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Synthesis - Columns

From 2008 to 2015 I wrote a weekly column for Synthesis Weekly under the name Zooey Mae. What started as an outlet to review graphic novels and comic books evolved over the years to cover everything from pop culture to whatever menial event was happening in my life. Looking back, I think I spent much too much time regaling Chico with tales of my allergies. 

Addicted to the Knife? Addicted to the Knife!

Originally published in Synthesis Weekly: July 2009

Sometimes in really horrible situations, you can still find a little something that makes it all seem not so bad. Even the shittiest of encounters, friendships and trips to the dentist certainly have a silver lining, no matter how worn or tarnished it might seem. For instance, a really exhausting six-year mindfuck (technical term), might have the small positive detail that you get some good music, and film suggestions out of the mix. Which brings us to this issues' focal point, Repo: The Genetic Opera. Not a comic book, but dear readers, I simply couldn't pass up the opportunity to bring this fabulous film to your attention. Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, Repo was originally written for the stage, then later adapted to the screen.

The year is 2056, and after an epidemic of organ failures a corporation called GeneCo rises from the ashes. GeneCo exists to sell organ transplants to the population, and quickly popularizes surgery as a fashion statement. We're not talking plastic surgery, we're talking surgery of the “replace your spine so your x-ray is pretty” variety. If someone can't afford the surgery, GeneCo is right by their side to offer them a nice little payment plan. However, if they can't keep up with the payments, GeneCo has no choice but to release the Repo Men to repossess the organ(s) in question. GeneCo also releases a painkiller called Zydrate to help with post-surgery pain, and a copycat version is also sold on the black market. Extracted from cadavers, street Zydrate is sold by graverobbers turned drug dealers.

Repo: The Genetic Opera is like Sin City meets The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Crow, set to a rock opera. This film is absolutely littered with a strange yet somehow perfect mix of musicians and actors. Paris Hilton plays an heiress addicted to surgery who can't sing...not much of a stretch. Joining Hilton in the cast is Alexa Vega (Spy Kids), Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas), Anthony Head (Giles in the tv version of Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Sarah Brightman (Phantom of the Opera), Bill Moseley (Army of Darkness and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2), Nivek Ogre (vocalist of Skinny Puppy), and even Joan Jett!

The reviews are incredibly mixed, and it seems that critics either completely loved, or absolutely hated Repo. Horror.com called it “a spirited, absorbing, astounding, thought provoking futuristic fulsome fable”, while Rotten Tomatoes deems Repo as “bombastic and intentionally gross”. I'll let you all be the judge of what you think, but I do have one piece of advice before watching this movie. It's a rock opera. For Christs sake, don't take it seriously. It's visually magnificent, with an engaging storyline and well developed characters, but don't expect to take any life lessons away from the experience.

That's all for this week, but remember readers, every shit-storm has it's own silver lining. Sometimes you just have to look closely. 

Arielle Mullen