Repo Man

Year: 1984

Production: Edge City Productions / Universal

Director: Alex Cox

Starring: Emilio Estevez, Harry Dean Stanton, Tracey Walter, Olivia Barash

Screenwriter: Alex Cox

92 minutes; Color

Set in the seedier areas of Los Angeles, this independent, low-budget, semi-surreal film concerns a young man (Estevez) who gets a job as a repo man - a repossessor of unpaid-for cars. A 1964 Chevrolet Malibu driven by a lobotomized nuclear physicist is driving around town with something nasty and radioactive in the trunk. People who look inside see a glaring white light (shades of Kiss Me Deadly [1955]) which disintegrates them. A series of coincidences (concerning repo men, a teenager obsessed with aliens, chicano car thieves, middle-class punk thugs and secret agents led by a woman with a metal hand) reveal something about the underbelly of urban life and provide science-fictional metaphors for urban dreams. The Chevy undergoes a final apotheosis: now glowing all over, it drifts into the heavens with two repo men inside. We never learn what was in the car's trunk but, as an acid-head explains early on, flying saucers and time machines are fundamentally the same thing and getting into specific misses the point. Repo Man became an instant cult movie, not just because of its punk aesthetics and black humor, but also because of its old-fashioned virtues: it is well made and coherently scripted.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

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