A Repo! Rip-off?

When I first heard about Repo! The Genetic Opera, it was premiering at the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal. It seemed to be everything I hated: pointless gore, forced cult appeal and a Hot Topic aesthetic all wrapped up in a rock opera I figured I’d dislike as much as its predecessor, Rocky Horror. So when I caught myself tapping along to one of the pre-released tracks (“Zydrate Anatomy”), I was already surprised. And downright shocked when I watched the movie and actually enjoyed it.

The film tells the story of a dystopian future in which organ failure has crippled the globe and the market for replacement organs is monopolized by GeneCo, a company as necessary as it is corrupt. But what happens when a patient can’t pay the debt they owe? The Repo Man comes calling. The story itself is the tale of this Repo Man, who is by night a cruel killer but by day a single father trying to protect his ailing daughter from the darkness of the world. Throw in a drug-dealing graverobber, a vapid junkie socialite played by Paris Hilton, a blind opera singer and a cast of other strange characters and you get something truly unique–even if that uniqueness isn’t come by naturally.

Perhaps appropriately for a film that demands to be a cult classic, the studios weren’t big on it and it never got a proper release, languishing at little festivals until it hit DVD a few months ago. But now there’s a new movie coming out and it seems just a bit…strange. Here’s the word from The Examiner

I am a fan of the rock/horror opera film, Repo! The Genetic Opera. I liked the originality and despite some tacky song numbers it was a very entertaining movie. Lately I’ve been reading teasers and rumors about a Universal Studios picture in the works with a similar title and a near mirror of the storyline. Repo! Wasn’t a mainstream movie and it didn’t make as big as impact as it should have, but it has its followers and had enough success for the sequel rumors to begin circulating. However, I want to make it very clear right now that this Repo Men! film is not, I repeat, not the sequel to the Genetic Opera. To be perfectly honest I can’t figure out this Repo Men! movie, I just don’t see the point in making a film so similar.

Repo Men! Centers on Remy, played by Jude Law, a repo man made up of artificial organs, who receives a heart transplant. When he struggles to make the payments, he must go on the run from his former partner, played by Forest Whitaker. Beth, played by Alice Braga, married but lost touch with Remy while he was serving in the Army. Ten years later, Beth, down on her luck and retrofitted with artificial organs, is reunited with Remy as they seek to run. For Genetic Opera fans this will sound very familiar.

I’m not against this film; I just don’t understand why a studio like Universal would go through the process of making a film that is so very similar to another. I realize that some of you are wondering why I would question the integrity of the film, but the sequel fad is roaring strong and I’m afraid that this may turn out to be another slip in the wrong direction. I certainly hope that this doesn’t mean that other studios will begin ripping off plotlines from less successful films. I’ll keep watching for updates and we’ll just have to wait and see where this film ends up.

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Now, some might call this a misunderstanding, a case of accidental similarity. But a look at this interview with the writer, director and actress Alexa Vega tells a different story.