...It's 4 A.M., do you know where your car is?
Universal Studios/1984/R/93 Minutes
Repo Man was written and directed by Alex Cox, it was his first feature length film. Fresh out of UCLA's film school he got a job as Repo Man which, along with his interest in punk culture, provided the inspiration for this movie. He Discovered that two of his friends from school had just started a production company called Edge City Productions and he suggested that they hire him as a director, he was hired on the condition that he come up with a script; Repo Man was his second submission to Edge City, his first, called 'the hot club', was based on William Burroughs' short story 'Exterminator'. This movie is full of twisted oddities that make it really fun to watch.
Repo Man features a '64 Chevy Malibu that belongs to a lobotomized scientist from a government research facility who has stolen some alien corpses. The corpses are in the trunk of the Malibu. The Malibu has a bounty of $20,000.00 put on it by the government in an effort to recover the aliens. Anyone who looks in the trunk is instantly disintegrated.
Otto Maddox, played by Emilio Estevez, is the main character, He is a punk kid that doesn't want to be stuck working shit jobs when he is old. He starts out the movie working at a grocery store with his friend Kevin. He quits that job and becomes alienated from his friends. While walking down a back alley he is confronted by Bud who asks him to help move a car claiming that it belongs to his wife who is going into labor. Otto moves the car and then discovers that he has just Repossessed his first vehicle. He is offered a job by the group of repo men that Bud works for, the helping hands acceptance corp.; he turns down their offer but returns when he finds out that his parents, who spend all of their time in front of the television watching a televangelist, sent all of their money to Reverend Larry so he could send bibles to El Salvador. Otto becomes enamored with the life of a repo man -- the danger, the flashy cars, the clothes.
Zander Schloss plays Kevin, Otto's nerdy friend. Kevin works with Otto at the grocery store and is fired when Otto quits his job in the beginning of the movie.
Leila is the romantic interest. Otto picks her up while she is running from some agents and he is driving a repoed convertable Cadillac Eldorado. She works at the United Fruitcake Outlet (U.F.O.) which is a front for an underground alien spotting organization. She is played by Olivia Barash
Bud is Otto's repo mentor. Bud is played by Harry Dean Stanton, he was originally intended to be played by Dennis Hopper but Hopper didn't believe that the movie would get the necessary funding so he rejected the project. He is a strung out washed up old man who has spent his whole life repoing cars. He sees the reward on the Malibu as a chance to go on his own and so he competes with Otto to find it first.
Miller, played by Tracey Walter, cleans out the cars at the repo lot. His character gives strange philosophical advice to Otto throughout the movie. He references Jung's collective unconscious at one point.
Sy Richardson plays Lite who is Otto's other repo mentor. He is sort of a 'bad motherfucker' archetype.
J. Frank Parnell is the driver of the Malibu. He was the inventor of the neutron bomb. He refers to himself in the third person "I had a friend who had a lobotomy once". He is attempting to deliver the car to Leila at the United Fruitcake Outlet when he slowly dies of radiation poisoning. He is played by Fox Harris.
Debbie, Duke and Archie are the members of the gang of punks that Otto becomes alienated from at the beginning of the movie. Played by Jennifer Balgobin, Dick Rude, and Miguel Sandoval respectively, they appear throughout the movie. At one point they steal the malibu, the trunk of the malibu kills Archie and then Debbi and Duke go off to "Do some crimes" (Get Sushi and not pay).
The Rodriguez brothers, Lagarto and Napoleon played by Del Zamora and Eddie Velez respectively are the arch rivals of the helping hands acceptance company. They are hired by the secretary at helping hands to find the car first and give it to her so that she can collect the reward and share it with them.
- All purchasable items are labeled generically: "Food", "Beer", etc. This came about after the producers failed to attract any offers of payment for product placement.
- All cars (plus the police motorcycle) have Christmas tree air fresheners.
- All of the cars in the movie use the opposite turn signal to the direction they go.
- The Repo Man's code is a parody of Isaac Asimov's "Laws of Robotics". The man who drives the Malibu resembles Asimov.
- Allusions to William S. Burroughs' novel "Naked Lunch": "Paging Dr Benway" in the hospital and mentioning Bill Lee.
- Kevin sings the jingle for 7-Up at the supermarket just before Mr. Humphries fires them. Later at Mr. Humphries' house Kevin can be seen in the background adjusting a TV set that's playing a 7-Up commercial.
- Bud gives an irate car owner a business card and tells him to call his boss "I.G. Farbin", a reference to Farben, the German company that produced poison gas during World War II.
- Miller talks about the cosmic unconsciousness: "You'll be thinking about a plate of shrimp, and all of a sudden someone will say plate, or shrimp, or plate of shrimp." Later, the Rodriguez Brothers park the Malibu outside a diner which features a huge sign in one of its windows reading: PLATE O' SHRIMP $2.95.
- Lite gives Otto a book called 'Dioretix' this is a reference to L. Ron Hubbard's 'Dianetics'.
- The movie was made by Edge City Productions - edge city is a recurring theme in Tom Wolfe's 'Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. The destination placard on the bus that Otto takes back to his parents' house reads "Edge City".
- The photo of aliens carried by Leila, which shows up on the cover of the tabloid, appears to be a close shot of a plate of shrimp.
- Producer Michael Nesmith can be seen briefly on TV in the repo office in an ad for "Art Remnants," a segment from his movie Elephant Parts.
- Zander Schloss, who plays Kevin the Nerd, ended up joining The Circle Jerks after production ended. They play on the soundtrack and appear in the movie during the lounge scene.
- On the DVD there is an easter egg that is found by going to 'Talent Bios' in the 'Extras' menu and pressing up, a light will appear on the dashboard of the malibu select and enjoy.
The soundtrack to Repo Man was heavily influenced by Alex Cox's love for punk rock and is one of my favorite CDs ever.
Iggy Pop - Repo Man
black Flag - TV Party
Suicidal Tendencies - Institution
The Circle Jerks - Coup D'Etat
The Plugz - El Clavo Y La Cruz
The Burning Sensations - Pablo Picasso
Fear - Let's Have A War
The Circle Jerks - When The Shit Hits The Fan
The Plugz - Hombre Secreto (Secret Agent Man)
The Juicy Bananas - Bad Man
The Plugz - Reel Ten
The Theme Song
By Iggy Pop
I was riding on a concrete slab,
Down a river of useless flab.
It was such a beautiful day.
I heard a witchdoctor say,
"I'll turn you into a toadstool"
I'm looking for the joke with a microscope.
My muscle's twitching on your words.
If you're on the streets you lose your nerves.
Divinity throws you a curve.
Sticks you and then you go beserk.
Abhoaring no inspiration.
I'm looking for the joke with a microscope.
Page out of a comic book.
A chicken hanging on a hook.
A river and a babbling brook.
A sermon and a teenage hook.
Shaking my hand at your fake face.
A suicide a certain look.
A microphone a loose guitar.
People feeling near and far.
Stupidity a mental scar.
Put cruel into cruelty.
As life goes by you in a blurr.
An achoholic has gone far.
Everything just goes to far.
I was pissing on the desert sands,
When the desert whispered to me,
"Damn! Isn't this a shame?
Things will never be the same..."
I run this gas and oasis.
Now I'm looking for the joke with a microscope.
I was a teenage dinosaur; Stoned and Obsolete.
I didn't get fucked and I didn't get kissed.
I got so fucking dense.
Using my head for an ashtray.
Now I'll tell you who I am.
I'm the Repo-Man.
And I'm looking for the joke.
Looking for the joke.
I'm Looking for the joke with a microscope