Car boot tale

Emilio Estevez and Sy Richardson in Repo Man.

Our favoured way of dealing with traffic wardens.

Release Date: 20 February 2012
1984 * 18 * 92 minutes * £20.42 (Blu-ray)/£30.63 (steelbook edition Blu-ray)
Distributor: Eureka!
Director: Alex Cox
Cast: Harry Dean Stanton, Emilio Estevez, Olivia Barash, Tracey Walter

For a movie with a highly fantastical premise, Alex Cox’s cult item has very little interest in being a “science fiction film”.

The MacGuffin of the piece (itself a homage to the MacGuffin of classic noir Kiss Me Deadly) is a 1964 Chevy Malibu. Inside the boot: a bunch of alien corpses stolen from the US military. Open the boot and you’re liable to end up as just a pair of smoking boots. After the car’s stolen, Harry Dean Stanton’s repo man and the young kid he’s taken under his wing as his apprentice (Emilio Estevez) end up on its trail.

The aliens don’t really matter – they’re just a means by which to bring various groups of wackos and scuzzballs into collision. The narrative drifts rather aimlessly, but that’s all part of the fun. Cox – like Richard Stanley, another great British maverick who couldn’t even get a job in Hollywood washing cars nowadays – has as much contempt for the rules as Estevez’s cocky, buzz-cutted punk has for the world in general. Crammed with quotable, often gnomic one-liners, and set to an achingly cool soundtrack of hardcore punk, it’s a movie with a disreputable, insolent charm.


Every bit as idiosyncratic as the film. Highlights? A raucous, laughter-filled commentary by Cox, executive producer Michael Nesmith (yes, the same Mike Nesmith who was one of The Monkees), the casting director and three of the cast. Cox’s re-edit for TV is full of “Flip you!”s and “Melonfarmer!”s, with additional scenes to plug the gaps where unsavoury content was cut out. An interview with Harry Dean Stanton (22 minutes) proves amusing, as he deflects every question with his laconic brand of fatalist Zen (“Life is all a movie, and it’s in the can.”) And what other director would present his “missing scenes” (26 minutes) by showing them to Sam Cohen, the creator of the neutron bomb?! You also get a 44-page colour booklet put together by Cox himself, crammed with Repo Man ephemera.

Ian Berriman

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