Repo Man is a perfect example of a cult movie. It’s wildly uneven and while it may not be quite up your alley, you can see why people love it so much. It’s definitely the best punk rockers meet aliens movie ever made.
Emilio Estevez stars as Otto, a teenage punk who gets a job repossessing cars. Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) is the seen-it-all repo man who shows Otto the ropes. When they get wind that there’s a Chevy Malibu driving around town worth $20,000, they try to get their hands on it. Little do they know that the car is carrying a trunkload of radioactive alien carcasses.
The second half of the movie is kinda patchy and the ending, although sublimely batshit insane just does not work, but that’s okay because Repo Man features enough random weirdness in it’s 92 minute running time to fill up three movies. What would you expect from a movie produced by Michael Nesmith? (At least he’s doing something productive with all of that Monkees money.)
Estevez is pretty good in an early leading role, but it’s Stanton who steals the movie as the grizzled, cynical Bud. While the film is crammed with too many annoying side characters, it’s Stanton who always seems to perk things up whenever he’s on the screen.
Director Alex Cox peppers the flick with a lot of memorable imagery. The opening scene is pretty awesome and I especially loved the generic food labels that occasionally fill the frame. Cox (who later went on to direct Sid and Nancy) also has a keen eye for the sights and sounds of the West Coast punk scene (something that was never properly documented) and as a result, the soundtrack is great. Besides the excellent theme song by Iggy Pop, we also get to see The Circle Jerks perform and hear several other classic punk songs during the course of the movie (my favorites include the Suicidal Tendencies’ “Intuitionalized” and the Burning Sensations’ “Pablo Picasso”).
Best line: “You know how everybody’s into weirdness right now?”