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Repo Man

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There are no generic brands in this film - when Bud buys some drink, we see a six pack of cans marked "drink". Ditto with beer, peaches, and anything else that you can plainly see on shelves. At the time, this was seen as a very cool thing, but rather than being deliberate on the part of the filmmakers, it was mainly due to a lack of authorisation or sponsorship from any major companies. Director Alex Cox said all of the generic products including beer were donated by Ralph's supermarkets. Another company donated 100 of the "magic tree" air fresheners -but without the scent!



More Trivia from Repo Man
Repo Man is among the all-time greats in cult cinema. It possesses a darkness of humour, a blackness of tone that is only equalled by "Heathers" or "Time Bandits" from the 80s. But neither of those films, despite their brilliance and humour, feature the downright weird, distorted view of life that Repo Man has.

We open with a map-montage overlaid with Iggy Pop’s instrumental theme to the movie. Then we see J. Frank Parnell, an older man in a 64 Chevy Malibu, driving down a deserted highway. When he is pulled over by a motorcycle cop, and the cop asks what is in the trunk, Parnell replies “You don’t want to look in there.” And he’s right – when the cop opens the trunk he is instantly vaporised.

Next, we meet punk Otto (Emilio Estevez) and Kevin (Zander Schloss), both of whom are working at a convenience store where all labels to all goods are pure white, with blue writing telling you what they are (i.e. food, peaches, beer etc). No product placement here! Otto is fired for ‘not listening’ to his boss, Mr. Humphries and Kevin is fired too.

After he finds his punk girlfriend Debi sleeping with his recently out-of-jail best friend Duke (also a punk), Otto aimlessly wanders about LA until he is approached by Bud (Harry Dean Stanton), who wants him to take his wife’s car out of a ‘bad neighbourhood’ and offers him $25 to do it. When Otto takes the car, a man attacks him as he drives away.

After following Bud to an office (the Helping Hand Acceptance Corporation), it turns out that he is a repo man – someone who repossesses cars from people ‘who don’t pay their bills’ for a living. The man who attacked Otto hadn’t paid his bill.

Otto is determined not to be a repo man full time, but after he discovers that his parents have given away his ‘college fund’ to Reverend Larry, a TV evangelist, Otto lets Bud and another repo man, named Lite (Sy Richardson), train him up.

Meanwhile, J. Frank Parnell is driving around LA in his 64 Chevy, which has a repo price of $20,000 on it. This attracts the attention of the Helping Hand Acceptance Corp and its workers, and the local competition – two repo men brothers named Legarto and Napoleon Rodrigues.

While this is going on, Debi and Duke and another punk named Archie are committing armed robberies in the area. Otto meets a girl named Leila (Olivia Barash) who is convinced that there are rapidly decomposing alien remains in LA, and that the FBI are monitoring her to find out where they are. Leila works at the UFO – the United Fruitcake Outlet.

The dead aliens are in the back of J. Frank Parnell’s car – and now everyone is after it, not only the FBI and Leila (and her ‘weird friends’) for the aliens but also the repo men who want the $20,000.

Can everything turn out right in the end? Will Otto end up with his woman? Watch and see...

Verdict?

Full of social satire, wacky humour and plain dark observations on the American lifestyle of the 1980s, Repo Man is a true cult classic.

There are hundreds of memorable lines – practically the whole script is quotable – and the anarchic spirit neatly mirrors the punk ethic of the protagonists.

The soundtrack pumps the blood like a Dead Kennedys LP, the acting is fantastic and the way the film looks is astonishing. Robby Mullers camerawork is glowing, and certainly not afraid to show us the seedier side of LA.

Alex Cox has made patchy films in his time – Walker, for one, and Straight To Hell for another – but this stands up as a time and place and, dammit, an attitude unlike any other. Alex Cox, stand up and be counted. YOU'RE ALLLLL RIGHT!!!

Notice any mistakes? Review

Strengths: Fantastic camerawork; deadpan blacker-than-black humour; two terrific turns of acting from Estevez and Dean Stanton; an endlessly quotable script; great soundtrack.......

Weaknesses? Like most cult films, it's an acquired taste. The language is very strong for most of the film, and it takes more than one viewing to appreciate the depth of what's going on. Imagine the depth of 'Withnail & I' but in LA and with a satirical pop culture backdrop.

Our rating: 9.5 out of 10


Review Written by Jimmy Green:  Contact  |  More Reviews by Jimmy Green
Repo Man