screen. But it hasn’t been easy.
When I heard that Repo! was on a strict 7 city, one night only tour, I knew I had to go. For $15 I couldn’t say no. Chicago’s Music Box Theater is a stunning movie palace, one of the last great theaters still running in Chicago. When I arrived at 9:30pm, people were lined up down the block, blasting “Zydrate Anatomy” and decked out in their finest Repo! costumes. Some fans had been waiting since 4, and one girl came from Canada. Like any good play, we were given “playbills” while waiting for the show to start. To my surprise, both Zdunich and Bousman were just…hanging out in the lobby. No bodyguards, no police, just them.
Before showing the film, Zdunich and Bousman came up to the screen and gave an introduction. When the red curtain opened up, the crowd went wild. Right from the beginning, it was nothing but cheers and singing the whole way through. Everyone laughed and cried and yelled at all the right parts. As for the film itself, I have nothing but amazing things to say about it. When it ended, the only thing that went through my mind was…I want more. I was speechless. Repo! is a visual feast and an aesthetic mind-fuck. There’s so much going on beyond the immediate world of the story that you feel as if the characters and their world could be real.
After the film, Zdunich and Bousman gave a gracious hour long question and answer session with the fans. I was shocked. I’ve never met two filmmakers who were more down to earth and loving of their fans. Yours truly managed to sneak in a question after much fangirl-like hyperventilation:
AD: When Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended, Joss Whedon continued the series in comic form. Have you both considered turning Repo! or its sequels into a graphic novel?
DLB: Fuck that! We want a sequel! *fans screaming*
TZ: Really, It’s up to you guys what happens. The material exists. What ended up in the film, the artwork, is only 1/3rd of all of it. We could fill a book with just that…or the posters, the propaganda posters.
DLB: What we want to do is a prequel, and tell what happened before Repo! We want to tell what happened to cause this epidemic.
Bousman went on to say that Lionsgate is not the enemy here, but rather to have qualms with the movie industry itself. Repo! is the kind of movie that draws a very specific audience. How many horror rock operas have there been in the past? There is an audience for that kind of thing…it just isn’t mainstream. And Zdunich and Bousman aren’t apologizing for it.
I saw people yelling their favorite lyrics through the streets, with blue glow stick “Zydrates” in hand. I was part of a once-in-a-lifetime, interactive experience that was beyond just seeing a movie. It was being a part of something, and submerging yourself in a counterculture that is completely unique and exciting. The film is meant to be seen, and its meant to be seen live with like-minded people.
Zdunich and Bousman also spent time with the fans, talking to them about their viewing experience and answering their personal questions. They signed autographs and took pictures for free, all the while with smiles on their faces. If Repo! is coming to a city near you, go. Don’t think, just go. It’s worth it. And to pass on the words of Darren Lynn Bousman, “Spread the word!” Join the Repo! Army and fight to get this movie shown in wide release and another Repo! Road Tour.
For more information, visit the official site: www.repo-opera.com
P.S. When Bousman signed my autograph, I told him I wrote for FSR, and he remembered Neil Miller! He said he really liked the site. See, people do read us. Pretty freakin’ awesome people at that.
Check out some photos from the event: