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I grew up watching the fantastic BBC-TV programme 'Moviedrome', which was basically director Alex Cox introducing favourite films in his own quirky style including 'Something Wild','Carnival of Souls' & 'Django Kill!' I enjoyed Cox's own films, 'Sid and Nancy','Highway Patrolman' & the classic 'Walker' - but it's 'Repo Man' that remains my favourite work of his thus far...
The only film as odd as this to come out of a major Hollywood-studio was the same year's 'The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension'- which makes an ideal double-bill with this! 'Repo Man' is science-fiction, though science-fiction in a manner not unlike Jean-Luc Godard's 'Alphaville' (1965). As Godard's film used contemporary Paris as a future dystopia, so you get the feeling that Cox did the same to downtown-LA (the locale of its setting is often noted as an infleunce on 'Pulp Fiction', as well as Dennis Hopper's underrated 'Colors' & the charming 'Falling Down').
'Repo Man' offers an 80s-take on dystopia, a post-Reagonomic consumer-hell where dope-smoking baby-boomer parents are hypnotised by the TV, where nihilistic punks steal & where a strange man drives around with a neutron-bomb in the boot of his car, that the FBI are after as part of a wider UFO-conspiracy! Amid all this is Otto, your average punk-loser, who after his girlfriend cheats on him and he gets sacked from his supermarket job (note the way the products are labelled 'beer','london gin' etc- a conceit John Lydon nicked for PIL's 'Album' in 1986)- crossing paths with Bud (Harry Dean Stanton), who is a 'Repo Man'...
The film is an absolute trip from there, nodding to scientology, apocalypse, 'A Clockwork Orange'(the speeded-up sex scene in the car nods to another rapidly delivered sex scene in Kubrick's film), US-punk (The Circle Jerks appear as a band in a bar-scene), UFOs (pre-X-Files & Men in Black), 'Kiss Me Deadly' (the glowing mystery in the boot- another thing that turned up in 'Pulp Fiction'!)& William Burroughs (listen out in the hospital scene for a reference to Dr Benway, a major character from 'The Naked Lunch'!) There's also a great tunnel-shot that would recur in Jim Jarmusch's 'Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai'- probably as it shared the same cinematographer Robby Muller (most famous for his work with Wim Wenders).
There's not a film like 'Repo Man', which is charmingly odd and improves with every viewing like the aforementioned 'Buckaroo Banzai', Godard's 'Weekend', Rafelson's 'Head' & Linklater's 'Slacker.' It also belongs to an interesting breed of US-filmmaking - ironic, post-modern, alternative, and should be regarded alongside 'Suburbia','The Decline of Western Civilisation','Rumble Fish','Stranger Than Paradise','River's Edge','Out of the Blue' & 'Heathers'. Noy one for fans of the Brat Pack, though ironically the lead is best known for 'The Breakfast Club' & 'St Elmo's Fire' (what went wrong???)Look out for a cameo from former Monkee Mike Nesmith, who also produced it...
"I blame society..." !!!!!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 19 April 2015
Repo Man has become one of those films where even though it was savaged by many critics of the time (not Ebert, he loved it), was met with very poor box office as well, but now everyone seems to shout that they loved it back then, always have! It is the very definition of a "cult movie", a pic that went underground and found its audience, so much so it burst back above ground and today is still being discovered by an ever intrigued movie loving audience.

Repo Man was one of a kind, a film that refused to be pigeon holed, a true original. Story for what it's worth has Emilio Estevez as L.A. punk Otto Maddox who gets bluffed into a repo man job. Taken under the wing of Bud (Harry Dean Stanton), Otto gets to become a fully fledged repo man, taking on all the perks and dangers that come with the territory. But when a mysterious 1964 Chevy Malibu arrives on the patch, all bets seem to be off because everyone is either after it or being disintegrated by it!

The life of a repo man is always intense.

OK! Where to start? Offbeat, eccentric, punk, funky, funny, smart? Repo Man is all those things, it dares to be bold and challenging, its satirical edges slicing away at film genres and American societies. Director Alex Cox (how wonderful that such an American film is directed by a British guy) fills out this scuzzy part of L.A. with hippies, freaks, punks, aliens, scientist nutters, UFO nutters, effeminate coppers and the repo men themselves, a bunch of grizzled souls hardened by life's travails, but always with a quip, a smile and a gunshot at the ready.

The dialogue fizzes with cheeky derring-do, some lines even today still quotable and used in pubs and clubs across the continents. Robby Muller's cinematography has snap crackle and pop, as does the rocking soundtrack as Cox invites the likes of Iggy Pop, The Circle Jerks, Black Flag and The Plugz into his weird and wonderful world. Performances are bang on the dollar, Stanton the class act, Estevez superb, Tracey Walter proving what his fans already knew, that he's a legendary character actor.

From an opening involving a pair of smoking boots, to the glowing sci-fi nirvana finale, Repo Man kicks ass. One viewing is never enough, and for sure there are those who have seen it once and hate it to the point of refusing to ever watch it again. That's a shame, because repeat viewings are essential, because the more you watch the more Cox's deliriously cheeky movie makes sense. 9/10
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on 3 July 2003
A DVD version of this grossly underrated cult film is long overdue. I managed to get my hands on an advance copy last week & I've watched it four times since.
Anyone reading this review is probably a fan so I wont go into too much detail about what happens, but for those new to the film here is a rundown of the events: The story follows geeky no-hoper Otto, a disenfranchised teen punk in 1980's America who takes a job as a car repossessor because he's broke. He ends up on the trail of a Chevy Malibu along with a host of other irreverent & interesting characters, the very people who give this film it's deadpan humour.
The film is intended to reflect the feeling of loneliness and alienation that a whole generation of Americans suffered under the Reagan administration and it is a complete success. Director Alex Cox uses distant camerawork & large sets, along with bizzare country & Western style music to great effect.
Emilio Estevez is perfect for the role of Otto, he acts with a real flippancy that many actors would struggle with. He is completely believable as the obtrusive and uncaring repo man and he tackles the role with the neccessary lack of enthusiasm. It is Harry Dean Stanton though who steals the show as the bitter and strung out Bud, a time-seved Repo Man who takes Otto under his wing. The supporting cast also add to the experience and provide many a good gag.
The DVD extras are the reason that this doesnt get 5* here. I was dissappointed with what was on offer, but dont let that put you off what is a brilliant film experience.
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on 28 March 2002
...of course life as a Repo Man is always intense, from the cars, the dead aliens, punk rockers, scooter boys, secret agents...did I mention the woman with the metal hand? With Iggy Pop soundtrack to boot - this film should be in the vcr when the cops come knocking! Spot the magic trees, scan the kiss me deadly plot - look out for the director himself working in the auto-wash and remember - time machines are really UFO's.
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on 28 August 2000
Ever since I first saw this movies it's always been one of my favourites.
Full of laughs, bad suits, one-liners, punks and weirdness. Is it just a movie? I like to think of it more as a life mission statement.
In fact there is absolutely nothing that could be improved in this movie - its perfect. (It's also cheap so take the risk!)
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on 3 December 2013
Otto is working at the grocery when he loses his temper and quits. Befriended by a Repo Man, Otto sees vehicle repossession as a kind of modern buccaneering.

He is attracted by the adventure and the 'who gives a damn' attitude of the other Repo men.

At the same time a package is taken from a government lab that has strange effects on anyone who sees it.

It is hidden in a car which the government lists for repossession with a hefty reward.

The first thing you realise, is how wonderfully bonkers the whole film is. And if you don't like the opening scene with the iconic smoking boots, turn it off, because you'll hate the rest of the film.

Cox has never bettered this movie, and the movie is all about anarchy, heavily influenced by the punk scene in the UK during the late seventies and early eighties.

The first two acts are brilliant. Estevez exudes cool as Otto, and again, he's never been better in anything else. The support are just as bonkers, and it goes along nicely Leftfield, with subliminal images harking back to earlier narrative, and the whole generic food thing going on is all very sanitised.

And then the final act comes, and it loses its momentum ever so slightly, because it just gets too bizarre, and because of this it falters.

But all in all, its a wonderful study of suburbanites, waiting for something special to happen
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I used to enjoy BBC2's Moviedrome cult film offerings back in the late eighties which was hosted by the director Alex Cox, although the movies were not actually chosen by him. These films did pose the question "but what exactly is cult?". Cox himself comes into the cult bracket. He eschews Hollywood conventions and concentrates on the anarchic and eccentric elements of human nature. He works on a shoestring budget and his films sometimes have the look of a home movie. Now you can still do all this and make a poor film, but Cox to his credit seldom makes a truly bad film. When offered the chance to drink from Hollywood's moneyspinning poison chalice he sticks to his own absurdist visions.

This son of Liverpool now resident in the US brings all his offbeat talents to bear in his astonishing writer/directorial punk debut film "Repo Man"(1984). The film is pretty difficult to give a synopsis on. It has a surreal plot involving the CIA, aliens, some incompetent Mohican stick up guys and a motley crew of repossession men, ie legally sanctioned car thieves. Emilio Estevez is the young punk who is drawn into their circle by the lure of money. Things then get kinda weird and crazy, but even so there are a lot of savvy jokes at the expense of Ronald Reagan's America. Cox wears his heart on his sleeve and puts plenty of attitude into proceedings. The film which is full of foul mouthed tirades may not be everyones cup of tea, and there will be those who fail to see the joke, but then Cox is the sort of political director who will always divide audiences. Cox put together a very decent ensemble cast and got some fine performances out of Harry Dean Stanton, Estevez and Sy Richardson. The film also adds some nice oddball touches. Look at the branding of items like beer cans and the final credits to see what I mean! Cox even pays homage to his beloved spaghetti westerns in one scene where Stanton remarks in a shop "its too quiet", queue the Mohicans. Masters of Cinema have given this film a new lease of life, and deservedly so. Cox himself gives his usual idiosyncratic introduction to the film, something he has done for other DVD's over the years. This is the sort of offering that appeals to wannabe film buffs like me.
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on 26 February 2012
Been a fan of this film for many years, having been into the West Coast punk scene many years ago (more sophisticated tastes these days!).

Had a problem initially with the audio, in that inserted disc into BD player (Sony BDP-S780) and audio would only output in front right speaker, with no speech. Tried on a Sony PS3 and Pioneer BDP-320 and exactly the same results. Eventually figured that unlike all the other BD discs I have, you have to change the settings on the BD players to output audio to PCM only.

Very strange, but at least I can now view the disc and hopefully this is of help to anyone with similar problems.
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There's no doubt that this film is worthy of cult status, and to many this is one of those all-time-classics. For me though, it's a good film, but doesn't quite hit the mark as a great film.

Some elements of the film are beautifully done; the generic packaging of food products, the bleak urban feel, and the seemingly apathy to violence and death make for a great dystopian atmosphere. This means that although the film is filmed/set in the 1980's, it has a futuristic look to it, almost like Mad Max.

The dystopia is developed further as the main characters have little or no ambition, whenever someone discusses what they want from life it's never anything more than committing crime or becoming a `fry chef' in a fast food place. The masses are pacified by television, brainwashed into giving money to the TV Evangelists. The radiation affected Parnell launches into an insane tirade, during which he mentions a friend who worked on the neutron bomb and how working on something so immoral can drive a man insane. This is dark, it's also a prod in the morals.

Other than Otto and Bud, the characters seem pretty two-dimensional, but they are entertaining. At one point there's a good camaraderie between the two, but the pathos seems to get lost somewhere and by the end of the film I cared little for any of the characters.

In a nutshell: Well worthy of a watch - you'll either love this film or you'll feel pretty neutral to it. I'm in the latter camp. There are some fantastic ideas, and these are often implemented in an understated way so as not to seem gimmicky or obvious. I appreciated what is being said, and I tend to agree, but I think it could have been said better.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 November 2011
I likened Repo Man to Mad Max, before I'd got the DVD, having seen it on TV years ago. "Coen bros. on acid", a friend commented.

It's so darned cool at times, the knowing, tongue-in-cheek mocking at consumerism and even road movies themselves, Repo Man oozes unsubtleties and the oft over-dramatic stoner sort of acting that just looks oafish and crass these days lift this late-night flick up to cult status.

I've enjoyed Alex Cox's wayward slant on the world for a long while and I want to see more and get more on DVD. Sid & Nancy is brilliantly hard-hitting, its no-holds barred attitude no doubt inviting the likes of Trainspotting. Mr Cox is so deliciously on the edge of mainstream cinema, you can almost smell his rawness and anger at that very fact. He doesn't belittle or bend to Hollywood norm to gain that, either. Almost unique, I'd say. He has also directed pop videos, the best I've seen is for The Levellers, more a pop-film, with a Dystopian "The Wall" sort of political rising, set on the wind-swept, deserted streets of Liverpool, that could only be, in the case of this band, absolutely political.

I'm a bit iffy about the whole sci-fi element in Repo Man, though. If I were also watching Twin Peaks then it might mean more, but as it is, is a bit clunky and distracting. Which may have been its intention, of course!
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