Film / Repo Man

It happens sometimes, people just explode. Natural causes.
Agent Rogersz

I don't want no commies in my car. No Christians either!

A Cult Classic comedy-sci-fi movie directed by Alex Cox and released in 1984. Known for its comic vignettes, outlandish scenarios, Genre-Busting aesthetic memorable dialogue and well-liked soundtrack, made entirely out of songs from famous Punk Rock bands like Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies, Circle Jerks, Iggy Pop, and others.

Young LA punk Otto Maddox (Emilio Estevez) has a really bad day: he gets fired from his job at the supermarket, sees his girlfriend cheat on him with his best friend at a party and finds that his ex-hippie parents donated all his money to a televangelist. He meets Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) and becomes a repossession agent. The life of a Repo Man stimulates him a great deal more than the increasingly phony world of LA punks. Through various encounters and a mad rush between competing repo men and the CIA to locate a 1964 Chevrolet Malibu, Otto learns that "the life of a repo man is always intense".

Based on a some true stories Cox picked up when he worked as a repo man. There aren't many aliens, but there's plenty of shrimp!

Alex Cox released a sequel named Repo Chick in 2009.

Not to be confused with Repo! The Genetic Opera or Repo Men. Definitely not to be confused with Reaper Man.

Tropes used:

  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Miller and Otto at the end.
  • Arc Words: A whole big plate of them.
  • Artificial Limbs : An obvious, bizarre, and hilarious Shout-Out to Metropolis.
  • Blatant Lies: Agent Rogersz' assertion that sometimes people just blow up to explain the state trooper's spontaneously combusted body
  • Brand X: Otto works at Ralph's before he becomes a repo-man, so everything has the generic labels Ralph's used to have.
    • It's so pervasive that even the butyl nitrate spilled on the table in the club is marked with a generic label.
    • At one point, Otto eats from a can labeled "Food"
  • Cameo: The Circle Jerks as ... The Circle Jerks if they were a lounge band.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Depending on your perspective a) Miller, b) everybody but Miller, c) everybody and Miller is so far he comes around the other side.
  • Church of Happyology: Dioretix
  • Cool Car: Subverted, the car that holds everyone's desires is:
    • MacGuffin: a 1964 Chevrolet Malibu with New Mexico plates that's somehow worth $20,000.
      • And opening its trunk makes people vaporize.
    • In the end, it does become rather cool, with A lightning bolt-generating forcefield and the ability to fly (and to possibly traverse time and space). Who wouldn't want those features?
  • Cool Old Guy: Bud, at first.
  • Creator Cameo: Alex Cox is on a bench watching the Rodriguez brothers steal a car.
  • Down L.A. Drain: The car chase goes into the drains as well.
  • Face–Heel Turn: After being kidnapped by them, Leila joins The Men in Black and starts helping Agent Rogersz out
  • Freudian Excuse: Otto's punk friend tries to blame society for his criminal ways, only for Otto to point out that that's bullshit, he's just a white suburban punk like him.
  • Gainax Ending
  • Genre-Busting: How many punk rock sci-fi satires are there in the world?
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: They steal cars ... legally!
  • Jerk Ass: The Rodriguez Brothers. The other repo men aren't that nice either, however.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks!: In-Universe examples.
    Lite: "I was into these dudes before anyone. Wanted me to be their manager. I called bullshit on that. Managing a pop group is no job for a man."
    Otto: (Regarding the "lounge" performance by the Circle Jerks) "I can't believe I used to like these guys."
  • Just as Planned: When Otto escapes from being tortured, Agent Rogersz casually remarks, "It's all part of the plan."
  • Loan Shark
  • Lobotomy: One lunatic character laments on how great he felt after getting a lobotomy himself. Of course, he also talks about how radiation is harmless.
  • Meaningful Name: All of the Repo Men are named after beers.
  • The Men in Black: The CIA agents searching for the missing aliens. All of them wear black suits, white shirts, and black ties, and have blonde hair.
  • Mexican Standoff: In the convenience store late in the film.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: Need a Sickly Green Glow and can't afford CG? Buy some green glow-paint! This actually worked out well, as the CG of the era falls straight into Conspicuous CG nowadays.
    • Rogersz' hand is simply covered in aluminum foil. Her using a screwdriver to adjust it helps sell it as a robot hand.
  • Poke the Poodle: The punks. Even after they shoot a guy.
  • Product Placement: The only aversion to Brand X were the Christmas tree air fresheners. The makers sponsored the film.
    • "Find one in every car. You'll see."
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The employees of the Helping Hand Acceptance Corporation certainly apply
  • Random Events Plot: Before the Chevy Malibu comes into play, the plot is mostly pieces of Otto and the other Repo Men doing their job.
  • Running Gag: Several
    • The three punks committing random crimes
    • The Brand X generic labels on everything
    • The Plate O'Shrimp
    • The old lady whose trash Otto runs over
    • The car freshners
    • The televangelist, whose demands for money over various TV and radio programs can be heard in the background of many scenes
    • Dioretix
  • Scary Black Man: Lite, who carries around a gun and isn't afraid to use it if people try to shoot him while he's taking their car. It's loaded with blanks
  • Shout-Out: A couple to William S. Burroughs.
    • And in turn, the electronic band Future Sound of London titled their song "Eyes Pop, Skin Explodes, Everybody Dead" after a line from the movie.
    • When Marlene takes Otto into the hospital, a voice on the PA says "Dr. Benway to surgery." Nice touch.
    • The backwards credits at the end reference Kiss Me Deadly.
  • Sickly Green Glow: The 1964 Chevy Malibu at the end.
  • Stable Time Loop: Miller's interpretation of reality.
  • Stay with the Aliens:
    Leila: "Otto! What about our relationship?"
    Otto: (Pauses and looks back) "Fuck that."
  • Strawman News Media: Played for laughs in many a Funny Background Event.
  • Theme Naming: Different beers.
  • Those Two Guys: The Rodriguez Brothers
  • Too Dumb to Live: Archie opens the trunk of the Malibu, even after he's seen that doing so emits a bright light and whatever's in the trunk is extremely hot to the touch. He is fried for his trouble
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Of course "blanks get the job done too" if you don't tell us.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Flip You, Melon Farmer!!!
  • Widget Series: Definitely qualifies as a WHAT.