Repo! The Genetic Opera: Part 2: Cast Contributions

So who else took the online Jeopardy test? I did it last night (was not going to skip a class on Margaret Atwood for a ten minute game show testplication) and wound up skipping 10 of 50 questions. Though I'm confident of the answers I did put down (and mad that a few of those skips were because the author of a book escaped me until the last second), methinks I won't be receiving any call for an interview. The final night of testing is tonight for the West Coast crowd at 8pm Pacific. Repo! The Genetic Opera: Part 2: Cast Contributions Repo! The Genetic Opera is a rather strange film. A not too distant future is rife with massive organ failures, leading to the rise of GeneCo's unscrupulous lending contracts; fail to pay up and they will collect what they gave you. And it's a musical. So what kind of cast can you possibly pull together for a low budget horror musical about organ harvesting? A very strange one, but not for the reasons you would think. You would expect an actor like Bill Moseley to be drawn to this sort of project. This is a man who has made a career out of appearing in bizarre horror films and standing out, for better or worse. Moseley has talent for this sort of material, but he needs the right director to bring out the best. Right now, he is probably best known for his collaborations with Rob Zombie as the sadistic backwoods maniac Otis Driftwood from House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects. Appropriately creepy, Moseley provided a perfectly twisted backbone to the hyperactivity of House of 1000 Corpses and barren surroundings of The Devil's Rejects. He brings this sadistic streak with him for a vicious character in Repo!, though the results aren't as effective. His physical business when not singing is far stronger than his vocal abilities, though that is part of the role; why should ungrateful, uncouth, worthless grown children clearly incapable of running the family business be masterful singers in a musical? Another unsurprising choice was Paris Hilton. Vitriol or not, Paris's more popular film work has been in mediocre horror films Nine Lives and House of Wax (2005). This is partly because the films were marketed to show she died horribly violent deaths. This Razzie nominated performance is probably only Razzie nominated because she is Paris Hilton (the same way Lohan's competent work in the mediocre I Know Who Killed Me won her Razzie gold for being Lohan). She's perfectly competent in every way as Amber Sweet, especially since this grown child is completely self-absorbed and believes her vocal prowess is far greater than it actually is. Plus, more horrific circumstances are tossed at her than in those other two horror entries combined. She gets the second best effects sequence for a major character in the film. Beyond these two, some of the choices seem puzzling at first. The third grown child is played by Nivek Ogre, who is the lead singer of a band called Sick Puppy. This casting choice works out well partly by virtue of the character: he participates in a form of elective surgery where the entire face can be removed and replaced by another using large hooks installed in the head. It's as disturbing as it sounds, and means all Ogre has to do is sing beautifully; he does. So who else is important to the film? Let's see. We have a Spy Kid, Giles, Gino Barberini, the composer/writer of the film, and Sarah Brightman. Brightman and Paul Sorvino are up to the task vocally in the film. Clean, operatic performances abound when they open their mouths, lending a sense of authenticity to the proceedings. Anthony Head does his best to balance out a tricky dual role, though at times his voice seems to lack the variety to pull it off. The biggest surprise is Alexa Vega. Her singing is fine for the role, though her nuanced work as a teenager struggling to break free by any means possible brings back memories of Evan Rachel Wood's breakout role in Thirteen. The strange balancing act of Repo! The Genetic Opera is how many vocal pairings there are throughout the film. Brightman and Sorvino; Vega and Head; Vega and Zdunich; Vega and Brightman; Brightman and Head; Hilton, Vega, and Zdunich; Hilton, Moseley, and Ogre; Moseley and Ogre; Vega and Sorvino; Head and Sorvino. Then there are the implied pairings, such as Hilton and Brightman or Vega and Hilton/Moseley/Ogre. Combine that with the need for various styles of performance, from opera to prog rock, and you begin to realize how tricky casting this film had to be. The end result is certainly worth the struggle, as even in its weaker moments, it would be hard to imagine a different casting combination for the film.

Labels: alexa vega, anthony head, bill moseley, nivek ogre, paris hilton, paul sorvino, Repo The Genetic Opera, sarah brightman