Repo Man

Movie Information

Walk-In Theater will present Repo Man Friday, June 13, starting at dusk in the parking lot behind the Bledsoe Building in West Asheville. Sponsored by the merchants of the Bledsoe Building. Admission is free. And as usual, patrons are asked to leave pets and coolers at home, but to bring lawn chairs.
Genre: New Wave/Punk Sci-Fi Comedy
Director: Alex Cox (Sid and Nancy)
Starring: Harry Dean Stanton, Emilio Estevez, Tracey Walter, Olivia Barash, Susan Barnes
Rated: R

Back in 1984 when Alex Cox’s Repo Man was released, it was just about the coolest thing going. Of course, back in 1984, Alex Cox was a cool young filmmaker, Emilio Estevez was a cool young actor, and Harry Dean Stanton was just plain cool. Of those statements, the only one that is still completely valid is the last. Looked at today, Repo Man has lost a little of its luster. Most of the shock value is gone, and some of it feels like it’s trying too hard. The latter is excusable, because the film found itself faced with taking on the age of Reagan, new wave and punk rock, televangelists, aging hippies, Scientology (called “Dioretix” in the film), generic products, the new nihilism, the Weekly World News … you name it. That’s a heady combination. If it sometimes feels a little like warmed-over John Waters, it’s still a pretty audacious work. Any movie containing a Spanish version “Secret Agent Man” gets bonus points.

With its deliberately cheesy special effects and its meandering (but ultimately very connected) story line, Repo Man set out not merely to transgress on every imaginable topic, but to make fun of some of the very culture that spawned it. Sure, connecting space aliens, the government and evangelical Christianity was a wild poke at conservative values, but it’d be hard to say that the whole new wave and punk scene comes off much better. Perhaps the whole attitude is best summed up when Harry Dean Stanton is relieved to find out that Estevez isn’t a “commie,” because he doesn’t want any “commies” riding in his car. He thinks about it for a second and adds that he doesn’t want any Christians either. It’s that kind of movie.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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3 thoughts on “Repo Man

  1. Feelin’ 7-Up! I’m feelin’ 7-Up!

    I haven’t seen this in ages, but I’ll bet that I still have at least half of the dialogue memorized.

  2. tatuaje

    Looked at today, Repo Man has lost a little of its luster. Most of the shock value is gone, and some of it feels like it’s trying too hard.

    Yep…just re-watched this a couple of weeks ago for the first time in years and that’s pretty much the conclusion I came to. But man, it sure was cool back in the day…

  3. Ezekiel

    Yeah, back then sushi was still new to most Americans. Now people routinely order sushi and don’t pay. ;-)

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