By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on July 6, 2013)
Repo Man – Criterion Collection Blu-ray
This 1984 punk-rock/sci-fi black comedy version of Rebel without a Cause is actually one of the more coherent efforts from mercurial U.K. filmmaker Alex Cox. Emilio Estevez is suitably sullen as disenfranchised L.A. punk Otto, who stumbles into a gig as a “repo man” after losing his job, getting dumped by his girlfriend and deciding to disown his parents. As he is indoctrinated into the samurai-like “code” of the repo man by sage veteran Bud (Harry Dean Stanton, in another masterful deadpan performance) Otto begins to realize that he’s found his true calling.
A subplot involving a mentally fried government scientist on the run, driving around with a mysterious, glowing “whatsit” in the trunk is an obvious homage to Robert Aldrich’s 1955 noir, Kiss Me Deadly. Cox tosses a UFO conspiracy into the mix, and makes excellent use of L.A. locations (thanks in no small part to master cinematographer Robby Muller’s lens work). The fabulous soundtrack includes Iggy Pop, Black Flag, and The Circle Jerks.
I suspect I’m not the only cult movie geek who was quite excited to learn that this gem was finally receiving the Criterion treatment, and they’ve done it proud.