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Film / Shredder Orpheus

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Praise the Ray.

Shredder Orpheus is a cult indie film by Robert McGinley that retells the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in a 1980s post-apocalyptic dystopia. Filmed entirely in Seattle, it's self-described as absolutely bonkers.

In the Grey Zone, the 99 percent is barely hanging on, distracting themselves from the cost of survival with the soothing rays of Hades' Euthanasia Broadcast Network, or EBN. Looking to boost youth ratings to hasten the effects of his deadly television signal that sucks the souls out of the living, Hades has his crew murder the dancer Eurydice and take her to the broadcasting underworld.

With a gang of rebellious skateboarders by his side and armed with a Gibsonian Lyre-Axe Guitar, it's up to the rock-and-roll star Orpheus Hellenbach to storm Hades' network, free Eurydice, and save the world in the process.


The movie has an official website.

This movie contains examples of:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: In the midst of the skateboarding action, underworld journeys, and punk-rock concerts, there are several quieter, emotional scenes like Orpheus and Eurydice deciding to marry, Orpheus's dream after losing Eurydice, and Linus confronting Orpheus about his depression, with the latter having no music at all.
  • Adaptation Expansion: In adapting the myth, the film goes into detail with Orpheus and Eurydice's love for one another and the lives of the people around them, the resulting grief after Orpheus turns around, and even gives him another chance to save Eurydice a year after his initial quest.
  • After-Action Patch-Up: A very mild version occurs after one of Orpheus's concerts where Orpheus massages Eurydice's feet, which are worn-out from dancing.
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  • The Bad Guy Wins: Hades and Persephone enjoy top ratings when Orpheus fails the rigged game show and joins Eurydice in death.
  • Beneath the Mask: At Orpheus's wedding, at concerts, and when trying to negotiate gigs over the phone Linus is high-energy and camp, but in private conversations with Orpheus he's much more serious and reflective, sincerely expressing his frustrations and begging him to get help.
  • Big "NO!": Razoreus screams "Noooo!" when the Furies kill Orpheus on live TV, punctuating it by smashing the TV with Orpheus's skateboard.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Only a small amount of blood is seen when Orpheus has his head cut off and afterward it's perfectly clean, without even a stain on the floor.
  • Bread and Circuses: Hades and Persephone entrance the put-upon masses with their TV broadcasts, distracting them from the high costs of living while slowly killing them.
  • Brown Note: Watching Hades' broadcasts first brainwashes people, then sucks the souls out of their bodies. The programming is accompanied by a sustained droning sound to accentuate its effects.
  • Candlelit Ritual: Post-decapitation, Orpheus's skull is used in candlelit rituals by the skateboarding youth in remembrance and for luck.
  • Cargo Cult: Orpheus's skull is worshiped as a symbol of hope for the youth, for luck in future skateboarding, and in remembrance of his defiance of the EBN.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: Orpheus enters Hades' Underworld to find a gloomy office setting adjacent to his broadcasting network. Apollo and Calliope work in the memory-processing department and are tasked with erasing incoming souls' memories via a paper shredder.
  • Chainsaw Good: The Furies bind Orpheus and decapitate him with a hedge trimmer to end the rigged game show.
  • Character Narrator: Axel, a war veteran, narrates the story and introduces the setting and characters.
  • Clothing-Concealed Injury: Scratch has a red, raw scar on her neck from when she tried to skate the EBN parking garage, using her scarf to cover it up most of the time. She reveals it to Orpheus as proof of how dangerous the garage is.
  • Cool Board: Orpheus and the rebels all ride skateboards, and a fair bit of the film's runtime is dedicated to shredding as a means of self-expression, catharsis, and rebellion. In the second half of the movie, Orpheus obtains a special board that can even shred the dangerous Underworld parking garage.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Hades and Persephone run a television network that entrances and kills viewers, already owning 85% of the corporate demographic and planning to corner the rest by tapping into the youth market.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: Back in 1986, a nebulous year in relation to the movie's timeline, Orpheus was a member of "Latent Death Wish," a speed metal band.
  • The Dead Can Dance: Orpheus's hard-rock music energizes the previously sedate Underworld inhabitants to headbang and dance along.
  • Deadly Game: Orpheus's second chance to save Eurydice is framed as a game show where one door leads to Eurydice, while the other leads to his death. Eurydice isn't behind either door, so he's doomed no matter what.
  • Don't Look Back: As in the myth, Orpheus is tasked with leading Eurydice out of the Underworld without turning back to look at her before they're both outside. In this case, he screws it up when Scratch sees Eurydice and calls her name, leading him to turn before she's out, though Axel feels even if she hadn't he'd have looked back.
  • Doomed Moral Victor: Axel has this view of Orpheus in the ending. While he failed his mission to save Eurydice and was decapitated, the younger generation is inspired by him, and he hopes one day they'll realize what he did it for.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "Shredder" in this case refers to Orpheus's rock band, the Shredders, skateboard shredding, which he and other boarders do for fun, and the EBN using a paper shredder to erase the memories of the dead.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Post-turn, Orpheus has dreams of reuniting with Eurydice once more after first embracing Persephone, and also of the mysterious parking garage connected to the EBN. Both elements foreshadow his ultimate fate of reuniting with Eurydice in death on Hades' EBN live show.
  • Drone of Dread: The EBN programming is accompanied by a sustained droning sound to show the brainwashing, soul-sucking effects of prolonged exposure to Hades' network.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: After losing Eurydice by looking back, Orpheus drowns his sorrows in his music and skateboarding for at least a year.
  • Dumpster Dive: Towards the end of the film, Razoreus shows up with pizza he picked up dumpster-diving. He and Orpheus share the food before Orpheus leaves to confront Hades.
  • Dystopia: The citizens live in squalor, and Hades' Euthanasia Broadcast Network brainwashes and sucks out people's souls. Dying sends them to have their memories erased and either be reborn to make the same mistakes again, or made to work for the same network that's killing people.
  • Easy Amnesia: Orpheus's parents work in the memory-processing department of the Underworld and are able to erase citizens' memories with an ordinary paper shredder.
  • Electrified Bathtub: This almost happens to Eurydice when she accidentally knocks some equipment into a tub she's using to soak her feet; the near-miss causes her and Orpheus to take the plunge and get married right away.
  • Enforced Method Acting: In-universe. To coax a better performance out of Eurydice, the EBN lures Orpheus back to the Underworld with the chance to save her, rigs the resulting game show to kill him, and has her reunited with him in death. Both Hades and Persephone are pleased with her resulting work.
  • Everybody Hates Hades: Hades and Persephone are portrayed as evil broadcast managers who brainwash and enslave the masses via their TV network, and the plot kicks off when Eurydice is killed to get her on the show.
  • Excessive Mourning: A year after losing Eurydice, Orpheus either drowns his sorrows or lays around in bed all day, with Linus having to cover for canceled gigs and Scratch, Axel, and Razoreus having to remind him to eat.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Orpheus's parents are initially on track to earn a spot in the Elysian Fields Golf and Country Club, but if they're caught aiding Orpheus, their punishment is 100,000 years of word processing.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: Alluded to with the Underworld parking garage, which is deep below the earth and features flame jets to deter intruders.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: The Underworld parking garage has flame jets appear sporadically for Orpheus to dodge on the way to the final confrontation with Hades.
  • Five-Finger Discount: Scratch and Razoreus are, as Axel describes them, a pair of expert shoplifters and all-purpose vandals. Since they lack money to buy food, they often steal it or go dumpster-diving, with a scene revolving around taking boxes of Shredded Wheat from a delivery truck.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: A majority of Hades' brainwashing, soul-sucking broadcasts are aimed directly at the viewer, and the DVD menus have frequent, staticy cut-ins of the EBN logos.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Hades drags Orpheus away to participate in the Eurydice Door Show, a pillar behind him can only be seen for a few frames before the camera cuts away. It's covered in graffiti that reads "Turn Back."
  • Generic Graffiti: The Grey Zone is full of graffiti tags, with the most ominous being the Underworld parking garage that's covered in signs warning people not to risk it and go home.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The Furies decapitating Orpheus is done with a close-up of blood spattering on the leader's helmet when she lowers the chainsaw.
  • Great Offscreen War: Axel is a veteran of the Contra Drug Wars, which lost him the use of his hips and lower nervous system.
  • Greek Chorus: Axel narrates and comments on the story, and he, Scratch, and Razoreus often act as observers watching Orpheus's story, rarely actively participating in it.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: It's hinted Scratch is jealous of Eurydice and Orpheus's interest in her, as she accuses Orpheus of going soft on her when he blows off skating with her gang in favor of being with Eurydice.
  • Handy Helper: Since Axel's hips and lower nervous system don't work and he skates using his hands, Scratch and Razoreus help him get around in a hurry if need be.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack:
    • The EBN programming includes a heartbeat as part of the soundtrack as Axel and Razoreus watch a Grey Zoner's soul being taken.
    • When Eurydice is killed, a heartbeat sound plays over shots of her body and the guests reacting to the fall, ending as Hades' goons carry her away.
  • The Heavy: While Hades and Persephone co-manage the Euthanasia Broadcast Network, it's the unnamed EBN producer who convinces Hades to recruit Eurydice, which kickstarts the plot. He also provides the skateboard Orpheus uses in the second act of the movie.
  • Hellevator: The second Underworld entrance is found via a parking garage, with Cerberus as the elevator operator.
  • Hellgate: The EBN goons drag Eurydice through a door to the Underworld; after Orpheus turns around, it closes automatically to reveal a solid wall behind it. A second one resides in a shady parking garage.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: The EBN's Fiberglass Ensemble is a four-person group who only sing in "las", with no rhythm or melody to make it bearable. Hades loves how dull they are.
  • Hurting Hero: In the second half of the movie, Orpheus enters a depression after losing Eurydice, admitting to Linus that everything feels fake, he doesn't know who he is, and he doesn't have a life without Eurydice.
  • Identity Amnesia: Souls processed through the Styx are subject to having their entire memories erased. Orpheus's memories of his parents are selectively erased, and when it's done he has no idea who they are, and they have no idea who he is.
  • In-Universe Camera: Early on in the film, an EBN cameraman films Eurydice's dancing and Orpheus's attempt to stop the filming, which is seen through the camera's lens. Hades, Persephone, and the EBN producer are later seen reviewing the footage as they debate whether to force Eurydice to join the network.
  • Interscene Diegetic: Hades singing "Lazy River" for an EBN broadcast switches to scenes of Orpheus wading through the Styx's shredded paper hallways as the song continues playing, then back to Hades to close the song.
  • La Résistance: By the end of the movie, Axel, Scratch, and Razoreus are inspired to strike against Hades' network, both physically by blowing up an EBN satellite dish, and mentally by leading other skaters in remembering Orpheus and his quest to save Eurydice.
  • Living Legend: After being the only living person to perform on PTR and make it back, Orpheus becomes famous among the Grey Zone.
  • Lovely Assistant: Persephone takes this role in Hades' game shows, showing what Orpheus could win when he goes to rescue Eurydice the first time and presenting the two sliding doors crucial to his second attempt.
  • Magic Music: Orpheus's Gibsonian Lyre-Axe Guitar was created to unlock new realms of human consciousness. Its melody is so powerful it opens the door to the Underworld, energizes even the realm of the dead, and upstages Hades.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: The Furies all wear different face-concealing helmets to emphasize their pitiless role as Orpheus's executioners.
  • Masculine, Feminine, Androgyne Trio: Axel is a grizzled, tough-talking war veteran and the most Masculine of the prominent Grey Zoners, Razoreus acts as the Feminine as he wears bright colors and is the youngest and most emotionally sensitive of the trio, and Scratch is described in-movie as Androgyne; she identifies as female and shreds with the boys like the best of them, with her design and clothes being unisex.
  • Mentor in Sour Armor: Axel is abrasive, short-tempered, and foul-mouthed, but he looks out for the rest of the Grey Zoners and cares about Orpheus's well-being, especially in the second half of the movie.
  • Morton's Fork: In the Eurydice Door Show game, Orpheus is told that one door leads to Eurydice, while the other leads to his death. In actuality, Eurydice is locked in her dressing room, so which door he picked doesn't matter—he'll die anyway.
  • Mundane Luxury: Real food is hard to come by in the Grey Zone, and Scratch is ecstatic to stumble on some boxes of Shredded Wheat since they have real carbohydrates. Razoreus is equally excited about discarded pepperoni pizza with olives and mushrooms, taking some to share with Orpheus.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: After failing to save Eurydice the first time, Orpheus jumps at the chance to risk his life in a game to save her again; unfortunately for Orpheus, there's no way he can win this one.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Orpheus's manager is named Linus, who was his brother in some of the myths. Linus references this when he mentions treating Orpheus like a brother.
    • Persephone is only seen as Hades' wife and queen of the Underworld, but her role as goddess of spring gets a nod when she says Hades lets her go on summer vacations; in the myths she returned aboveworld every spring and summer.
    • Hades and Persephone's last name is Hecata, an alternate form of Hecate, the chthonic goddess of the night, crossroads, ghosts, and magic.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Hades and Persephone are given the last name Hecata, while Orpheus is given the last name Hellenbach.
  • Neck Lift: When Orpheus tries the EBN parking garage without the special skateboard, Cerberus grabs him by the throat and lifts him up before shoving him against a wall, and he's barely able to escape. It's implied Scratch's neck scar is from a similar incident.
  • New Media Are Evil: The film isn't subtle at all in its critique of television and other digital pursuits, as watching Hades' broadcasts first brainwashes people, then sucks the souls out of their bodies.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: The movie is implicitly set in Seattle with a reference to the Showbox venue, while the place the characters live is called the Grey Zone with no explicit location in Seattle defined. (An early draft of the movie had Orpheus be from South Seattle, but nowhere specific in the area.)
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: The Gibsonian Lyre-Axe Guitar is itself a prototype; only three were made and the designers all died or vanished. When it starts acting up in the second half of the movie, no one knows how to fix it due to it being so rare.
  • Not His Sled: Orpheus looking back and dooming Eurydice isn't the end of the story or his interactions with Hades; he's given a second chance to save her later on with a game show rigged to kill him.
  • Off with His Head!: When Orpheus fails the rigged game show, the Furies decapitate him with a chainsaw as punishment.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: A year after losing Eurydice, Orpheus learns of a mysterious parking garage that can only be traversed with the right kind of skateboard. Hades' network is more than willing to provide said board.
  • Out-of-Clothes Experience: In a dream sequence by a river and a scene where he reunites with Eurydice after death, Orpheus is almost completely naked, wearing only a loincloth.
  • Percussive Therapy: Axel, Razoreus, and Scratch blow off steam by improvising drumbeats on oil drums and trashing junked cars.
  • Pet the Dog: Persephone runs the EBN with her husband and is complicit in his soul-sucking broadcasts, but has a soft spot for Orpheus and true love, helping him get onstage and convincing Hades to let Orpheus and Eurydice go. Becomes a case of Bait the Dog when her continued interest in Orpheus leads to his death.
  • The Power of Rock: Orpheus's rock music energizes the Underworld inhabitants and threatens Hades' broadcasting power.
  • The Problem with Fighting Death: Hades mocks Orpheus's attempt to save Eurydice by reminding him that both of them ending up in the Underworld is inevitable. Orpheus counters that since he will get them anyway, he may as well give them a chance to go.
  • Product Placement: Boxes of Shredded Wheat are seen and stolen in a mid-movie scene. According to the filmmakers, the cereal was supplied instead of money and inserted into the movie, doubling as a cheeky pun on the title of the film.
  • Prophecy Twist: Subtly done when Orpheus consults the oracle for a tarot reading and advice on how to get Eurydice back; she cautions him against risking himself and says that he might get what he wants, but it won't be what he expects. True to the trope, Orpheus fails his mission to save Eurydice and dies for it, and is only reunited with her in death to boost Hades' ratings.
  • Psychoactive Powers: It's implied that Orpheus's Lyre-Axe Guitar's performance is tied to his confidence and determination to save Eurydice, as after he fails to save her the first time, it goes on the fritz and shorts out completely when the Furies move to kill him.
  • Publicity Stunt: In-universe. Hades turns Orpheus's quest to get Eurydice back into a PTR game show called "Don't Look Back" and enjoys a substantial ratings boost in the process. He does it again with the Eurydice Door Show, making a show of Orpheus's demise and post-death reunion with Eurydice.
  • Punny Name: Orpheus's last name is Hellenbach, or "hell and back."
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: While Orpheus fails to save Eurydice and is decapitated, his skull becomes a symbol of hope for the rebellion and future generations, and they strike out against the EBN by blowing up at least one of its satellite dishes.
  • Rescued from the Underworld: As in the myth, Orpheus must rescue his wife, Eurydice, from Hades, here an evil Underworld broadcasting corporation. In a twist on the traditional myth, he's later given a second chance to save her after successfully skating an Underworld parking garage.
  • Second-Face Smoke: When Orpheus confronts Hades the second time and affirms he wants a second chance to save Eurydice, Hades blows cigarette smoke in his face before agreeing to his request. Orpheus just stands there and takes it.
  • Setting Update: From Ancient Greece to a futuristic American dystopia with 1980s flair.
  • Severed Head Sports: After killing Orpheus, the Furies throw his head around like a football.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: When Orpheus and Eurydice make love, after a couple shots of them frolicking it cuts to Orpheus's bedside motion lamp going at a fast speed to indicate the passage of time.
  • Show Within a Show: Hades and Persephone run a TV broadcasting network in the Underworld, with the most popular show being Praise The Ray. The plot kicks off when Hades' goons murder Eurydice to get fresh talent for the network, and Orpheus's attempts to retrieve her are done as special programming segments in-universe.
  • Sigil Spam: The EBN logo, an eye with a television pupil, is on everything from their programs to their security cameras and products.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot:
    • Axel dishes out a majority of the film's profanity and peppers his sentences with swear words, with most other characters cursing only once or not at all.
    • In the second half of the film, Linus frequently curses as he attempts to get Orpheus to move on from losing Eurydice and go to scheduled gigs, to no avail.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: The Furies only appear for a few minutes at the climax of the movie, but have a huge impact as they're dispatched to successfully kill Orpheus.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Title: In-universe. After his appearance on Praise The Ray as the only living person to perform there and make it back, Orpheus's band goes from "The Shredders" to "Orpheus and the Shredders."
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Subverted when Hades' goons try to kidnap Eurydice by grabbing her upper arm while she's in the middle of coughing up bad food. Eurydice fights off her attacker and slaps him in the face, forcing them to hold her at gunpoint instead.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: When Orpheus navigates the Underworld parking garage, Hades is seen at a distance lighting a cigarette. As Orpheus approaches, Hades appears beside him as he passes a pillar.
  • Stylistic Suck: Many of Hades' TV programs are deliberately boring and inoffensive to sedate viewers, and his preferred style of music is a four-choir group singing in the dullest way imaginable. It contrasts heavily with Orpheus's punk-rock music and skateboarding.
  • Tagalong Kid: Razoreus is the youngest of the prominent Grey Zone citizens and looks up to Orpheus like an older brother. He's the most devastated by far when Orpheus dies.
  • Tarot Troubles: Linus convinces Orpheus to have his fortune told by an oracle; she divines the Lovers, the Tower, and the Hanged Man and cautions him against unnecessary risks. Being Orpheus, he doesn't listen.
  • There Are No Therapists: In the second half of the movie, Linus is increasingly frustrated with Orpheus's depression and moodiness after losing Eurydice and tries to force the issue to no avail before realizing he needs help. The closest thing to a therapist the Grey Zone offers is a traveling oracle, and Orpheus agrees to see her in the hopes of finding a way back to Eurydice.
  • Time Skip: After Orpheus makes it out of the Underworld but loses Eurydice in the process, a year passes, during which EBN gains even more broadcast control and Orpheus has become famous among the populace.
  • Together in Death: Exploited when Hades has the Furies kill Orpheus, letting his soul reunite with the equally-dead Eurydice to boost EBN's ratings again.
  • Trash-Can Band: Scratch uses oil drums and fences as percussion instruments partly for music and partly to blow off steam.
  • Undeathly Pallor: Hades, Persephone, and other Underworld residents have their hands and faces coated white; it's implied to be stage makeup since Hades is later seen without the pallor. When Eurydice dies and is made part of the EBN programming she becomes deathly pale as well, as does Orpheus when he dies.
  • Vicious Cycle: As Apollo points out, the memory-erasing department of the Styx means that when souls are reborn, they'll make the same mistakes all over again in perpetuity.
  • Villainous Crush: The EBN producer has eyes for Eurydice, much to her disgust, and it's implied Persephone is attracted to Orpheus, which is part of why she convinces Hades to let him go and call him back a year later.
  • We Interrupt This Program: Orpheus's second chance to save Eurydice preempts the usual EBN programming, with the announcer going live to the show.
  • Wedding Smashers: Hades' goons disguise themselves as wedding caterers to murder and kidnap Eurydice during the reception.
  • Widowed at the Wedding: Orpheus and Eurydice have barely said their vows when Hades' goons murder the bride and take her to the Underworld.