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Repo! The Genetic Opera

Published: Saturday, Jan. 10 2009 8:31 p.m. MST

REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA — ★ — Alexa Vega, Anthony Head, Paul Sorvino; rated R (violence, gore, drugs, profanity, torture, vulgarity, brief nudity, slurs, brief sex); Tower Theatre

"Repo! The Genetic Opera" comes from one of the creators of the "Saw" movies — and it also features the dubious musical "talents" of Paris Hilton.

That should tell you all you need to know about this gory, off-putting musical, which tries to combine Gothic rock stylings with the grotesque sensibilities of so-called, "torture-porn" horror-thrillers.

Unfortunately, it lacks the goofiness and campiness of the 1975 movie version of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," which became a cult hit because it was also good-natured and surprisingly sweet at the same time.

This particular movie is much more unpleasant, and its musical numbers are much less distinctive or memorable than those of "Rocky Horror."

Alexa Vega (the "Spy Kids" movies) stars as Shilo Wallace, a teen who's been sheltered from the outside world by her physician father, Nathan (Anthony Head, from TV's "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer").

As it turns out, that might be for the best, because in this not-too-distant future, mankind is obsessed with cosmetic surgery, organ transplants and grave robbing.

The man who's been profiting from this nightmarish situation is Rotti Largo (Paul Sorvino), the head of Geneco.

This sinister corporation offers life-saving transplants and surgeries to patients, but then sends out its "Repo Men" to reclaim the organs and such if the unlucky recipients default on their payments.

Unbeknownst to Shilo, her increasingly unbalanced father is one of these deadly Repo Men.

If there was a right person to direct this film, it certainly isn't "Saw II," "Saw III" and "Saw IV" helmer Darren Lynn Bousman. When scenes start running long or don't work like they should, he simply drenches things in buckets of blood.

Of course, his cast can't decide whether they're supposed to be playing this with a straight face (as Head does), or completely over-the-top (like supporting performers Hilton, Rob Zombie regular Bill Moseley and Terrace Zdunich, who co-wrote the script and the original source material).

The real sign of the movie's awfulness is that even the musically talented Sarah Brightman and Joan Jett can't hold our interest for long.

"Repo! The Genetic Opera" is rated R and features strong, often graphic violent content (gunplay and shootings, slashings, stabbings and violence against women), strong blood and gore, drug content and references (painkillers and hypodermic needle use), strong sexual language (profanity, vulgar slang and other suggestive talk), scenes depicting vivisection, vulgar gestures, brief female nudity, derogatory language and slurs, and brief simulated sex and other sexual contact. Running time: 98 minutes.

E-mail: jeff@desnews.com

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