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USA 1984
Directed by
Alex Cox
92 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Repo Man

Alex Cox’s first film is a cult classic, setting an off-beat story about UFOs and a 1964 Chevy in the outer-urban wastelands of Reagan-era of LA.

Otto (Emilio Estevez) is a suburban punk who, after losing his job in a supermarket, falls in with Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) and his repossession associates at the Helping Hand Acceptance Corp. Meanwhile the inventor of the neutron bomb, J. Frank Parnell (Fox Harris), is cruising around in the Chevy that he stole from the Los Alamos atomic facility and who is carrying something in the car-boot that vaporises anyone foolish enough to look in it. When a $20,000 bounty is posted for the car the repo men go after it, along with their rivals, the Rodriguez Brothers (Eddie Velez and Del Zamora).

A film literate director who at one time hosted his own cult film show in the UK, Cox who also wrote the film takes some leaves out of Jim Jarmusch's book of the cultishly hip (photography is by Jarmusch regular, Robby Mueller) and comes up with a grungy but well-made B grade tale full of off-beat characters, headed by Harry Dean Stanton and closely followed by Tracey Walter as the repo yard men, and peppering proceedings with amusing throwaway details such as a knitting security guard and an excellent punk soundtrack headed up by Iggy Pop’s title song.

Cox and his producers shopped the film around for a couple of years before one-time Monkee, Mike Nesmith, bank-rolled it. Although Cox has never done anything as good since, Repo Man ensures him a place in the Hall of Cult Fame. 

FYI: Otto’s friend, Kevin (Zander Schloss) was the inspiration for Napoleon Dynamite.

DVD Extras: A worthwhile suite of extras includes 'Up Close With Harry Dean Stanton' in which the crusty actor expounds his philosophy of life at length (21m); Repossessed, in which Cox and producers Jonathan Wacks and Peter McCarthy recall the film's history; 'The Missing Scenes', a compile of deleted footage with Cox and Sam Cohen, inventor of the neutron bomb, and J. Frank Parnell commenting on them; and, to wrap things up an audio commentary with Cox, Mike Nesmith, casting director Victoria Thomas, and cast members Sy Richardson, Zander Schloss and Del Zamora.

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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