Repo Man (1984) – Alex Cox

Odd. Awesome. Punk. And oh-so-quotable.

This entry on the 101 Sci-Fi Movies list was my first introduction to the punk when I was growing up. I remember watching this one with my friend Sean, his family always seemed to be more willing to rent the odd, kind of fringe movies that my parents would never allow me to entertain… until I started paying for them myself.

Emilio Estevez is Otto, a disillusioned punker, who has worked a series of dead-end jobs, his latest in a supermarket until he stumbles into the profession of repossessing cars. Working with an odd collection of fellows, including the always enjoyable Tracey Walter and Harry Dean Stanton.

Interweaving with this story, like a drunken driver swerving between lanes, is the story of J. Frank Parnell (Fox Harris), who is driving around with something very odd in his trunk, and is trying to get in touch with some UFO enthusiasts, including Leila (Olivia Barash), who promise to make the car’s contents a front page story.

repo-man-1984That is if the government forces, led by the metal-handed Agent Rogersz (Susan Barnes), don’t get a hold of it first.

But there’s also Otto’s old friends, who always seem to be just ahead of Otto, literally, robbing the locations he’s about to arrive at. But despite their bad-assery for crime, like eating sushi and not paying for it, apparently even they just want to settle down into a relationship…

Weird right?

And a lot of fun!

repo-man_lThe dialogue walks the line from camp to cheesey to just plain awesome. “An ordinary person spends his life avoiding tense situations. A repo man spends his life getting into tense situations.” (I clapped the first time that line showed up in Twister!).

Filled with punk music, and diverting little adventures as Otto and his fellows professionally heist cars. The stories are hilarious, quirky and enjoyable.

And there always seem to be gentlemen in hazmat suits wandering through the town, fixing their van, picking up dead bodies mistaken for bums, or burning evidence up.

There’s not a lot of sense to the story, and no explanation is truly given for the destructive force that is in the car’s boot, but that’s part of the appeal. Are they the ‘aliens’ that look like sausages that end up on the front page of a tabloid rag that Otto is reading? Is it something else?

repo_man_malibu_small1No one really knows, and that’s not the point.

This is one of those films that is meant to be watched, enjoyed, laughed at and with, and if you get it, you walk away feeling like you’re a member of the exclusive club of people who love this film.

I’ve seen this one countless times now, and it always surprises me how much I enjoy it when I throw it on. It’s like I forget just how awesome it is, until Iggy Pop’s theme music kicks in over the credits, and I say to myself, “Oh yeah.”

I think I may need to add this one to the blu-ray collection in the near future…

What did you think of it?


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