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REPO MAN Is One Of The Best Anti-Hero Films Ever

Repo Man is celebrating it’s thirtieth anniversary this month.  You might think knowing a movie that is thirty years old and was made during my lifetime might make me feel a little old, but not so.  Though, yes I was alive at the time the film was made, I was only four.  Sesame Street was more my speed then, and Emilio Estevez’s name wasn’t part of my vocabulary yet.   I was introduced to this cult classic from the eighties when I was a teenager in the late nineties and found myself hanging out with a bunch of raucous mohawked tattooed rockers.  As soon as these kids found out I hadn’t seen Repo Man, making sure I saw it became job one.

For those who aren’t familiar with the film, find the following:
Repo Man stars Harry Dean Stanton (Bud), Emilio Estesvez (Ott0), Tracey Walter (Miller)  and many more who serve as a very colorful cast of characters.  When Otto is fired from his job he finds himself, through a series of unusual circumstances, part of a repo man team which includes Bud and Miller.  His life is immediately more interesting than it ever has been before and soon enough Otto meets Leila (Olivia Barash).  With this relationship comes even more insanity and the infamous Chevy Malibu that, according to Leila, holds radioactive alien bodies.  When the repo office gets a request to track down the car for a large sum of money, the race is on to find the vehicle.  The ensuing chase, acquisition and then loss of the Malibu bring us some of the most entertaining and ridiculous moments in eighties film (I know that’s saying A LOT), as well as the best “so bad it’s good” radioactive death scenes ever made.

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Repo Man is like Sid and Nancy meets Twin Peaks meets The Twilight Zone.  It is one of the best anti-hero films to date; a hilariously ridiculous and fun ride to the wilder side, though if one doesn’t quite ‘get it’ then it just won’t hold the same magic that it does for the rest of us.  Just as Evil Dead before, Repo Man endeared itself to an entire generation even with (or maybe because of) it’s B-Movie quality.  The movie provides some of the most memorable performances in any of it’s actors’ careers.  

Repo Man is a movie that holds a special place in the heart of the punk rockers.  The culture of punk rock is well represented in the film and the main character, Otto  is the quintessential example of punk in the eighties.  The irony of Emilio rather than Charlie playing the hard rocking, hard partying Otto is not lost on me.   Not only is the punk rock lifestyle represented in the characters and the setting, but the film introduced some of the generation’s favorite punk bands to the rest of the world.  Repo Man‘s sound track exposed many for the first time to Spanish punk rock, which is by far some of my favorite.  Bands like Suicidal TendenciesThe Circle Jerks, Black FlagFear and Iggy Pop make this essential viewing and listening for any fan of true punk rock.

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Repo Man will always be an iconic reminder of all things eighties from generic white labeled groceries to giant steel sedan boats of cars that would never fit side by side in the mini parking spaces of today.  Repo Man is just a fun to watch today as it ever was back then.  I’m not as cool as I used to be and though I still run in to the friends from those days, my true punk rock days are done.  Maybe that’s the biggest appeal of Repo Man for those of us who love this movie.  Everything about it reminds us of the way things used to be and it’s a nice way to reminisce.   

“The life of a repo man is always intense.” – Miller

Where were you the first time you saw Repo Man?  What did you think then and did your perception change once you saw it again?

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The Author

Cat Edison

Cat Edison

Cat is an Austinite once removed with an affinity for film, TV, comics, graphic novels, and really anything she can read or watch. She gets emotionally invested in movie, television and literary characters, to an unhealthy degree. Cat has always had a passion for writing and there is little she loves more. Hopeful cynic and funny lady.