A volatile, toxic potion of satire and nihilism, road movie and science fiction, violence and comedy, the unclassifiable sensibility of Alex Cox’s Repo Man is the model and inspiration for a potent strain of post-punk American comedy that includes not only Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), but also early Coen brothers (Raising Arizona, in particular), Men in Black, and even (in a weird way) The X-Files. Otto, a baby-face punk played by Emilio Estevez, becomes an apprentice to Bud (Harry Dean Stanton), a coke-snorting, veteran repo-man-of-honor prowling the streets of a Los Angeles wasteland populated by hoods, wackos, burnouts, conspiracy theorists, and aliens of every stripe. It may seem chaotic at first glance, but there’s a “latticework of coincidence” (as Tracey Walter puts it) underlying everything. Repo Man is a key American movie of the 1980s—just as Taxi Driver, Nashville, and Chinatown are key American movies of the ’70s. With a scorching soundtrack that features Iggy Pop, Fear, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, and Suicidal Tendencies. —Jim Emerson
English director Alex Cox studied law at Oxford—at least until being deflected into theatre through his participation in the University’s drama department. Cox switched to a film studies program at University of Bristol, received a Fulbright scholarship, then traveled to the United States to attend the UCLA film school. His plans to become the next Welles or Scorsese were muddied by several years’ inactivity, during which time he took a job repossessing automobiles. Drawing from the experience, Cox made his feature-film directorial bow with the wildly inconsistent but very entertaining Repo Man (1984), which served as one of the first starring assignments of Emilio Estevez. Repo Man’s musical score was drenched in punk-rock, a symbolic form of violent rebellion explored further in Cox’s Sid and Nancy (1987), a fascinating if depressing chronicle of the life and death of “punk” musician Sid Vicious and groupie Nancy Spungen. Critically celebrated for both films, Cox’s reputation declined… read more
I heard a description of Repo Man which was something to the effect of a punk rock sci-fi film that took place at Ronald Reagan's house. I can't say I disagree with this. Repo Man at times feels like a bunch of entertaining and off-the-wall parts more than a great story but there's a great soundtrack and enough great lines to help you get past it. Great, great stuff.