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I put this eighties cult classic right up there with Blazing Saddles
(1974) and Dr. Strangelove (1964) as one of the best satires ever to
hit the silver screen. No exaggeration: this is one bizarre and one
very funny flick. Seeing it again after almost twenty years, I gotta
say, it lost nothing.
Emilio Estevez stars as Otto Maddox, a head-strong and slightly naive ex-supermarket stock clerk and sometime punk rocker. He's kicking a can down the street when up pulls Bud, "a repo man," played with a fine degeneracy by Harry Dean Stanton, who asks him if he wants to make ten bucks. (Otto's reply is memorable but not printable here.) When he learns that Bud just wants him to drive a car and not...uh, never mind, he bargains it to twenty-five bucks. When he finds out that Bud repossesses cars for the "Helping Hand Acceptance Corporation," he is sorely offended. But when he realizes how intense the life is (and how bleak his other employment opportunities), he becomes a repo man himself.
Meanwhile there's J. Frank Parnell (Fox Harris wearing a demonic grin and weird black and empty frame glasses) driving a "hot" '64 Chevy Malibu. "You don't want to look in the trunk, Officer," he tells a cop who pulls him over on a desert highway. By the way, the map under the opening credits shows the action of this film beginning somewhere on old Route 66 in New Mexico, suggesting alien mecca Roswell territory perhaps, but most of scenes were clearly shot in LA, and the desert scene just mentioned was also probably shot in California as evidenced by the Joshua Trees in the background.
What director and scriptster Alex Cox does is combine urban ghetto realism with bizarro sci-fi shtick. He adds a fine punk soundtrack including the title song from Iggy Pop with a brief appearance by the Circle Jerks, and wow are they appropriate, but you have be a punker or a 15-year-old to really visualize their moniker. The supporting players, Sy Richardson as Lite, a black cat repo ace, and Tracey Walter as Miller, a demented street philosopher, really stand out. I also liked the black girl repo person with attitude (Vonetta McGee).
The real strength of the movie, aside from probably the best performance of Estevez's career, is in the street scene hijinks, the funny and raunchy dialogue, and all those sight gags. My favorite scene has Otto coming home to find his parents smoking weed on the couch zombie-like in front of the TV listening to a Christian evangelist while he scarfs down "Food" out of a blue and white can from the refrigerator. I mean "Food" is on the label, period. The Ralphs plain wrap (remember them) are all over the sets, in the convenience store, at the supermarket, bottles of plain wrap whiskey and plain wrap "Tasteetos," plain wrap beer and plain wrap cigarettes.
Some other good shtick: the dead rat thrown in the car with the woman that doesn't accomplish its purpose; the money in the presents that Otto throws out the window busted open by the tires of another car for us to see and drool over; the "I left a book of matches" line that diverts Otto's idiot friend pumping gas; the pepper spray; Miller by the ashcan fire contemplating the disappeared from the future and "the lattice of coincidence that lays on top of everything" (trippy, man); and the punk criminal act of "Let's go get sushi and not pay." And Otto's clean pressed white dress shirt and the tie--I love the tie--as Lite tells him, "Doing my job, white boy."
See this for the authentic eighties street scenes and for my UCLA Bruin buddy (by way of Oxford) director Alex Cox who dreamed the whole thing up. Only an Englishman could really see America authentically.
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
I first watched 'Repo Man' around 1985 or 1986 and it knocked me out. I've watched it many times since and it STILL knocks me out! Alex Cox has made quite a few strange movies since this, mostly excellent (check out 'Three Businessmen' sometime), a few not so good, but this is gonna be the movie he will always be remembered for. It's a black comedy, a science fiction movie, a buddy film, a punk rock movie, it's all kinda things. There has been nothing quite like it made before or since! Emilio Estevez has made some really bad movies in the 80s and 90s but he is excellent as disenfranchised surburban punk Otto, and the legendary Harry Dean Stanton ('Cool Hand Luke', 'The Rebel Rousers', 'Two-Lane Blacktop', 'Alien', 'Paris, Texas',etc.etc.) gives one of his most memorable performances as Bud, the repo man who tries to be his mentor. The supporting cast are all first rate, especially Tracey Walter (Miller) and Sy Richardson (Lite), two actors who never became household names but who still generate knowing smiles and nods from cult movie fans everywhere at the mere mention of their names. Also keep an eye out for an almost unrecognizable Miguel Sandoval ('Get Shorty', 'Blow'). Cox would use him in most of his subsequent movies, most notably his absurdist classic 'Three Businessmen'. 'Repo Man' also has a celebrated soundtrack by Iggy Pop, Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies and others. The Circle Jerks also perform in a memorable sequence. This movie is a cult classic which looks as good now as it did back in the 1980s. I love it. Highly recommended!
Those who were unlucky enough to reach adulthood during the 1980s or
1990s will relate most to this film. Like all the best films, it sets
no specific genre for itself, instead preferring to tell a story and
leaving the audience to respond in its own way. Many don't get this
film as a result, and a lot of the sight gags require an understanding
of 1980s commercialism. The reward for getting it, on the other hand,
is one of the trippiest films ever committed to celluloid.
Director Alex Cox uses his connections to, or perhaps that should be knowledge of, the American punk scene to full effect here. The soundtrack is unlike anything heard in films of the same period, with numerous standout tunes that demand just as much attention as the on screen action. With lyrical snatches like "let's all leech off the state, gee, money's really great!", every moment in the film, musical or otherwise, is a commentary on the plight of Otto's generation, and generations since.
Aside from the cameos from numerous musicians that you can connect to more famous figures in a Kevin Bacon sort of manner (Chuck Biscuits would later drum for Danzig), the film is very well-known for containing some figures who were either famous at the time, or would become famous in subsequent years. The obvious example is Emilio Estevez, but cast members like Harry Dean Stanton or Sy Richardson will also give off a spark of recognition. A lot of the film becomes a game of "where have I seen that guy before?". Not only that, but at least half of the lines are inherently quotable.
If there is one flaw in the film, I can't think of it. The rain of ice cubes is a bit poorly realised, but that just adds to the film's effect. One notable writer has been quoted as saying "learn to see the worst films, sometimes they are sublime". Repo Man is sublime, but is also one of the best, for a number of reasons. Instead of using the money hose to wash away its creative problems, it revels in its inherent stupidity or weirdness. Where else can you see a woman with a robotic hand made out of tinfoil, and actors working so well around it?
In all, I gave Repo Man a 10 out of 10. If you're into weirdness, this is the Holy Grail. Those who enjoyed films like This Is Spinal Tap or Rebel High, ponder no further - get this film on DVD-Video *now*.
"Repo Man" was one of the films that came out in 1984 that, in a way,
revolutionized film story telling, as we knew it. We are given a hint
about what's coming right on the opening sequence when the Chevy
Malibu, driven by the spooky Frank Parnell, is stopped on a highway.
Alex Cox, the innovative director of "Repo Man", made a film that mixes a lot of movie genres with a satisfying result. That's why when it was discovered, it became a huge cult movie. It was one of the films that had midnight screenings for its many fans that flocked to have a great time and who identified themselves with the movie.
The best thing in the film is the interaction between Bud and Otto. Harry Dean Stanton has always play cool parts and this movie is no exception. Emilio Estevez gave, what might be, his best movie performance as the young punk that gets to meet a world he never knew existed. All the players gave their best to Mr. Cox and the result is a film that, in some ways, might baffle at first, but once the viewer gets into it, he will be hooked.
Iggy Pop's music is an excellent partner for the action. Alex Cox is an innovative director, as he proves with "Repo Man".
By the time I got around to seeing this movie, I was prepared for
something great. One of the best movies I'd ever seen. I wasn't really
'Repo Man' is so original, so funny, so weird and so frequently brilliant that it just can't be ignored. It also has aged fairly well. It looks pretty good in 2004 for a cheap cult film of the 80s.
I can't really say much about the storyline without giving it away, but what I will say is a young punk kid is taken in to the weird, wild world of repo men, who all take speed and keeping the repo man honour is more important to them than to mafia bosses.
It also features a brilliant soundtrack with the likes of punk rock icons Iggy Pop, The Ramones and The Circle Jerks.
A brilliant film, recommended to anyone.
Today most part of culture is based in consume: we are what we dress, what we drink, what we eat. The punk scene started more that twenty years ago because the young and bold realized this, unfurtunately, we still are what we consume. Repo-man is the best picture I´ve seen that resembles the punk sesibilities of "no future" and "anarchy" and its no wonder Alex Cox later directed Sid and Nancy. In this movie you can find that ugly stetic, nihilistic breath and the wasted youth of the young people who crashes to the capitalistic jaws of a system understood by few. This is one hell of a movie, and 18 years later after being being made, it ended being profetic. In fact,1999`s Figth Club seems to me like Repo Man updated, and the X-files and MIB are previewed here. Repo Man is a brave masterpiece on the "no future"
I've seen this movie more times than I know. Fifty at least, since I was
able to find a copy two years ago. And I still don't know what it all
But I sure do love it anyways.
I suppose Repo Man was one of those essentials in the catalogue of must see punk movies. I think that's where I first heard of it, as a punk science fiction movie. That explains why it's such a crazy movie.
Emilio Esteves is down and out suburban punker Otto, wasting away in his little town with no way out. He just got fired from his crappy price tag job at some hoser supermarket. His girlfriend dumps him and hooks up with newly released convict, Duke, who, along with a punker named Archie make a hobby out of robbing stores. Plus, his friend Kevin is a total nerd. And his parents, perpetually brain dead from overexposure to the tv preachers, gave away the money they promised him, which would've helped him get out that dump.
Bud (played by super duper Harry Dean Stanton), a Repo Man, turns Otto on to the dangerous business of reposessing cars, which then becomes Otto's new occupation and introduction to some pretty crazy sh!t. Aside from dodging bullets by angry debtors and the fierce competition among the Repo Men to obtain a high stakes Chevy Malibu, Otto is also turned on to some UFO conspiracies as weird scientists go searching for extra terrestrials. That town Otto lives in is one crazy place. There's a lot going on, but it is so wierd, that it actually turns out to be good.
If you like punk culture movies, this is definitely one to try out. Plus, you get a slamming soundtrack with most of the songs performed by the Stooges and the Circle Jerks. The Jerks also appear as the lounge act in the bar, and the guy who plays Kevin, Zander Schloss, later joins the Jerks.
The plot is impossible to describe but, basically, it's about a 20 something
named Otto (Estevez) who works as a repo man. That's about it...the movie
chronicles all his bizarre adventures and strange people he
I saw this when I was in college in 1984--it totally blew me away. I went back to see it 4 more times! It had a huge following on college campuses back then. Sadly, it seems to have disappeared. That's a shame because I think this is perfect for high school, college kids and people with open minds. It is a true cult film.
There are many great lines--too many to get in one viewing--this film demands multiple viewings. The actors deal well with the offbeat dialogue and situations--especially Estevez and Stanton. As for what it means---who cares? Every time I saw it I saw something different in it.
A classic. Do not miss!
Watching "Repo Man", one gets a sense of just how empty our modern
world is. The movie has disaffected punk Otto Maddox (Emilio Estevez)
becoming a repo man, meaning that he repossesses cars of people who
missed payments. Through this, he gets to know the wacky punk world
even further. But there's one car that may be harder to repossess: not
only do various other people want this car, but there's something in
"Repo Man" may be known as a cult movie, but it deserves more recognition than that. Aside from being a window into the early-'80s punk culture, it shows the disintegration of American society. Alex Cox created a real gem here. Estevez is perfect in his role, as are Harry Dean Stanton as a detective, and Tracey Walter as the strange car's driver.
This was a surprise for me, I really didn't expect 'Repo Man' to hit
such a chord with me, and alas it succeeded in making me a fan. I was
admittedly a little put off by the film's supposed punk outset but was
glad to find that it didn't take itself seriously and often had its
tongue planted firmly in the cheek.
What Alex Cox delivers here is a timeless classic that has seemingly influenced a lot of my favourite films to date, and of course was influenced itself by other personal favourites. So not only was it natural for me to love 'Repo Man', but it won me over on its own rights with its wonderfully satirical tone and hilarious yet interesting dystopian science fiction themes.
Although incredibly annoying at first, the film's characters eventually won me over and by the end of the film I had learned to love every one of them. This was thanks to the effective and focused characterisation dealt with by Cox, allowing his characters to grow from being dislikable idiots to harmless jesters. Indeed if it wasn't for the characters, 'Repo Man' wouldn't be as funny as it is and it wouldn't even be as interesting. In key with the writing, the cast also do a great job with the handling of their characters, all turning in solid and memorable performances.
If there is one complaint I have it is that the pacing sometimes goes a little out of balance and leads to the story to getting caught up in trivial scenes that either should have been cut or been made more progressive to the plot. Nevertheless, I absolutely loved this film (especially that brilliant ending!) and recommend it to fans of science fiction comedy or satires. Granted not everyone will enjoy at as much as I did, but it certainly deserves a watch.
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