It happens sometimes, people just explode. Natural causes.
— Agent Rogersz
I don't want no commies in my car. No Christians either.Cult Classic
comedy-sci-fi movie directed by Alex Cox and released in 1984. Known for its predominance of Hey, It's That Guy!
's, 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
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".
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
Not to be confused with Repo! The Genetic Opera
or Repo Men
. Definitely not to be confused with Reaper Man
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence
- 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
- Cluster F-Bomb
- 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.
- 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?
- Hey, It's That Guy! - Otto = Andy from The Breakfast Club, Bud = Brett from Alien, Michael Nesmith is the producer, Olivia Barash was on Little House on the Prairie etc.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: They steal cars ... legally!
- Jerk Ass: The Rodriguez Brothers. The other repo men aren't that nice either, come to think of it.
- 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."
: (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
- 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
- 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.
- Sickly Green Glow
- 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!!!
- What Could Have Been: Muhammad Ali was supposed to make a cameo during the film's climax but had to back out due to a prior commitment.
- Widget Series: Definitely qualifies as a WHAT.