Repo Man is supposedly some kind of a cult classic from the 1980's, so it's probably kind of surprising that I've never actually seen it. True, I was only 9 years old when it was released, but then again I've watched a ton of 80's movies on television all throughout my teenage years. But now, by some fateful luck of the cosmos, I've finally been able to see this film. And not even on television, but on a collector's edition DVD no less! And now I do believe I understand why it has become a cult classic... because it's one weird little movie.
It starts off with a brown 1964 Chevy Malibu cruising down a long desolate two-lane highway just before dusk. It's driven by a strange man, a man in sunglasses that are missing the left lens who is singing "Clementine" while constantly and inadvertently swerving between the two lanes. When a motorcycle cop pulls him over and asks what's in the trunk, all this guy says "oohhh, you don't wanna look in there". And as it turns out, the guy was right. Upon opening the trunk and spying what was inside, the cop instantly regretted what he had done. Unfortunately, it was just too late for regrets... and so the strange man in the brown 1964 Chevy Malibu pulled away and continued on down the dusty road.
Next it's time to meet our main character, Otto. He currently works as a stock-boy in a store, which we see for all of about 10 seconds, at which point he gets fed up with it all and walks out. Well, at least he still has his girlfriend... for all of about 10 seconds. Yeah, after that night at a party, his girlfriend breaks up with him... by making out with some other guy after she sent him out of the room to get her a beer. Well, at least he's still going to get the $1,000 to go to Europe that his parents promised him for when he finished school... or he would, had they not given all away to a televangelist in order to bring bibles to El Salvador. Okay, so all of you just remember this when you start thinking about how you've had a bad day.
Anyway, having no where else to turn, Otto heads back to the repo office where he found himself earlier in the day after being tricked into repossessing a car by Bud, a grizzled repo-man. And so begins his new career as a repo-man, and what an adventure it turns out to be! All goes as you might expect, with several funny situations as Otto learns the ropes, but what makes this film unique is the weird subplots going on. Remember that brown 1964 Chevy Malibu I mentioned at the beginning? Well, it happens to have a $25,000 repossession bounty on it. Plus, some men-in-black type people led by a woman with a metal hand will do anything to recover it. Why? Well, if you believe Otto's new girlfriend, UFO nut Leila, it's because there are aliens in the trunk. Oh yeah, and there's also a rival repo-agency after it as well.
So, starting to get the idea? Yeah, and that's not even everything! There's also Otto's old pals, who have turned to a life of crime, and end up stealing the vehicle for a getaway, completely unaware that everybody is after it. Then, of course, there's the lot attendant for the Helping Hand Acceptance Corporation, the repo agency where Otto works. He believes that UFO's are not only real, but are actually time machines. And if all that isn't odd enough for ya, then just wait 'till you get to the end. I must say, I completely wasn't expecting that. And really, I was actually disappointed in it. It really felt like the whole movie was leading somewhere, and then just all of a sudden took a hard U-Turn and disregarded everything that had been set up.
The good thing about having the Collector's Edition DVD is that I found out I was right! There was originally a different ending which fit, but then they decided to go with this alternated ending. Too bad, as I think I would have liked the original ending much more. So this DVD release has four extra features. One is good, one is okay, and the other two are just plain boring. The good one is the commentary, which includes the writer/director Alex Cox, the executive producer Michael Nesmith, the casting director Victoria Thomas, and three of the actors, Sy Richardson, Zander Schloss, and Del Zamora. This was a blast to listen to, and usually when you have that many people doing a commentary together it's hard for them not to be interesting.
The extra feature that was just okay was the deleted scenes. Some were kind of funny, while others were just plain and boring. And speaking of boring, that brings me to the remaining two special features, a 25 minute long talk with Harry Dean Stanton, and a 25 minute long talk between producers Jonathan Wacks and Peter McCarthy and writer/director Alex Cox. There really isn't very much interesting inside information here, and Harry Dean Stanton just seems to be going insane or something. But anyway, the bonus material is decent enough for fans of this cult classic, and I can easily see why it's a cult classic. It was enjoyable enough to watch, but it won't be making my top 100 films anytime soon.
Repo Man (Collector's Edition) was released by Universal Studios Home Video on DVD starting January 24, 2006. It stars Emilio Estevez as Otto Maddox, Harry Dean Stanton as Bud, Sy Richardson as Lite, and Tracey Walter as Miller.