#ThrowbackThursday: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s “Repo Man” (1984)

From the REPO MAN (1984) title sequence

From the REPO MAN (1984) title sequence (image via Art of the Title)

Review summary: Repo men (and women), aliens, lobotomized scientists, government agents, suburban punks, generic products, Iggy Pop, Emilio Estevez, Harry Dean Stanton — what’s not to like?

Yesterday I wrote about a potential new cult movie classic by Paul Sampson. Today (a Throwback Thursday) I turn to a definite cult favorite from the 80’s, Repo Man.

REPO MAN (1984) movie poster

REPO MAN (1984) movie poster (image via Mestadelsbilder’s Blog)

Produced by: Peter McCarthy and Jonathan Wacks

Directed by: Alex Cox

Written by: Alex Cox

Starring:

Emilio Estevez as Otto

Harry Dean Stanton as Bud

Tracey Walter as Miller

Olivia Barash as Leila

Sy Richardson as Lite

Plot Summary: A lobotomized government scientist makes his way down Route 66, from Los Alamos to Los Angeles, with a glowing cargo of dangerously radioactive alien corpses in the trunk of his 1964 Chevy Malibu. He is pursued by hazmat suit-clad government agents, led by Agent Rogersz (Susan Barnes), who are intent on relieving him of the car and its cargo. Meanwhile, Otto (Estevez), a “suburban punk,” loses his job as a grocery clerk, but shortly thereafter is tricked by Bud (Stanton) into helping him repossess a car from its owner, who is behind on the payments. As a punk, Otto despises “repo men” and refuses an offer of employent. When he learns that his parents have donated his college fund to a televangelist, however, Otto decides to become a repo man himself, learning the ropes from Bud and Lite (Richardson) [N.B., all of the repo men are named after beer brands. However, all of the beer and food in the movie is generic.]. After repo-ing a luxury car from a millionaire, he meets Leila (Barash), a young UFO conspiracy theorist who is searching for the dead aliens. A $20,000 offer for the recovery of the Malibu causes all of the repo men (including Bud’s arch enemies, the Rodriguez brothers — Lagarto [Del Zamora] and Napo [Eddie Velez]) to join the hunt. In the end, only Miller (Walter), a spacey mechanic who works with Otto at the Helping Hand Acceptance Corporation, seems to understand the true significance of the car and its contents.

Commentary: How do you critique a classic? This one has it all: a twisted, surrealistic story line with multiple subplots that come together at the end. Memorable characters played by excellent actors. Snappy, hilarious dialogue. A satire of everything that was wrong about the early 80’s (and a celebration of everything that was right). A theme song by Iggy Pop. Technical innovations — a Google Maps-like title sequence thirteen years before Google.com was registered as a domain, credits that run backwards.

The bottom line: What, you haven’t seen Repo Man yet? “Don’t care how long it takes, dildos! Repo Man’s got all night, every night.”

Frisco Kid’s rating: review-5-5-stars

Film Facts (from IMDB):

  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Runtime: 92 minutes
  • Color: Color
  • Sound: Mono
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1