Repo Man (1984)

repo man poster 1984 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Totally '80s

Is often too quirky for its own good

Movie Info

Movie Name:   Repo Man

Studio:   Edge City

Genre(s):   Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Comedy

Release Date(s):   March 2, 1984

MPAA Rating:   R

repo man otto bud emilio estevez harry dean stanton

What’s in the trunk?

Otto Maddox (Emilio Estevez) is a punk who just can’t hold a job.  A high school dropout who lives with his parents, Otto finds his luck changing when he helps a man named Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) repossess a car.  Despite objects, Otto is now a repo man and the repo agents in Los Angeles have a big new target.  A 1964 Chevrolet Malibu has been ordered repossessed and the payout is $20,000.  When Otto meets a girl named Leila (Olivia Barash), he learns that there is something special about the ’64 Chevy and what is in its trunk…everyone wants it and the winner could get a prize or be killed.

Written and directed by Alex Cox, Repo Man is a sci-fi comedy fantasy.  The low budget movie was released to surprisingly strong reviews and multiple awards, and it quickly gained a cult following over the years.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #654).

repo man car trunk aliens

So do I have any cavities?

I heard a lot about Repo Man before I saw Repo Man.  It was one of those movies that you don’t even understand the descriptions of what is happing in the movie.  With a very ’80s feel to it, I saw Repo Man a number of years ago, but I hadn’t been too eager to revisit it.  I still want to like Repo Man a lot, but I just struggle with the film.

Repo Man is a weird blend in its script which is what makes it stand out.  You have this bizarre ’80s punk action mixed with a sci-fi story…but it doesn’t blend the same way that something like Return of the Living Dead does (it does have a similar feel at points).  The story weaves in the interesting philosophy surrounding the repo men and how they approach their job.  It generally works, but sometimes feels clunky (which is intentional).  You have to really be in the mood for the humor of the movie to strike you right.

The cast is strong.  Emilio Estevez plays the relatively flat Otto who finds himself caught out in a strange situation.  The standout is Harry Dean Stanton who tries to guide Estevez with his wisdom and experience.  I don’t love Olivia Barash’s Leila (as part of the United Fruitcake Outlet), but I do like Tracey Walter’s odd Miller.

repo man flying green car otto miller emilio estevez tracey walter

Were we’re going, we don’t need roads!

The movie bathes in the ’80s.  The looks and style of the movie really capture aspects of the punk movement and this is combined with a soundtrack made up of tons of punk performers like Iggy Pop, the Circle Jerks, and the Plugz.  In addition to that, you get a day-glo flying green car (which doesn’t happen often).

Repo Man is a strange, strange film.  I want to love the movie, but I only can like the movie and respect the movie.  I love the blending of genres and the styles and the poetic waxing of the characters like Harry Dean Stanton, but it is a movie that I can only watch once or twice every few years.  With strange copyright issues, Repo Man was followed by an unfinished sequel that was released as a graphic novel called Waldo’s Hawaiian Holiday in 2008 and an unofficial sequel by Cox called Repo Chick in 2009.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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