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review added: 8/11/00



Repo Man
1984 (2000) - Universal (Anchor Bay)

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Repo Man Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/A-

Specs and Features

92 minutes, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary (with writer/director Alex Cox, executive producer Michael Nesmith, casting director Victoria Thomas and stars Sy Richardson, Zander Schloss and Del Zamora), Easter Egg featuring The Repo Man Code cast and crew biographies and filmographies, THX Optimode audio and video test signals, theatrical trailer, home video trailer, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (20 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0), subtitles: none, Closed Captioned

"The more you drive, the less intelligent you are."

In this world, you're either a fan of mainstream films or you're a fan of cult movies. I'm sure by now, most of you that read my reviews, and like what I have to say, know that I like cult movies. Try to keep in mind that when I say "cult movie", I don't mean that in terms of the budget or even poor production value sense. A cult film doesn't have to be a piece of schlock like a Troma flick or Killer Klowns from Outer Space. No... a cult film can be Dogma, Showgirls or even Coyote Ugly. While they may pretend to be legitimate films, they aren't. You know it, I know it.. and the makers of those films know it. Hey, today's blockbuster, tomorrow's cult film.

Far from being yesterday's blockbuster Repo Man has become quite the cult film. Name me another film with so much anti-social behavior, cuss words and violence that has appeared on A&E. I'll give you a few moments. Ready? You can't do it, can you? If that doesn't mark Repo Man as a cult film in your mind, then I don't know what to say. But pound for pound, this movie has about as many quotable lines as your average Shakespeare play. That's saying a lot I know, but the film will hold up to the comparison. It also has some great characters, that are well defined and have real motivations. Those motivations may sometimes be wacky and slightly skewered, but they are motivations. And I'll bet some of us have done weirder things.

Repo Man follows 80s punk rock ne'er-do-well Otto (Emilio Estevez), who in one day loses his job stocking grocery store shelves, loses his girl to his best friend and then bumps into the life as a repo man quite by accident. When he helps Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) "rip" a car, he get initiated into the fraternity of repo men - a frat of tough-talking men who don't care about anything except where the next dollar is coming from or how good that next generic beer is going to taste going down. But the life of a repo man is intense, especially when a 1964 Chevy Malibu turns up on the list of cars to pick up. It's $20,000 dollars to the guy who brings it in, but why so much money for such a clunker? The answer may lie somewhere in the trunk. For whoever opens it up quickly evaporates into thin air. Is a nuclear weapon or something from outer space? If you were Otto, you're answer would be, "Who gives a shit." Repo Man makes for an incredible little film that captures the attitude and life-style of a group of disenchanted youth... and it makes you laugh hard while doing it. If you thought Gen X had an attitude, wait until you get a load of this.

Repo Man has achieved greatness in the short time it's been around and, like many cult films, it was helped tremendously by home video. So I guess it's fitting that this film gets a such a nice face-lift on DVD. For all you fans out there, this is a nice treat. I've never really been a fan of Anchor Bay in the past. I've written them off I dunno how many times. But recently, the Bay has been putting out some really top-notch work. It started with the special edition of Halloween they did, and they've gotten to the point where they are doing a real killer job each and every time. Repo Man is pretty stellar. Starting with the video, it's a clean anamorphic presentation. The colors are nice, there aren't any artifacts (in the backgrounds or otherwise) and the blacks are solid. You could eat off this picture - it's that clean. I enjoyed watching the movie again just because it looked so nice. The sound is even better. It's presented in either Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0, and both sound really nice. There's a bit more play in the 5.1 (as there should be) but the 2.0 is very spacious as well. In fact, if you had stereo accidentally selected, you may not notice for a while. That's a compliment by the way.

Repo Man is also a small special edition as well. Along with two trailers and a cast and crew listing, you'll find a commentary track that is as informative as it is funny. It features writer/director Alex Cox, along with producers, casting directors and cast members, talking about the trials of getting the film made and distributed, and where people are now. It's a real fun listen. I could have played pseudo-film historian and regurgitated all the info in this review, but hearing it for yourself is just that much more of a pay off. If you're even a small fan of this film, you should pick this disc up just for the commentary. Aside from that, there's the THX Optimode calibration signals (to test your audio and video set-up) and an Easter Egg in the special features section (it's nothing really - just a short video segment with the "Repo Code" played out in text over it). It's a small package, but it's a nice one and it's worth checking out.

Few cult films have made the impact Repo Man has. It's a universal (and Universal) favorite, that has a wide and diverse group of fans. But with the mainstream accessibility of DVD, more and more people will get a chance to see it and fall in love with it. It's not a serious film, but serious film fans can appreciate it. Anchor Bay is also releasing this same exact disc in a special edition tin, that includes a 48-page booklet about the film. Either way you decide to own this film, it's definitely worth owning. We'll just let Otto speak for us on this one: "Couldn't enjoy it any more, Mom. Mmmmmmm...."

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com




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