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Film / Repo! The Genetic Opera

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"So why care for these petty obsessions?
Your designer heart still beats with common blood.
And what if you could have genetic perfection?
Would you change who you are, if you could?"
Graverobber, "The 21st Century Cure"

Repo! The Genetic Opera is a 2008 rock opera/cult film. It's written and composed by Terrance Zdunich and Darren Smith, and directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (of Saw II, III, IV and Spiral (2021) fame). The film is based on their 2002 play of the same name. It's a gory, dystopian and ultimately very moving Black Comedy that never takes itself too seriously. Widely known and loved for its Questionable Casting (see below) and its lush soundtrack, the film has become a modern cult classic. It's also an actual opera: nearly every line of dialogue is sung, and the story is one continuous musical number.

In the not too distant future, an epidemic of organ failures devastates the planet. Panic erupts and scientists feverishly make plans for a massive organ harvest. Out of the tragedy, GeneCo, a multi-billion dollar biotech company, emerges. GeneCo provides organ transplantation for a profit. In addition to financing options, GeneCo reserves the right to implement default remedies, including repossession. For those who can't keep up with their organ payments, collection is the responsibility of organ repo men: skilled assassins contracted by GeneCo, ordered to recover GeneCo's property by any means necessary.

At the heart of the story is Shilo Wallace, a 17-year-old girl with a rare blood disease. Shilo has been kept locked up and protected in her house, where she's guarded from the outside world by her father, Nathan Wallace. While Shilo struggles with her wish to leave the house and experience the outside world, Nathan struggles with his secret job as a Repo Man, and more specifically, his next target, a woman named Blind Mag. Blind Mag, an opera singer bound by contract to GeneCo, was a friend of Nathan's now-deceased wife, and is Shilo's godmother.

The Largo family consists of GeneCo president Rotti Largo, his daughter Amber Sweet, and his two sons Luigi and Pavi. Rotti is dying, and the three siblings bicker and fight about who is to take the role as head of GeneCo. But, disappointed with his own children, Rotti takes an interest in Shilo...

Repo! The Genetic Opera's soundtrack, overseen by producer and X Japan drummer Yoshiki Hayashi, became available on September 30th, 2008, and the film was given a limited release of ten theatres by Lionsgate Films on November 7, 2008. Theatres showing it sold out consistently, and between showings at film festivals and clips and music released online, Repo! has developed a cult following, with some calling it the The Rocky Horror Picture Show of the new millennium. Fans from several countries have been petitioning Lionsgate for a wider release.

"Won" one award at the Razzies in 2009 — basically, for featuring Paris Hilton.

You can find the official site at

Brought to you by the Questionable Casting Agency, it stars:

  • Alexa Vega as Shilo Wallace, a rebellious teenager confined to her room due to the blood disorder she inherited from her mother.
  • Anthony Stewart Head as Nathan Wallace, father to Shilo and a widower, having lost his wife Marni in childbirth. He doubles as a legal assassin known as the Repo Man.
  • Sarah Brightman as Blind Mag, born blind but given the ability to see by GeneCo at the price of having to sing for the GeneCo Opera. She is marked for repossession and she is set to deliver her final performance for the company.
  • Paul Sorvino as Rotti Largo, the dying president of GeneCo, looking for a worthy heir.
  • Paris Hilton as Amber Sweet, Rotti's daughter. She's addicted to surgery and to Zydrate, a euphoric painkiller, which she obtains illegally from Grave-Robber. Considers herself Mag's rival (the feeling is not mutual). Paris was never considered for the role, was almost laughed out when she tried to audition, forced herself into an audition anyway and showed up dressed as Amber, and promptly got the part when the creators realized she was awesome at it.
  • Bill Moseley as Luigi Largo, Rotti's oldest son, who likes stabbing people. Considers himself the brains of the Largo family. Usually seen wearing an ascot, and accompanied by a quivering assistant holding up shirts for him to rip through.
  • Nivek Ogre as Pavi Largo, the younger son of Rotti. A vain, dim-witted, effeminate rapist and womanizer who wears women's faces as masks.
  • Terrance Zdunich as the script writer Grave-Robber, who acts as the film's Greek Chorus: a Zydrate-peddler with connections to Amber, sexually and as a dealer.

Not to be confused with Alex Cox's Cult Classic 1984 comedy Repo Man, or its 2009 spiritual sequel Repo Chick, and definitely not to be confused with the 2010 Jude Law film Repo Men, an entirely distinct movie about organ repossession that's based on the 2009 novel Repossession Mambo.

Trope Namer for:

This film provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion:
  • Adam Westing: Paris Hilton plays a spoiled, sexually promiscuous heiress with minimal singing talent and a drug addiction, a pretty clear example of Self-Deprecating Humor directed at her public persona.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The film is actually an adaptation of a stage play (or rather, a series of stage plays). Director commentaries and the like reveal several cut scenes that either added little to the story, or stretched Willing Suspension of Disbelief a bit too far, even for a movie as campy as this.
  • The Aggressive Drug Dealer: Mostly averted; even though most of GraveRobber's songs are directly about Zydrate and the dealing thereof, his attitude is at best sardonic and at worst flat-out disgusted with the people he serves. Particularly notable is that he never encourages Shilo to try it (though in the cut song "Needle In A Bug," she not only comes to him for Zydrate, he seems to imply he'd trade her some for sex... if Amber hadn't cleaned him out earlier in another deleted scene). However, in the original stage play he behaves differently, as this bit at the end of "21st Century Cure" shows:
    GraveRobber: Z? ... First time'
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Amber Sweet has a thing for the Grave Robber, and, it's implied, for Luigi, both indisputably 'bad' boys.
    • Pavi is seen with several girls hanging off of him at nearly all times, despite his incredibly creepy demeanor and...odd habits. Most of them do appear to be Genterns, however, so it may be that they only do it because he's the boss's son and/or because they don't want to deal with the consequences of refusing him.
    Ask a Gentern who they prefer
    10 out of 9 will say the Pavi
    The most dashing, panty-snatching
    I will leave your diapers dripping!
  • All Part of the Show: Blind Mag's onstage death during the Genetic Opera, as well as the conflict between Nathan, Shilo, and Rotti. Heck, pretty much everything that happens in the Genetic Opera can fall under this trope. Indeed, the announcer at the the opera actually uses these exact words while calming the audience.
  • All Take and No Give: Amber to Rotti.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Amber had slept with the Graverobber, and is implied to be tapping the Genterns.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Zydrate, and some of the organ transplants (Mark It Up suggests GeneCo provides brain transplants, for instance).
  • Arc Words:
    • You're going to hear the word "genetics" a lot in this film.
    • "The perfect life", repeatedly during the comic scenes, usually right before revealing how that life went south.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • A powerful "quick, clean, and pure" drug can be extracted from a corpse's brain by sticking a syringe up the corpse's nose...wait, what? Or the idea that any part of the nervous system can be replaced...
    • According to early interviews, Zydrate was discovered when doctors searched for a chemical reason for near-death experiences, then made a synthetic version of the compound they discovered for use in surgery.
  • Aside Glance: Rotti gives a small one when he's in the limo speaking with Shilo, as he misses his cue slightly.
  • At the Opera Tonight: Trope Namer. There are several performances at the in-story opera, but only two of them are plot-relevant: Blind Mag's farewell performance, and Amber's song during which her face comes off about ten seconds in before she's booed off. Much more important are the things going on backstage.
  • Audience Participation: The shadowcast productions of this show encourage this to varying degrees. Exactly how they do this varies depending upon the cast.
    • Most shadowcasts encourage the audience to stand up and sing during certain key songs, particularly We Started This Op'ra Shit!
    • It is also common to have the audience read along with text in the comic-book exposition sequences.
    • Various props are waved about or thrown during the show. These vary from cast to cast but generally include:
      • Panties — thrown when Pavi snatches the Panties from the Genterns and throws them at Luigi.
      • Neon Blue Glowsticks — waved during Zydrate Anatomy.
      • Toy Gold Coins — thrown at Rotti as he sings Gold.
      • Tampons - thrown at Shilo after she collapses and wakes up in a pool of blood at the start of Shilo Turns Against Rotti.
    • There's also a number of Mystery Science Theater 3000-style callbacks, which vary from cast to cast. For example:
      Doctor: "It's spreading rapidly."
      AP: "Like Amber's legs!"
    • Also:
      Graverobber: "It's the 21st Century..." (Beat)
      AP: (during the (Beat) "What's your favorite Goth band?!"
      Graverobber: "...Cure!"
    • Or:
      (Blimp advertising Opera flies past)
      AP: Start a new life on the Off-World Colonies! Drink Coke!
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: A surprisingly understated, but still powerful moment at the end, when Amber takes over the company.
  • Ax-Crazy: Luigi Largo, who basically walks around with a flask and a knife, drinking and stabbing those who get in his way.
  • Baldness Means Sickness: Early on we see Shilo is completely bald, showing her as an ill girl suffering from a mysterious blood disease that killed her mother; she spends most of the movie wearing a long wig. Subverted when her mother is revealed to have been murdered and her father has been faking her illness to protect her from the Crapsack World outside.
  • Bastard Understudy: Amber, Luigi and Pavi. As a subversion, Rotti tries to set them up to follow in his footsteps, but it doesn't quite work out. Later played straight with Amber proving she really is her father's daughter by convincing her brothers to back her as she takes over GeneCo, shunting Rotti's chosen heir aside.
  • Battle Butler: Rotti's henchgirls as a female example.
  • The Beautiful Elite: Pavi and Amber fit the evil version of this trope. At least Pavi thinks he does.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Shilo wishes that Nathan would "go and die". Not ten minutes later, he does exactly that. Oops.
  • Berserk Button: Do not mess with the Repo Man's daughter. Also, do NOT offer Luigi decaf coffee. ...or regular coffee. Actually, just stay away from him.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Nathan's song Let the Monster Rise.
  • Big Bad: Rotti Largo certainly qualifies, between his blatant profiting off of the Crapsack World they live in, creating the repo men, and killing Marni.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Largos come very close to epitomizing this trope.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Mag's final song, "Chromaggia," is one big Sarcastic Confession to the world of what Rotti did to her.
    Mag: (in Italian) Down! Toward the Devil's jaws!
    His arrow, my eyes.
    (in English) Come take these eyes!
    I would rather be blind!
  • Bio-Augmentation: GeneCo sells a mostly realistic version of this, because Blind Mag's hologram-projecting eyes shows that some fantastical variations of Bio-Augmentation are in the Repo Universe.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Though Nathan dies, Shilo is now free from her captivity.
  • Black Comedy: Luigi is a murderer with anger management issues. Pavi is a rapist who wears women's faces as masks. And they're the comic relief characters. Though it should be noted that Pavi's status as a rapist is not the reason he's comedic.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Luigi has a small hidden one that he uses to stab Nathan in the finale.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Amber is all three throughout the film (though her red wigs don't read as red to some people, due to the film's filtering.)
  • Blood Is the New Black: See that movie poster in the upper right? The Repo Man uniform is actually black, not blood-red. This trope is the most likely explanation for the different color in the poster.
  • Bloody Hilarious: Mark It Up, and Thankless Job. The Repo Man seems to have a lot of fun despite having a "thankless job."
  • Blue/Orange Contrast: Used to great effect in the graveyard scene.
  • Bodyguard Babes: Rotti's henchgirls. Amber's scantily-clad male bodyguards are a Spear Counterpart.
  • The Brainless Beauty: An odd version with Pavi Largo, who is horribly scarred and wears fleshmasks, but is still considered beautiful by his many admirers, since surgery is sexy. Subverted with Amber - she seems like she'll fit this trope, but then demonstrates that she has more than enough brains to manipulate her brothers into backing her when she takes over GeneCo.
  • Break the Cutie: Shilo is pretty much doomed to this from the start. We learn that Blind Mag was broken between her origin and the present.
  • Broken Bird: Blind Mag, after years of service to GeneCo with the knowledge that retirement = death.
  • Brother–Sister Incest:
    • Amber Sweet and Luigi have a whole lot of UST going on. Pavi thinks it'd be a great idea:
      Pavi: My brother and sister should fuck!
      Luigi: Pavi, shut the fuck up!
    • According to Pavi's official MySpace, it's heavily-implied that he and Amber — ahem — like each other.
  • BSoD Song: Nathan gets not one, but three of these.
  • Camp: And how! There's enough over-the-top acting, music and comical violence to make The Rocky Horror Picture Show look tasteful by comparison.
  • Camp Straight: Pavi, who is really effeminate but is also a big womanizer.
  • The Caretaker: Nathan Wallace, for his daughter, Shilo. He provides her medicine, and keeps her confined to her house to protect her from the evils of the outside world.
  • Chewing the Scenery: EVERYONE. Even the otherwise restrained Shilo has her moments in "Infected" and "Seventeen".
  • China Takes Over the World: There's flavors of this between the cut song "Tao of Mag" and random Mandarin signs around the city. Of course, it might just be a homage to Blade Runner. Also some signs in Cyrillic, which is used to write Russian.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The Largo children are vying for a place as their father's rightful heir, and are pretty damn vicious about it. In Luigi's case, also chronic frontstabbing.
  • Cloning Body Parts: GeneCo makes artificial organs after an epidemic of organ failures, then has assassins repossess them when the patients miss too many payments.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Not the most extreme example, but in the "Mark It Up" scene, each Largo child drops at least one F-bomb; Luigi drops two.
  • Consummate Liar: Rotti certainly seems to count. He killed Marni out of jealousy, but has Nathan believing that he did, with tragic results. There's also Nathan as a better-intentioned version; he's poisoning Shilo to keep her with him, but has Shilo (and everyone else except the Largos) convinced that she inherited Marni's illness.
  • Continuity Snarl: See the Expanded Universe entry. Basically, the MySpace pages were barely touched by the actual higher-ups. However, many consider them canon. This is made complicated by the fact some IS written by Word of God, and Word of God never told the MySpace writers they were inaccurate, or corrected anything afterwards.
    • Played with. Darren Bousman, on his Formspring account, jokingly wrote that Graverobber is Rocky Horror character Riff Raff's son. He then said something on the lines of, "that's canon now."
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Rotti Largo. What else can you call the guy who used his corporation's wealth and power to legalize organ repossession?
  • Country Matters: Amber drops one in "Mark It Up." It can be a little tough to hear, as Luigi sings the word "slut" at the exact same time.
  • Covers Always Lie: A fairly minor example, the Repo Man's suit is black, not red as it was shown in the advertising.
  • Crapsack World: A crapload of people died in the organ failure epidemic, and a fair proportion of those who are left are now addicted to painkillers, surgery, or both. The country is also pretty much ruled by a corporation with sufficient wealth and power to have murder sanctioned by law.
  • Cyberpunk: Although the actual plot is more Bio Punk than Cyberpunk, the neon-drenched cityscape is very reminiscent of the Cyberpunk classic Blade Runner.
  • Dead Guy Puppet: The Repo Man does this to a guy he's just...well...repo'd. Poor sucker.
  • Deadly Doctor: The Repo Men are trained medical professionals, who mostly do their work with scalpels. The Genterns don't kill people nearly as often as the Repo Men, but they're still extremely sinister.
  • Deadpan Snarker: GraveRobber has some moments of this throughout the film.
    "You're real?"
    "Well, duh."
  • Death Glare: Mag gives one hell of a Death Glare to Rotti near the end of "Chromaggia." Also, watch Mag's face when Rotti jokingly says "technically you belong to GeneCo" to Mag in front of a huge audience.
  • Death Song: "Chromaggia" for Mag and "I Didn't Know I'd Love You So Much" for Nathan.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Pavi. Oh, the Pavi, though he's only confirmed as such in the Expanded Universe and in the film is only seen with women.
  • Discretion Shot: Pavi getting an "oral examination" from two Genterns.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Just in case the beginning of "Zydrate Anatomy" was too subtle for you, the Graverobber gets a nice little dance from Amber before he, uh, delivers an injection to her upper thigh.
    • The cut song "Needle Into a Bug". Someone asked Terrance Zdunich if the "smack it" lyric was meant to be sexual, to which he replied, "Every lyric in that song is sexual."
  • Do Not Go Gentle:
  • Double Standard: All three Largo siblings are petty, vindictive, spiteful, philandering "scalpel sluts" addicted to surgery, yet Pavi and Luigi are largely considered sexy ensemble darkhorses for it while their sister Amber Sweet is nowhere near as popular. This, despite how the brothers are full-blown murderers and rapists who kill and wear other people's faces on-screen, while Amber is implied to have only consensual sex for drugs, and is usually too high to actively hurt anyone till the very end. A large part of this is likely due to the fact Paris Hilton was cast as Amber Sweet.
  • The Dragon: The Repo Men, Rotti's henchgirls.
  • Driven to Suicide: Blind Mag chooses to leave GeneCo, knowing this will mean her death; at the end, she snaps and tears out her own eyes on stage, forcing Rotti to kill her, rather than waiting to be hunted down like a dog by the Repo Men.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Just about everyone besides Mag has some sort of strange, deep-seated psychological problem; Nate has a split personality, Shilo is sheltered, Rotti just can't let things go, Luigi is Axe-Crazy, Pavi is a rapist who wears women's faces to cover his scarred face, Amber is a drug/sex addict and the Graverobber just flat-out lacks empathy.
    • At least Graverobber gets Shilo out of more scrapes than he gets her into. Marginally.
  • Dystopia: See Crapsack World.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Shilo.
  • Effeminate Misogynistic Guy: Pavi Largo is a woman-hating (implied) rapist, but he wears the face of a woman he killed and is generally effeminate.
  • Elite Mooks: The Repo Men and the henchgirls again.
  • Emo Teen: Shilo is played this way. She has the pale skin, the black hair, and the eyeshadow. She even has a moment of teenage rebellion in "Seventeen."
  • Even Evil Has Standards: About every time Shilo is in a scene with the Largo brothers, Luigi is usually the one to try and keep her away from Pavi.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Quite a few instances. Grave-Robber, Single Mother, Band Leader, News Reporter, DJ Granny and, of course, Repo Man.
  • Evil Debt Collector: The Repo Men, though Nathan was forced to.
  • Evil Laugh: Rotti gets one in "Things you see in a Graveyard."
  • Evil Plan: Rotti's revenge plot. He plays father and daughter against each other, hoping to eliminate his old rival in love at his own daughter's hands.
  • Evil Sounds Deep:
    • The Repo Man becomes much deeper and hoarse when he's on the job. Just compare Legal Assassin to Thankless Job. Lampshaded when he switches voices in the same take so he can talk to Shilo.
    • Also subverted, with Pavi, with the exception of 'Night Surgeon', where his voice starts getting deeper and scratchy when he taunts the (soon to be) repo victim.
    • Subverted in the other direction with Graverobber, who, while having a very deep voice, isn't actually a bad guy.
  • Expanded Universe: Each of the eight main characters (plus the Repo Man) has a MySpace page of his or her own. What goes on there is considered canon, sometimes a little moreso than the movie (for example, Rotti has stated on multiple occasions that some of his more diabolical plots were artistic licence on the parts of Mssrs. Zdunich, Smith, and Bousman.)
    • To clarify, Terrance Zdunich and Darren Smith made the basic Myspace profiles for all the characters, and then chose fans to maintain them. The information itself was left intact with only minor (eg, grammatical) adjustments to the text; for example, a portion of the "About Me" section on Rotti's page can also be found in a newspaper article in the movie. However, the interviews and similar interactions are entirely fan-written. As the creators gave the fans insight to their respective characters and are yet to debunk anything, many consider it to be as good as canon.
    • As well, there's a project that was developed that gave GeneCo, Zydrate, the Genetic Opera, the Zydrate Support Network and two anti-GeneCo groups their own Web pages, filled with hilariously in-universe info.
    • Of the official Myspaces, a few expanded to Twitter. The official Twitter accounts are: @luigilargo, @officialrotti, @pavi_largo and @officialmssweet.
  • Eye Scream: Mag decides she would rather not see any more, and gouges her own eyes out at the opera.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Mag in the end. She stabs out her own eyes rather than have them repo'd on GeneCo's terms.
  • Fan Disservice: The movie does have legit Fanservice, but that said...
    • There's multiple scenes of female top nudity, but with the exception of Single Mom they're from dead or dying women.
    • The Genterns are attractive nurses who wear very little. They also tend to be treated as The Chew Toy, with one getting stabbed by Luigi during "Mark It Up" or being shown getting frisky with Pavi (a deformed Serial Rapist, meaning there's a chance it might not be entirely consensual). Then there's their appearance during "Zydrate Anatomy" where they get cozy with Amber... during a montage of her surgery.
  • Foreshadowing: Rotti Largo claims, when talking to Marni's tomb, that though he's dying, he'll go out with a bang. And technically he does - shooting Nathan before he dies of his illness.
  • Funny Foreigner: The entire Largo family is Italian, though Pavi's the only child with an accent; even Rotti only speaks with an Italian accent when he says his own name. Pavi and his brother Luigi make up the main comic relief of the movie. Of course, with a movie like Repo!, the comic relief duo is made up of a rapist and a murderer...
    • Co-writer Terrance Zdunich stated at a 2008 screening afterparty that a young Pavi crafted the accent to hide his speech impediment. Eventually it just became part of his The Casanova reputation. This is widely accepted as a canon part of the Expanded Universe.
  • The Future Is Noir: See Dystopia.
  • Gallows Humor: Shadow cast performances are usually full of it.
    • How does Mag feel about leaving GeneCo? She's on the fence about it.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: Rotti's henchgirls in Things You See In A Graveyard. For once, the trope is actually used in a sensible manner (they're tossing gas bombs).
  • Genre-Busting: Cyberpunk Gothic Musical, with Gorn.
  • Genre Savvy: GraveRobber is somewhat ahead of the curve. It's most noticeable in Bloodbath, but is present throughout the movie.
    "And the mighty fine print hastens the trip to our epilogue. (EPILOGUE!)"
  • Giggling Villain: Pavi Largo has such a cute little effeminate laugh, it's hard to believe he's actually something of a monster. The dead woman's face clumsily grafted to his head doesn't hurt.
  • Gilded Cage: Mag's service to Rotti. She has money, fame, "the perfect life" ... as long as she never leaves or defies him.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Luigi's torso is covered with crude surgical stitches, and he likes to show them off.
  • Gorn: Guaranteed whenever the Repo Man is sent after a new victim. There's also Amber Sweet's surgery montage. What did you expect? It's directed by the guy who did three Saw films. Although in the latter example, it leans more towards the Porn side than the Gore side.
  • Grave Robbing: Black market Zydrate can only be extracted from the decaying brain matter of corpses. A syringe up the nose and through the skull is apparently the best way to get it...
  • Groin Attack: Amber crushes Luigi's two best friends in "Mark It Up." And being Amber, licks his ear at the same time.
  • Harmless Villain: Amber Sweet. She's just as bad as her siblings, but she's usually too busy shooting up to do anything really nasty. At least, until Epitaph.
  • Hidden Depths: Amber may be a self destructive Rich Bitch, but she is one of the only Largo children who seems to notice her dad is growing ill and seem genuinely concerned for him. And it appears she might just be a capable ruler of GeneCo after all.
  • Hitman with a Heart: Nathan. He might be a ruthless Repo Man, but he genuinely loves his daughter, and refuses to repo Blind Mag's eyes for going against GeneCo.
  • Hologram: Mag's artificial eyes can project them. Also, the portraits of Marni that fill the Wallace home.
  • Hospital Hottie: The Genterns appear to be hired simply because they look good in white minidresses. Or less.
  • Human Resources: Graverobber's bootleg Zydrate, which he extracts from corpses.
  • I Am a Monster: Nathan calls himself this in "Legal Assassin."
    Nathan: I'm the monster (Assassin). I'm the villain! (Assassin) What perfection! What precision! Keen incisions, I deliver. Unscathed organs, I deliver. Repossessions, I deliver! I'm the Repo! Legal Assassin!
  • Implacable Man: A legion of them, in the form of GeneCo's Repo Men.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Rotti's terminal disease, which is heavily implied to be an untreatable cancer by the doctor's statement, "You don't have a lot of time. It's spreading rapidly."
  • Informed Flaw: Pavi's status as a rapist. A particularly odd case, in that (a) it's not even informed from the film itself, but rather from the promotional materials, and (b) it's not like there was a shortage of evidence that Pavi is a freak beforehand.
  • In the Blood: Shilo inherited Dead Marni's blood disease. Or so she thinks.
  • It's All My Fault: Nathan, for just about everything, partly due to a constant chorus of It's All Your Fault from the Genterns and Marni.
  • I Wished You Were Dead: Rotti to Marni in the backstory, subverted because he killed her, and Shilo to Nathan in the main storyline.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: Nathan and the Repo Man are played as being two entirely separate characters; one quiet, gentle father, and one remorseless killer.
  • Karma Houdini: Everyone. No, really: 'EVERYONE.' None of the Largo family's crimes are discovered. The children are actually better off at the end, after two hours of being vile. Sure, Rotti and Nathan die, but Rotti's hand in Marni's death remains a secret and the many mourn him as a hero, while Nathan gets Shilo's forgiveness for controlling and arguably ruining her entire life and is at peace. Even freakin' Graverobber gets a happy ending; the last shot shows him continuing to sell Zydrate to really hot women.
  • Kavorka Man: They all love-a the Pavi! Despite him being a horrifically scarred man with the mind of a horny teenage Vanity Smurf who wears women's faces. Though, since all of the women with him are employees of GeneCo, it's possible they're being paid to fawn all over him.
  • Keet: The Band Leader is such a keet that at the end of his song you can even hear him coughing and running out of breath!
  • Kick the Dog: In the backstory, Rotti Largo killed Nathan's wife for rejecting him, then convinced Nathan that he was responsible.
  • Kinda Busy Here: Happens when Nathan calls Shiloh to check up on her while doing his work as the Repo Man. Also goes both ways, as he can hear the ambient noise caused by Shilo being outside.
  • Large Ham: There are a lot of contenders in a movie as campy as this, but Graverobber's "GRAAAAAAAAAAAVVEEEEESSSSSSSS!" in "21st Century Cure" is a very strong one.
  • Leitmotif: Not only are there themes that crop up throughout the movie, but most characters are associated with particular styles.
    • Seventeen year old Shilo gets rebellious punk rock, befitting a teenager trying to grow up.
    • Sara Brightman reminds you quite a few times she is a legend from Broadway with her show-stopping songs, and her operatic performances are at Rotti's insistence.
      • Cromaggia could be seen as one for Mag.
    • Rotti, of course, delivers his songs with a highly operatic style, as befits his status, class, and love of high culture.
    • Graverobber delivers his Greek Chorus pieces with themes borrowed from goth rock.
    • Amber Sweet, when singing for herself, usually gets some pop tracks. When joining those above her, like Rotti, she struggles to conform to those styles, and when joining Graverobber during Zydrate Anatomy, she imposes an overly autotuned pop element to his song.
    • Pavi and Luigi's every sung line is comedic faux-opera.
    • Nathan's musical theme has occasional glimpses into older showtunes framed by bass-heavy dark rock music.
  • Loan Shark: GeneCo. You really, really don't want to encounter one of their Repo Men.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: "At The Opera Tonight" starts with the Repo Man suiting up and arming himself.
  • The Lost Lenore: Marni is this to three main characters. Nathan (her husband), Rotti (her ex), and Mag (her best friend).
  • Loveable Rogue: Grave-Robber is (obviously) a graverobber, a drugdealer, a pimp, and sleeps in a dumpster — but he makes up for it by being really loveable.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: Amber's face gets fixed right back up. Temporarily.
  • Male Gaze: Amber Sweet's introduction to the film, in comic book format, is a zoomed-in view on her cleavage.
  • Manipulative Bastard:
    • Rotti again, to the point where it's hard to tell what wasn't orchestrated by him.
    • Marni to an extent — she sweet-talks Rotti into helping her friend and then dumps him for Nathan pretty soon afterwards...but then again, considering what Rotti has done to his other lady loves in the past, can you blame her for wanting to find someone less likely to have her killed on a whim? Self-Fulfilling Prophecy if ever there was one...
  • Master of All: With Terrance Zdunich being the co-writer of the story and all of the songs, artist of all comic book styled scenes and the face & voice of Grave Robber, his mastery of several fields is key to this motion picture.
  • Meaningful Name: Rotti Largo, a man slowly dying from disease. "Largo" in music refers to a very slow tempo, or a piece/movement in such a tempo.
  • Medication Tampering: Played for Drama and Inverted. Ill child Shilo is kept homebound due to a rare blood condition, which she takes daily medication for. In the finale, it is revealed that Shilo's father has been poisoning her with the "medicine," which causes her to exhibit the symptoms of her vague illness; she is completely healthy when not taking it.
  • Medium Blending: Some flashbacks are told in the form of a comic book rather than live action. It's partly for aesthetics and partly because the movie didn't have enough of a budget to shoot those scenes.
  • Missing Mom: Marni, and the Largo children's mother(s).
  • Mooks: The GeneCops and Amber's eunuch valets.
  • Morality Pet: Marni, for Nathan. When she died, Shilo replaced her. Shilo also acts as a Morality Chain — it's implied she's all that's stopping him from taking on the sociopathic Repo Man persona full-time.
  • Mr. Exposition: GraveRobber, whose song Zydrate Anatomy introduces himself, Amber Sweet, Blind Mag, some Applied Phlebotinum in the form of Zydrate, the veritable epidemic of surgery addiction, and reveals one of Rotti Largo's many, many plots. Hell, he does this from his very first number. Check out the opening lines of 21st Century Cure
    Industrialisation has crippled the globe
    Nature failed as technology spread
    And through this wake, a market erected
    An entire city built on top of the dead.
    And you can finance your bones and your kidneys
    For every market a sub-market grows.
    But best you be punctual with making your payments
    Lest it be you on the concrete below...
  • Ms. Fanservice: Where to begin? Amber Sweet, Blind Mag, the Genterns, the scalpel sluts, Rotti's henchgirls, even Shilo when she dresses in skimpy leather Zettai Ryouiki outfits... it would probably be easier to list the female characters who DON'T satisfy someone's fetish.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Nathan finally asks this question right before his death.
  • My Greatest Failure: Part of the reason Nathan is such a crazypants is because he was a doctor before he became a Repo Man, and was responsible for his wife's death. Or so he thinks.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Shilo Wallace. After being locked in her bedroom for seventeen years, with nothing but what her father tells her and what she can see out her window to inform her about the world, she breaks out of the house. A fair chunk of the story deals with the trouble that naivety gets her into.
  • No Dead Body Poops: Subverted. After finishing disemboweling his latest victim, the victim's waste is emptied onto Nathan Wallace's shoes, as far as we can tell from his expression and the subtle sound effect.
  • No Fourth Wall: GraveRobber breaks it all the friggin' time. In Genetic Repo Man, he speaks directly to the audience. He gets caught by the police in the middle of a musical number. Towards the end of the movie he calls out the fact that it's a rock opera and acknowledges the epilogue. Probably has to do with the fact that he's the show's Greek Chorus. This is pretty standard in opera for that sort of character.
    Bloodbath. It's gonna be a bloodbath.
    'Cause no one crosses GeneCo,
    No, not even Repo.
    Will Rotti clean house?
    Damn, we're gonna find out,
    At the opera, stay tuned,
    The winner of this blood feud
    Will take GeneCo.
  • Offstage Villainy: Pavi is described as a rapist in the promotional materials, but this is never mentioned in the movie, and all the girls we see him with are entirely willing. This is probably because while brutal murders are hilarious, rape is hard to joke about.
  • Older Than They Look: Blind Mag. According to Rotti, Mag was 19 when she got her eyes. 17 years later would now make her 36. Sarah Brightman was at least 10 years older than that during filming. Ditto for the Largo brothers. Their ages are given on a Blink-and-You-Miss-It shot of a newspaper that reveals Pavi is 32 and Luigi is 37, but Nivek Ogre (Pavi) was 46 during filming while Bill Mosley (Luigi) was 57.
  • Only Sane Man: Blind Mag is the most well adjusted member of the cast by far. Yes, you heard us correctly; the woman who rips out her eyes with her fingernails is possibly the sanest person in this story.
  • The Paid-For Harem:
    • Rotti's henchwomen/bodyguards. It's heavily implied that Blind Mag is also part of this. "Technically, you belong to GeneCo."
  • Papa Wolf: Nathan as the Repo Man. He tears through many, many people to keep his little girl safe from any harm.
  • Parental Abandonment: Neither Shilo nor the Largo siblings have a mother present.
  • Parental Favoritism: Subverted. Rotti can't stand any of his own children, but thinks Shilo's pretty cool.
    • Gets into Squick territory considering how much she apparently looks like her mom and his various interactions with her... if you pay attention during "Gold", he even has a spy-cam in her BEDROOM. Admittedly, that's where she's spent the last decade-plus, but STILL.
    • There's also an element of an inversion of My Real Daddy, where Rotti flat-out tells Shilo that if Marni had stayed with him, she'd be his daughter, not Nathan's.
  • Parrot Exposition: Zydrate comes in a little glass vial...
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Luigi and Pavi again. Amber too to an extent.
  • Posthumous Character: Marni, who greatly impacts the plot despite being dead for seventeen years.
  • Precision F-Strike: "DADDY'S GIRL'S A FUCKING MONSTER!"
  • Psycho for Hire: The Repo Men by definition: remorseless killers on GeneCo's payroll.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Luigi Largo when he's having a temper tantrum.
    • The Repo Man has shades of this, especially in "Thankless Job".
  • Psycho Supporter: The Largo siblings, for Rotti and for each other.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The Repo Men and the Genterns.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "EVERYBODY, EVERYBODY TES! TI! FYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Largo children.
    • Also, the Repo Men. An early expository scene shows that the Repo Men don't all wear Nathan's black vinyl surgeon's outfit. They all wear equally bizarre, but unique outfits.
    • We also get to see the other Repo Men in the background of "Night Surgeon." Interestingly, the outfits they wear are actually Nathan's outfits from different iterations of Repo. (The early concept, the mini-opera, the stage play, etc.)
  • Race Lift: In the original stage production Amber Sweet was so addicted to cosmetic surgery she had even changed her ethnicity, and was played by an Asian actress. There is a reference to this in a lyric in the film soundtrack, but the implication is that this was something she did at some point in the past and then changed her ethnicity to Caucasian again. Also, the original Blind Mag was played by a black actress.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Nathan does confess his sins and gets Shilo's forgiveness... just before dying.
  • Retro Universe: Has some Sci-Fi elements, some modern (as of 2008) elements, and a heavy dose of Neo-Victorian Steampunkishness, especially in the area of fashion, which is mostly based around a combination of Victorian funeral dress and modern Cyberpunk fashions.
  • The Resenter: Rotti Largo. Poor guy.
  • Ridiculous Repossession: Gene Co. has the legal capacity to send repo men (read: assassins) after organ donation recipients that fall behind on their medical bills in order to kill them and extract the organ to sell it to a new client.
  • Right Through His Pants: In "Come Up And Try My New Parts", Amber convinces Graverobber to sleep with her to get out of paying for her Zydrate. Both remain fully clothed for the entire scene— the only item of clothing removed is Graverobber's big coat.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Subverted. Nathan starts out well, but gets taken down only a couple of minutes in by Luigi Largo and his very large knife.
    • As of information received during a recent Shadow Cast event, it's possible that a Director's Cut will see this trope played straight.
  • Rock Opera: Repo! is an opera in the most traditional sense — nearly all dialogue is sung.
  • Royal Rapier: Rotti, the closest thing to royalty, draws a concealed smallsword when he kills Blind Mag. No one else uses such a weapon, and the sword is never seen again.
  • Rule of Funny: There is no apparent reason for Pavi's foppish Italian accent aside from that it makes him funnier.
    • It was mentioned in the Extended Universe that he started using it to hide a speech impediment.
  • Sarcastic Confession: In a press conference, Rotti says to Mag, "technically, you belong to GeneCo" and plays it off as a joke, despite the (completely true) rumors that he intends to use her eyes as an excuse to kill her for leaving.
  • Scenery Gorn: This is everywhere, but the best example is right at the beginning, when the camera pans in across the sea (full of corpses), past the broken bridge (littered with corpses), over a massive graveyard (later revealed to be literally stuffed with corpses) and into the grimy, grey industrial city scape, before looping a giant flying GeneCo billboard and disappearing down a chimney.
  • Screw Destiny: The basic moral of the story.
  • Serious Business: This hellhole of a future loves its opera. Though it makes sense to a degree: Rotti is the most powerful man in the world, Rotti loves opera...
    • They did "start this op'ra shit."
    • Honestly, there's little else to smile about in this world. GeneCo has to keep the population alive and sated with something.
    • The appeal of the event may not be the actual opera — GeneCo is the single most powerful corporation on the planet, Rotti is the most powerful man, etc... and the public is invited to be in the company of the elite for one night a year. It might be more VIP appeal than the content of the performance.
  • Sexy Villains, Chaste Heroes: Some of the undisputed villains of the story—Luigi, Amber Sweet, and Pavi—are extremely sexual, with Amber in particular dressing herself and her henchmen in Fanservice outfits. The good (or at the very least, more sympathetic) characters, such as Nathan and Shilo, are dressed and act far more conservatively.
  • Shirtless Scene: Not really a scene, but Luigi Largo has a lot of shirtless moments.
  • Shoot the Messenger: Rotti ordered the execution of the doctor who told him he was terminally ill.
  • Shut Up Compliment: A particularly famous (if failed) one in cut song "Needle Through a Bug":
    Graverobber: You're beautiful. It's easy.
    Shilo: You don't mean-
  • Sibling Rivalry: A constant between the Largo siblings for the high, high stakes of inheriting the most powerful company in the world. It's mainly between Luigi and Pavi since Amber's too high to comment on anything happening around her. "Mark It Up" sets it up pretty effectively.
  • Soap Opera Disease: Shilo's rare genetic blood disorder. We don't know anything about it, except that it killed her mother, made her hair fall out, can't be cured, and makes her delicate enough that her father thinks it's a good idea to keep her locked in her bedroom for the rest of her life. Eventually justified—Nathan has been poisoning her so she can't leave him.
    • Many of Shilo's symptoms match mercury poisoning, which may offer some insight as to what was in her meds.
    • Rotti's terminal illness, too, although with the cough, baldness (chemo?) and the doctor's "it's spreading rapidly" implies that it might be lung cancer. It could be leukemia — blood-based diseases seem like they are the one kind that are still dangerous.
  • The Song Before the Storm: "At The Opera Tonight" is a textbook example.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": "Why does no one ever tell the Pavi these things?"
  • The Starscream: All of the Largo siblings would happily topple each other for a shot at the top, until the very end when their father's crushing rejection of all three of them causes Luigi and Pavi to happily stand behind and support Amber when she takes over the company — to the point of Luigi threatening to kill anyone who doesn't give his sister the applause she deserves.
  • Stealth Pun: Word of God says that Amber Sweet's real name is Carmela Largo.
    • Although the MySpaces are cloudy in terms of canon, this has been confirmed by the writers. Furthermore, it is stated in Happiness is Not a Warm Scalpel that Amber changed her surname for the stage.
    • In the stage play, Luigi's name was "Lucci," making the Largo men "Lucci Pavirotti."
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: At least one of the Repo Man's victims. Another one gets strapped to a chair. And one gets strapped upside down!
  • Stripperific: The Genterns and Amber, whose wardrobe came from Ms. Hilton's own copious closets, according to the first DVD commentary.
  • Suddenly Shouting: The Graverobber. It's his job... to steal and rob.... GRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAVVVVVVEEESSS!!!
  • Superpowered Evil Side: When Nathan is with Shilo, he couldn't hurt a fly, but as the Repo Man, he becomes a total sociopath.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Nathan Wallace. Sure, he rips out people's organs while they're still alive, but he was forced into it by the man who (unbeknownst to him) killed his wife, and he does it to protect his daughter.
  • Tear Off Your Face: A subversion. Due to excess surgery, Amber's face actually falls off on stage while she's struggling to keep it attached.
  • Televisually Transmitted Disease: A rather spectacular case of Munchausen by proxy afflicting Nathan via Shilo, made an even more intense TTD because it originally looks like a TTD version of porphyria, hereditary anemia, congenital heart disease, or a rare immunodeficiency.
    Shilo: "Why are my genetics such a bitch?"
  • Terrible Trio: When Amber persuades her brothers to follow her in rebuilding GeneCo, that is.
  • There Are No Therapists: While almost everyone in the movie is messed up to some extent (only Blind Mag seems to function on a remotely normal level, and while she does end up ripping out her own eyes, it's actually her way to Face Death with Dignity and make Rotti look like the monster he is rather than a moment of sheer balls to the wall crazy), especially Nathan, the three Largo children make them all look positively healthy. The Expanded Universe materials found on the Largo kids' MySpaces imply that Pavi and Amber might have had a chance at normality if their mother had survived their childhood... but Luigi was always like he is.
  • Third-Person Person: Mainly seen with "The Pavi," but potentially a y-linked Largo trait, since both Rotti and Luigi do this a few times each as well. Amber might if she wasn't high every time we see her.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Nathan walking right past Luigi with no more than a sideways glance on his way to confront Rotti. He's met the guy, there's no excuse.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The film treats Nathan's Secret Identity as, well, a secret for about the first third of the film, and the website actually treats him and Repo Man as separate characters (they even have separate MySpace pages). The trailer, meanwhile, proudly proclaims that the film features "Anthony Stewart Head as Repo Man."
    • And proudly plays the reveal song throughout.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Fan opinion is divided if GraveRobber is this, or just very sarcastic and very pretty.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Repo! is set in 2056, and GeneCo has been around since 2030.
  • The Vamp: Amber Sweet in a nutshell and latex panties.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Rotti Largo at the end of the film. When Mag defies him during her act, he cuts the ropes holding her up so that she crashes onto a cast-iron fence prop and is impaled. He insists to the audience it's all part of the show, then drags Shilo and Nathan on stage and tries to force Shilo to kill Nathan. When she refuses, he loses it in front of the entire Opera audience, shoots Nathan himself, then finally succumbs to his disease due to the stress of the breakdown, rambling as he dies.
  • Villain Song: Gold and Things You See In A Graveyard for Rotti Largo, Legal Assassin and Thankless Job for the Repo Man, Mark It Up as a borderline case for Pavi and Luigi, and the Cut Song Come Up and Try My New Parts for Amber Sweet.
    • There's also "We Started This Op'ra Sh*t," for GeneCo as a company. It's the most hammy number in the movie, and is basically about the company's employees and customers reveling in decadence. "EVERYBODY, TESTIFY!"
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The Largo family and GeneCo are mostly known for curing treating the organ failure epidemic and hosting the Genetic Opera, an extremely popular event. They also have several reporters on their payroll who tend to brush aside any bad publicity.
    • Hell, Rotti himself is regarded with a religious fervor: magazine covers from the disaster hail him as "SAVIOUR" and at the start of the Genetic Opera, GeneCo customers are urged to "testify" of their salvation through surgery.
    • Well, this trope is a bit subverted. Though Rotti is highly praised, but during the "Gold" (between 1:02:22 and 1:02:28), we see newspapers calling Rotti "villain" and even "devil".
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: Forget wardrobe, Amber's whole damn face falls off!
  • Wham Line: Rotti's "Let me introduce you to the man who made you sick."
  • Wicked Cultured: Rotti Largo and his love for opera and Italian culture.
  • Wingding Eyes: Mag's replacement eyes display various designs in the irises, which is more noticeable in the comics sections.
  • With Catlike Tread: In order to sell your futuristic drugs, you need to go grave robbing in a heavily guarded graveyard, with watchmen under orders to shoot trespassers on sight. Do you: a) sneak in and out as quietly as possible to avoid broadcasting your location, b) find a new line of work, or c) sing about the unfortunate state of the world, before screaming "GRAVES!!!!" at the top of your lungs and using a dead body as a battering ram to break into a tomb?
  • World of Ham: Well, it is a musical, but the setting, the characters, the actors playing them, and the music itself take this to the next level.



Video Example(s):


Repo! The Genetic Opera

Repo! The Genetic Opera is a 2008 rock opera/cult film. It's written and composed by Terrance Zdunich and Darren Smith, and directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (of Saw II, III and IV fame). The film is based on their 2002 play of the same name. It's a gory, dystopian and ultimately very moving Black Comedy that never takes itself too seriously. Widely known and loved for its WTH, Casting Agency? (see below) and its lush soundtrack, the film has become a modern cult classic. It's also an actual opera: nearly every line of dialogue is sung, and the story is one continuous musical number.

In the not too distant future, an epidemic of organ failures devastates the planet. Panic erupts and scientists feverishly make plans for a massive organ harvest. Out of the tragedy, GeneCo, a multi-billion dollar biotech company, emerges. GeneCo provides organ transplantation for a profit. In addition to financing options, GeneCo reserves the right to implement default remedies, including repossession. For those who can't keep up with their organ payments, collection is the responsibility of organ repo men: skilled assassins contracted by GeneCo, ordered to recover GeneCo's property by any means necessary.

At the heart of the story is Shilo Wallace, a 17-year-old girl with a rare blood disease. Shilo has been kept locked up and protected in her house, where she's guarded from the outside world by her father, Nathan Wallace. While Shilo struggles with her wish to leave the house and experience the outside world, Nathan struggles with his secret job as a Repo Man, and more specifically, his next target, a woman named Blind Mag. Blind Mag, an opera singer bound by contract to GeneCo, was a friend of Nathan's now-deceased wife, and is Shilo's godmother.

The Largo family consists of GeneCo president Rotti Largo, his daughter Amber Sweet, and his two sons Luigi and Pavi. Rotti is dying, and the three siblings bicker and fight about who is to take the role as head of GeneCo. But, disappointed with his own children, Rotti takes an interest in Shilo...

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / RockOpera

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