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Universal Studios Home Video presents
Repo Man: Collector's Edition (1984)

"The more you drive, the less intelligent you are."
- Miller (Tracey Walter)

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: January 29, 2006

Stars: Harry Dean Stanton, Emilio Estevez
Other Stars: Olivia Barash, Tracey Walter, Sy Richardson, Susan Barnes, Del Zamora, Fox Harris, Zander Schloss, Vonetta McGee
Director: Alex Cox

MPAA Rating: R for (language, drug use, violence, gore)
Run Time: 01h:32m:04s
Release Date: January 24, 2006
UPC: 025192851025
Genre: cult

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A AA-B+ A-

DVD Review

There are only a handful of movies that successfully capture the punk atmosphere of the early 1980s, and two of them were written and directed by Alex Cox. The first of these, Repo Man, is a dark sci-fi comedy that holds up extremely well thanks to its warped sensibility and goofy attitudes. It's not nearly as dark as Sid and Nancy (1986), and the terrific cast and marvelous soundtrack keep viewer interest even when things become more than a little puzzling.

Otto (Emilio Estevez) is a disaffected youth who has had it with a dead-end job and his religion-mesmerized parents. That leaves him vulnerable to the influences of Bud (Harry Dean Stanton), a coarse philosopher who makes his living repossessing cars. Otto quickly warms to Bud and his sometimes deceptive outside-the-law antics, and starts to learn the repo man trade. A particularly big score comes with an alert for a 1964 Chevy Malibu, which unbeknownst to him carries a trunkful of dead aliens smuggled out of Roswell and Los Alamos. Along the way, government agents, vicious punks and people who don't appreciate repo men get in the way of Otto and Bud's dream.

Although some of the targets are a bit easy (over-the-top generic food packaging and televangelists, among the more obvious ones), the humor is solid throughout and bears repeated viewings to catch everything. The characters have some subtly humorous aspects that deliver solid laughs even on the seventh or eighth time through. Among the best bits are the random and bizarre bits of Zen wisdom from brain-addled mechanic Miller (Tracey Walter), who deadpans his way through increasingly bizarre monologues, displaying odd quirks that make what could be a cardboard character into a surprisingly well-rounded one. Along the same lines are Stanton's rambling monologues about the Repo Man Code, none of which he seems to pay any attention to himself.

Stanton gets one of his best roles ever here as Bud, tired and beaten down but still perversely hopeful about getting his own repo shop. His intensity is perfect for the part, and his delivery renders practically every single line quotable. Estevez makes for an appealing lead, displaying good comic timing and a naturally ticked-off air that fits the character perfectly. Also notable is Zander Schloss as Otto's geeky friend Kevin, a clear template for Napoleon Dynamite. Blaxploitation star Vonetta McGee is also memorable as the receptionist for the repo agency. Olivia Barash is Otto's off-kilter love interest Leila, a flying saucer buff that helps get him sucked into various conspiracies from Roswell to the Men in Black.

The language is persistently foul throughout, making it a shame that the legendary audio track for the television version wasn't included, with its bizarre references to "flippin'" and of course "melon farmers." Even so, the film is a classic not least of all for its amazing soundtrack with the main theme by Iggy Pop and songs (and live performances) by such notables as The Circle Jerks, Suicidal Tendencies, and Black Flag. It's sometimes intensely political, but it's sardonically funny from start to finish. Very highly recommended.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen picture looks decent, considering the film's low budget. There's quite a lot of graininess, but detail is decent. Shadow detail is sometimes plugged up a bit, and aliasing is occasionally visible. It's quite attractive overall, however.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Both the original 2.0 and a 5.1 remix are included. Both are quite clean and have nice presence and range. The 5.1 track features good, solid bass, as it should. The songs are nice and vibrant and the dialogue is clear throughout.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Brick, The Big Lebowski
8 Deleted Scenes
2 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Alex Cox, executive producer Michael Nesmith, casting director Victoria Thomas, actors Sy Richardson, Zander Schloss and Del Zamora
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 01h:09m:48s

Extras Review: The commentary from the original Anchor Bay DVD is carried over here, supplemented by two new documentaries. The first of these is a discussion (21m:20s) with Harry Dean Stanton, in a surprisingly confrontational chat that ranges from Zen to nihilism. The second features Cox and the producers as they relate numerous anecdotes about the film and its genesis, very little of which is duplicated in the commentary. There's a 25-minute set of deleted scenes, commented upon by Cox and Sam Cohen, the developer of the neutron bomb (played in the film by Fox Harris). These are mostly dispensable but there are some good character bits that fans of the film will be interested in seeing. Some of them are from the television cut, with the language altered accordingly, and none of them look anywhere near as good as the feature. All of the extras are presented in nonanamorphic widescreen, for some inexplicable reason, other than the full-frame trailer, which drops the grade a notch from what it would be otherwise.

Extras Grade: A-


Final Comments

One of the great films of the 1980s, presented in a loaded special edition. The life of a repo man is intense, and so is this disc.


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