Forgotten Friday Flick – “Repo Man” (Harry Dean Stanton Tribute)

With new house moving, movies and mountains of life it’s been a few weeks since the last past picture dissection.  (Sorry folks!)  But it’s also a few weeks since the passing of one of my favorite actors the late, great Harry Dean Stanton.  A classic character actor who added so much to his roles, Stanton shined playing the wisecracking Brett in Alien, the headstrong Brain in Escape From New York, the cunning cop in Christine, the vengeful father in Red Dawn (“avenge me!”) and soothing dad in Pretty In Pink and of course excelled in the myriad of memorable collaborations between himself and auteur David Lynch.  (Plus my movie Dad states that Paris, Texas is Stanton’s finest film!)  So in tribute to the passing of one fantastic actor I’m pairing up my Forgotten Friday Flick this week with a smaller cinematic Harry Dean Stanton nugget that some of you might have missed.  A quirky and clever outing that mixes the everyday business of taking from those who don’t pay their bills with the outlandish idea of aliens from another planet for maximum odd egg memorable movie results.  It’s 4am, do you know where your car is?  More than likely its been jacked by a…Repo Man!

Otto is a cocky young punk rocking kid with a serious chip on his shoulder.  He hates authority, has little patience for friends and family and after flipping off his boss is out of work and money.  Enter Bud.  A scheming repo man who makes his living lifting cars from people who don’t pay, Bud cons Otto into helping him and then offers the young lad a job.  While apprehensive at first, Otto decides to learn the trade and make a few bucks.  But soon Otto comes across a car with out of this world beings in the trunk that changes the repo game.

As with any good cult film, there’s way too much going on inside Repo Man to explain in a simple way.  Chalk it up to the inventive brain of helmer Alex Cox (he of Sid & Nancy fame!) to match two captivating ideas that have no business being in the same film, yet both work wonderfully anyway.  The first involves the seedy lowbrow business of being a repo man, complete with unsavory individuals, loose morals and using whatever it takes to get the job done.  The second is a ‘what’s in the trunk’ tale that brings a killer sci-fi aspect plus certain death to all who inquire and peek into its back trunk contents.  Brought together in one very audacious and interesting indie outing (surprisingly distributed by a then with balls Universal Pictures!) the outcome is a gritty, hard hitting, but funny and fantastical flick that dares to be delightfully different.  (Plus with a little of Cox’s signature punk era loving flair!)

The alien stuff is easy to sell via visual storytelling, complete with grim bits (the skeleton flesh stripping light from the trunk gag is AWESOME!) and strange signs (ever see a car glow?!), but it’s the cast of characters that sell the repo aspect of the film.  A young budding Emilio Estevez as the egotistical Otto, Harry Dean Stanton (in fine form as always!) as the conniving Bud, Tracey Walter as garbage can prophet Miller and Sy Richardson as the sleazy Lite all fill in the underground world of being a repo man.  In fact it’s their authentic feeling work that makes the alien aspects of the piece stick out so wonderfully – weird plays even better in real life.

Cox tried to rekindle the repo magic years later with a green screen riddled follow up entitled Repo Chick but to little effect.  There’s something about the realistic yet utterly out there tone of Repo Man that cannot be duplicated with mere new ideas alone.  A product of the wild and abandoned 80’s era, Alex Cox created an outing that flicks fire in the face off films that say taking risks never pays off – Repo Man takes back movies with balls.


I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

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