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Anchor Bay presents
Repo Man (1984)

"Suppose you're thinking about a plate of shrimp. Suddenly, somebody'll say, like,plate, or shrimp, or plate of shrimp, out of the blue...no explanation. No point inlookin' for one either. It's all part of the cosmic unconsciousness."
- Miller (Tracey Walter)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: August 14, 2000

Stars: Emilio Estevez, Harry Dean Stanton
Other Stars: Tracey Walter, Sy Richardson, Del Zamora, Fox Harris
Director: Alex Cox

Manufacturer: Grace & Wild Interactive Development
MPAA Rating: R for (mild violence, language)
Run Time: 01h:32m:00s
Release Date: August 22, 2000
UPC: 013131122992
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A AA+A- A-

DVD Review

Allow me to start off with a short dedication of this review to the memory of my brother, who passed away recently. For awhile, prior to his death, he worked as a repo man. Was his life as "intense" as the guys' in Alex Cox's bizarre epic Repo Man? Well probably not, thanks to little things nowadays called "laws," but imagine for a second that your world is based around punk rock, space aliens, repossessing cars, and generic beer. Then, and only then, will you understand the cosmic unconsciousness of everything.

In Repo Man, Emilio Estevez plays Otto, a disenchanted Los Angeles kid who quits his job at a supermarket. He meets Bud (Harry Dean Stanton), who he quickly discovers is a car repossessor. Without much thought behind it, Otto becomes absorbed into a collective of various weirdos whose lives revolve around the repo lifestyle. At the same time, a Chevy Malibu is making its way through L.A., supposedly with alien corpses in the trunk. Dark agents of the government want the car, so its worth on the repo market makes it a treasure of a find. That is, if anyone can successfully locate the car.

Though I've described Repo Man as if it had a plot, it really doesn't. While there are threads of story that carry the action along, for the most part the film is a non-linear event where the unusual and strange take control. As far as "nonsense" films go, this is one of the grand masterpieces of them all. I don't think the film is quite as amazing as a lot of its cult hype implies, but I do think the film is a superbly crafted, subtle comedy. Beyond the obviously silly storyline, the film has many strange features that cannot be absorbed in just one viewing. This alone makes Repo Man stand out from similar, aimless comedies. The great dialogue has also helped make the film so enduring. Every character has at least one quotable line, especially film great Tracey Walter, who excels at portraying weird characters. Cox and crew also supervised the cut television version, with added-in ridiculous terms and rewrites to replace bad language (like "melon farmer.")

Casting does a lot to make this movie enjoyable. Emilio Estevez' early role as this punk outcast is pivotal to most of the movie. Harry Dean Stanton is perfect as the fanatical repo man who believes in the job as some sort of modern day knighthood. Alex Cox cast regulars Sy Richardson, Del Zamora, and the late Fox Harris round out the cast nicely. The movie holds much in common with other early 80's punk-era films (Suburbia comes to mind) but it comes across as a very original piece of work, and it's certainly one of the funniest of the age.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Flawless would be a good way to describe Anchor Bay's new transfer of Repo Man. The anamorphic image is incredibly detailed with extremely good color balance and clarity. There are no artifacts or digital errors, and black level is accurate and sharp. Although the original print looks a tad bit grainy in a few scenes, it's still an excellent source print and brings the film into new glory. The 1:85:1 aspect ratio adds good composition to the image, and also marks the first time Repo Man has been widely available in widescreen.

Image Transfer Grade: A+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The new Dolby 5.1 sound mix is excellent. Though it is a bit front-channel heavy, the movie isn't action-oriented enough for a lot of directionality. There is some good imaging, and the surrounds are used for a variety of ambient effects. The music in the movie (one of the great soundtracks of the 80's) gets a remastering as well, with good bass added to the LFE channel. Dialogue has great clarity and is well balanced with the rest of the on-screen action.

The 2.0 track is very good quality, but lacks a lot of the surround action and general kick of the 5.1. Still, it's a good mix for those with Pro-Logic systems.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 TV Spots/Teasers
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Alex Cox, Michael Nesmith, Victoria Thomas, Del Zamora, Sy Richardson, Zander Schloss
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. THX Optimode Tests
Extras Review: The feature most Repo Man fans will love on this disc is the amazing, new commentary track. The track features director Alex Cox, casting director Victoria Thomas, producer Michael Nesmith (yes, of The Monkees), and actors Del Zamora, Sy Richardson, and Zander Schloss (who was also a member of the band Circle Jerks who appear in the film.) All of these individuals are on the SAME track, recorded live as a group. The result is a wonderful, humorous, dynamic commentary that is without question one of the best I've ever heard. I would like to point out, however, for those of you new to Repo Man, that the commentary points out a lot of the subtleties and hidden meanings in the film. Discovering these yourself is one of the great pleasures of the movie, so avoid the track if you're still enjoying the bizarre layers of the movie.

Being THX certified, the disc also features the new THX Optimode calibration feature. This allows you to perform certain calibrations on your home theatre system. According to THX, these Optimode tests are specifically designed for the films they accompany, so that way your system is calibrated for that specific film.

The extras are rounded out with the original theatrical trailer and some decent bios of members of the cast and crew. In a nice touch, the packaging is entirely based around the original artwork for the film.

Extras Grade: A-


Final Comments

I'd have to say that Repo Man is a must see. Not everyone will like it, but like most "cult" films, it achieves a certain inescapable charm. Its complete, laugh-out-loud ridiculousness and its elevation of a mundane profession are the stuff of which great movies are made. Highly Recommended...and remember, the life of a repo man is ALWAYS intense.


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