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    Repo Man

    Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 90 mins . R . PAL


    After getting fired from his shelf-stacking supermarket job, Otto (Emilio Estevez) finds himself back on the street screwing, slam-dancing and slacking like young punks do. After a chance street encounter with Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) however, Otto is tricked into stealing a car that has been slotted for repossession. Pretty soon it becomes clear that there is nothing else on the career or education horizon, so he decides to join the wise and life-hardened Bud in the repo business. He soon finds himself involved in the chase for a hot bounty, a runaway 1964 Chevy Malibu with a mentally disturbed driver and a mysterious cargo.

    I'd wager everyone remembers the first time they saw Repo Man. If you're around my age and missed the film at the cinema, then maybe you hired it from your local. Maybe because hunky Emilio was on the front cover, or maybe because it looked like it would be a laugh. Whatever the reason, by its closing credits, you would have been more than likely left scratching your head, wondering what exactly it was you had just watched.

    According to director Alex Cox, under Repo Man's bizarre visual melding of science-fiction conspiracies and LA punk and car culture, it is essentially a film about nuclear war. What is often literally referred to as alien remains contained within the boot of the film's famous Chevy Malibu is, in actuality, a nuclear device. Tell tale signs of this are everywhere, in the food, in the clothes, even in the city itself. Los Angeles has always been a post-apocalyptic wasteland, everybody knows that, but it's rare that it has looked as unappealing as it does in Repo Man.

    "Only an asshole gets killed for a car!"

    The characters themselves play a large part in the film's often hilariously bleak demeanour. However one relates to them, no one can deny that this mixed bag of sweaty losers, paranoid conspiracy theorists and just plain nut jobs give Repo Man about as much collective appeal as a particularly miserable concentration camp. But that's the point really, urban life hasn't been all peaches and cream for a long time now, especially for the overwhelming percentage of people born without a silver spoon.

    Ultimately, Repo Man is a warts and all film about slackers and misfits. You don't really sympathise with them, you're just along for the spaced-out and grimy ride. Cult cinema has rarely been as strikingly memorable (in a sort of apathetic way) as it is in Repo Man, which is, of course, fantastic.


    This film has received a fairly surprising transfer. By all accounts, there isn't a great deal to get overly disappointed with here. For starters, it's a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, which is always comforting. Sharpness and colour levels are both above average for a film of this age and, especially, low-budget nature. There are a few problems with grain throughout the film, especially in darker areas, but it's nothing out of the ordinary. Small issues with aliasing also pop up in a few sections, but that's about as bad as it gets.


    There's nothing spectacular about the Dolby Digital stereo track provided here, but all things considered, it does the job just fine. The acclaimed punk soundtrack comes through nice and loud, and there are no problems with synch or drop outs. Dialogue is also nice and clear throughout. It would have been nice to have a 5.1 mix available here, but the difference would have been fairly minor.


    Why can't we afford to have at least the commentary from the Region 1 release on this DVD? The complete lack of anything resembling an extra on this disk is an abhorrent oversight. It's pretty safe to say that the majority of people who consider buying this title will be fans of cult cinema, and if they're given the choice between a bare-bones local release or a very reasonably priced import, then it's quite clear which one most will opt to purchase.

    Although it's kind of ironic that the post-apocalyptic wasteland in the film is so accurately represented in the extras department here, don't you think?


    Repo Man is simply essential for cult collectors. Years on, the film has lost none of its impact and creativity. Although the video and audio transfers are quite acceptable, it's just a shame that we have to endure an entirely extras-less release of the film here in Region 4.

    Grab a copy and show it to someone who has never even heard of it, then chuckle to yourself as they try and piece it together.

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      And I quote...
    "Cult cinema has rarely been as strikingly memorable..."
    - Ben Pollock
      Review Equipment
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          Omni SL-P2000KD
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          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
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          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Audio Cables:
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    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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