Weird, sexy, dark shit. Black leather and nasty violence, bloody messes and flamboyant costumes. Recently I saw two movies that had these enticing properties in spades upon spades. One of them was actually good, and the other was enjoyable trash.
Repo! The Genetic Opera is not a good movie. I did, however, find it immensely enjoyable. The film very much wants to be the next Rocky Horror Picture Show, and its earnest desire to supplant that flick as the reigning midnight movie is actually sort of cute. Rocky Horror, though, is ultimately a fun little romp about exciting underwear with not much in the way of blood and gore. Repo!, though, more than outperforms Rocky Horror when it comes to blood, gore, and sheer fuck up-edness.
The plot, such as it is, focuses on Anthony Stewart Head (you know, Giles from Buffy) as a futuristic repo man who extracts designer organs from deadbeats who can’t pay their surgery bill. Also, there’s some implied sibling fucking and a neon-blue corpse-based designer drug in their somewhere. Also, Sarah Brighton sings (oh yeah- it’s a rock opera with songs of dubious musical quality) and Paris Hilton’s face falls off. It is awesome. It’s not good, artful, or redeeming, but it kicks ass. I would recommend watching it with lots of booze and lots of friends. My group peppered the screen with MST3K style retorts, and we frequently had to stop for “booze breaks.” Repo! isn’t the next Rocky Horror, but the world is a bit more nifty because of its existence.
Titus, though, is an actual good movie. This is surprising, given the source material, Titus Andronicus, considered one of Shakespeare’s worst plays. The Bard wrote it very early in his career, and I suspect that the budding playwright was thinking of little else besides how to pack the house with rabble. This is several orders of magnitude down from, say, King Lear. Titus Andronicus is grindhouse Shakespeare. Heads and hands are lopped of characters, rape and insanity feature prominently, someone gets their tongue ripped from their head, an absurd body count mounts, cannibalism and slaughter ensue, and there’s even some blaxploitation in there.
Director Julie Taymor obviously realized this, so Titus is an insane, weird, costume-heavy, gory, version of the play that gleefully slams anachronisms together, mixing gladiator armor with overcoats, vibing together the aesthetics of ancient and fascist Rome in a blend of insanity that just sort of works with the over-the-top source material. Anthony Hopkins plays the title character with more than a little of his Hannibal Lecter-y scenery chewing, and it’s an entirely appropriate leading performance to go with all of the swirly weird shit, severed limbs, casual murder, and general shininess that pervades the film. If you like Shakespeare (or just movies with really nice costumes and/or orgies) see it. That old Elizabethian hack would be proud.