Tag Archives: morbid

Repo! The Genetic Opera

In a crossover genre that reminded me a bit of the only other big exposure I’ve had to operetta style plays/shows (i.e. Cats), Repo! The Genetic Opera was a twist and melding of something I’m not used to seeing at all. And, big plus, in the form of a movie. And what more could seal this musical deal? Darren Lynn Bousman, director of Saws 2-4, was the director. That’s a pretty sweet marmalade right there. And I was surprisingly not bored during this horror/rock opera/film extravaganza.

In a strange dystopian intro scene that may remind those of us who have seen Mystery Men of a similar grimy town flyby, there is a new way of living in the city. And that is prologued by the GraveRobber (Terrance Zdunich). In this new dark and sinister world, people are living longer. How, you may ask? Through the use of artificial organs. You

GraveRobber, the teller of our tale. (Is that a cat from Cats right next to him?)

can pay for these organs with a monthly fee, but it must be paid on time to GeneCo. If not, “Rotti” Largo (Paul Sorvino) will send his RepoMen after you and remove it from you.

The story focuses around a doctor Nathan Wallace (Anthony Head) and his sick daughter, Shilo (Alexa Vega). In a story of sick and twisted nip/tuck pleasure, betrayal and love, and discovered identities, Repo! The Genetic Opera combines the operatic style of singing with the gruesomeness of shock rock. What I found surprising, coming from a director who has done such a violent and intestine filled series, gave a bit of humor and poise to the blood and guts. I was never grossed out (as if this film or any other could do that) by the events unfolding before me, it was more with the type of music and subject matter. It was a winning combo, to be sure.

Paris Hilton, can you tell?

I liked the subject matter (dystopian world of the morbid) and found it to be a simple enough plot to get across with how many underlying motives were at play. What I was semi-impressed with was the singing. Anthony Head, star of Buffy and featured on my favorite British comedy, Little Britain, was a phenomenal singer. Alexa Vega, a bit weak, which surprised me. Terrence Zdunich was a phenomenally good stage presence in front of the camera. I enjoyed his pop out of a trash can every once in a while. He had the Cats vibe down. His morbid look was appealing and flashy, almost like a Rum Tum Tugger (although this guy didn’t do any theater before this, so far as I can tell…).

Some surprising cast though in this film. Paul Sorvino, star of musicals and dramas and a couple of Italian Mafioso films, was a good presence, but weak as a counter character/villain to Nathan (Anthony Head) the age difference was a bit of a problem for the plot device they had to deal with, and so it just came off as odd. His singing was a bit weak too, but I think that’s something that happens when you have to speak/sing lines in a rock opera. Sarah Brightman, English singing extraordinaire was delightfully pleasant for as small of a role as she was given. Her

A little bit of blood never hurt Buffy…

singing sent a few chills down the old spine.

And there’s even more! Throw in Bill Moseley, actor from a shit-ton of horror films, including a few Rob Zombie vehicles. And Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy (industrial metal band for those of you who don’t know)? Who knew? I could barely put the names and the faces together with this nip/tuck of a performance. Oh, and Paris Hilton for sex appeal. No big surprise there.

Enjoy that open wound, guy.

In an hour and a half of rockin’ and a rollin’, you’re exposed to the world of blood and guts, drums and guitar. I’ve never seen a movie like this before, and this sets the bar sort of high on expectations (and no, I won’t be watching Rent anytime soon). So move aside The Wiz, because there’s a new favorite musical film in town. And it’s got more of an edge to it. So strap in and hide your organs for Repo! A 6.4 out of 10.

 

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The Rite

I gotta tell you, I’m a sucker for exorcist/devil related films. Any horror movie that tries new ways to prove the Devil walks the earth, I’m on board with believing it. These movies are usually more frightening than gore/slasher/paranormal films. Why? There are a lot of people out there who pray for their immortal souls. Why? Because demons and the Devil himself walk among us, waiting to corrupt us and enter our bodies. In The Rite’s case, no human being is an exception. We are all judge and condemned by spiritual forces. By God himself.

Now, I’m a realist. But I love losing myself in movies like this. Any preacher/demon interaction scenes give me goosebumps.

Colin O'Donoghue. Didn't know he was Irish...

A good shaking of the faith scene here and there is good too. And I love directors/writers who push the boundaries on exactly what it means to be possessed. Different symbolical entities that manifest themselves in unspeakable ways are always something of an interest of mine. Without a strong biblical background, I love the ways the Bible is used to push the envelope with demons and what they can do on a mortal plane.

But anyways, enough of my obsession with the possessed. This movie follows the religious experiences of one Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue). I’ve not seen this guy in any other films, but I was quite impressed with his “I don’t believe in faith” performance and the scientific approach he took. But Michael has two options in his father Istvan’s (Rutger Hauer) eyes. He can either pursue the life of a mortician or that of a priest/preacher. Choosing the less morbid/path his father didn’t choose, Michael begins his training as a priest.

Michael's first experience with an exorcism.

But his faith has never taken any form in Michael. And so Michael’s religious teacher, Father Matthew (Toby Jones) (Great little performance from a great English actor.) suggests Michael take an exorcism class in Italy. It is here that, with no faith in Father Xavier’s (Ciaran Hinds) teaching, is asked to seek the exorcistic teachings of Father Lucas Trevant (Anthony Hopkins). And with this, Michael is shown the tricks of the Devil, and the demons in himself he must conquer.

Now, I need to extoll how good Anthony Hopkins performance is. For the first half of the movie, he plays the nonchalant exorcist. This guy goes around curing people of the Devil himself, no big deal. This guy could care less about whether or not Michael believes in the Devil. He plays the carefree teacher who doesn’t care about his pupil. But then, out of nowhere, due to a shaken faith, Anthony Hopkins channels straight Hannibal Lecter. Could not believe where this came from (can’t tell). But you have to watch how amazingly evil Anthony Hopkins becomes. (Interesting note, there’s a mention of a “Welsh priest.” Coincidence that a movie based on true events would include a role with a Welsh older man? Gotta be fate, or gotta be Hopkins.)

Another little kudos for this movie: special effects. There are 3 scenes in which computer graphics are

Anthony Hopkins. Are you scared yet?

employed. That’s it. Everything else: make-up artists/actual tricks of the camera. When a movie can pull of subtle elements of horror without overdoing the special fx function, then it deserves to be noticed. I feel as if this movie was overlooked as far as horror movies go. This movie has a great balance of horror and plot. Something to watch and take stock in. And that’s worth the few intense horror scenes that’re shown. This movie almost felt like it was the prequel/setup for The Exorcist. (Michael Kovak goes to Chicago to be a priest. Coincidence?)

Pray for your sins. The Devil is coming.

Great Italy shots of Rome and Vatican City. Beautiful buildings to function as B-roll between scenes. The buildings looked (could have been?) Actual religious buildings in Vatican City. It was a great visual experience. I give credit to Mikael Hafstrom, the director of this film. Having some horror movies under his belt already, this Swede really has it down in his 13th film. So thank you, all that worked on this exorcism film. It was great. 8.8 out of 10.


Soul Eater: The Nightmare Before Anime

Ever since my girlfriend and her sister cosplayed the Thompson twins from Soul Eater, I had developed a growing

Liz and Patty. Yes.

interest in watching Soul Eater. I didn’t realize at the time what this show would hold in store for me. (Added bonus if Christopher Sabat does any voice in an anime.) As I began watching this 51 episode anime, I found myself falling in love with the characters and caring for what would happen to them (although I had the ending ruined for me by complete accident.) It didn’t detract from the pulse-pounding episodes of battle after battle that ensued, and I found a new love in this Halloween-type anime that sent chills down my spine and laughs throughout my body as I spent a week watching this amazing anime. I was enraptured.

This anime follows the story of three “Meisters” and their “Weapons.” These duos of weapon and wielder take on what are known as Kishins, the tainted souls of creatures that have become monsters and feed on other people’s souls. Once 99 Kishin souls are collected, and one witch’s soul, then the weapon is deemed worthy of being used by Lord Death. This grim reaper is the essential Headmaster of the DWMA, also known as the Death Weapon Meister Academy. He installed this school to battle Kishins, and it has done a good job up to this point.

The doom and gloom of Death City.

It is at this point that things begin to go downhill. The evil witch Medusa (Luci Christian) and others have made plans to bring down the DWMA, and it is up to three brave Meisters, Maka Albarn (Laura Bailey), Black Star (Brittney Karbowski), and Death the Kid (Todd Haberkorn) to defeat the evil plot of the witches and Kishins. Teamed up with their weapons, Soul Eater (Micah Solusod), Tsubaki (Monica Rial), and the Thompson twins Liz (Jamie Marchi) and Patty (Cherami Leigh).

So it may seem weird that Meisters, who are people, are fighting using weapons who are also people. But these people are born with the ability to change into weapons at will. These weapons are special as well. A Meister and its Weapon have a special bond known as Soul Resonance. This bond allows Meister and Weapon to combine into one soul and creates a higher power in which to defeat enemies. But these three are not on the level of the Professors or Lord Death himself at the DWMA. And it is the school’s purpose to train these Meisters and Weapons in order to make them formidable opponents against Kishins.

The one thing that stands out about this anime, to me, is the style in which the plot is set. The doom and gloom of death and souls is combined with the comedic

Soul Eater. With some pizazz.

drawings of the artists. This gives it an anime meets Nightmare Before Christmas feel to it. The grinning Sun and Moon with blood dripping from their teeth give it that comedic element, mixed with the morbid. The grim reapers and monster encountered, drawn in what appears to be Jack the Ripper Whitechapel area sets up one of the best environments I’ve ever encountered in an anime.

Black Star. Badass.

And there are some great english voice actors that are in this anime. It would take too long to give a whole list, so I’ll just highlight a few. I thought Micah Solusod gave a great performance as Soul Eater, Maka’s weapon scythe. His grave voice and determined attitude comes across great through Micah, although I’ve never heard of him before. Brittney Karbowski was amazing as the cocky Black Star, my all time favorite ninja child and all around badass. John Swasey was great as Lord Death. His goofy voice gave the anime a Jack Skellington element with his personality and outlook. Vic Mignogna was hilarious as Maka’s father and Death Scythe Spirit. His obsession with seeking his daughter’s approval was always worth a laugh. Chuck Huber was fantastic as the madness induced Professor Doctor Franken Stein. His tormented character fought back and forth, and this was amazingly done by Huber. Maxey Whitehead was great as the insecure, gender-bender Crona. The duo of Crona and Ragnarok against the world and the lack of acceptance was heart wrenching to say the least. And yes, Troy Baker was amazing as Excalibur, the useless, fool dueling weapon of legend and lore.

And that’s about it. To get too much into the story might ruin the anime with spoilers, so I’ll leave you with this. If you’re looking for a light-hearted shonen with gore, guts (courage/bravery), and glorious fighting, this anime is for you. I give Soul Eater a 9 out of 10.

And here’s a taste of the show with a tribute to Death the Kid and the sexy Thompson Twins. Hooray.