Repo Man [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - Australia - Umbrella Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (16th November 2023).
The Film

"Repo Man" (1984)

Otto (played by Emilio Estevez) is at a crossroads in his life. He quits his mundane job at the supermarket. He leaves his girlfriend Debbi (played by Jennifer Balgobin) after he sees her in bed with Duke (played by Dick Rude). He can't rely on his parents as they are glued to the TV and brainwashed by a televangelist Reverend Larry (played by Bruce White) and have donated their savings to his organization. He is recruited by Bud (played by Harry Dean Stanton) for a quick job which turns out to be for his repossession agency. While at first reluctant, Otto takes the job. Meanwhile, J. Frank Parnell (played by Fox Harris) is driving a Chevy Malibu from New Mexico to California, who is carrying something in the trunk that can instantly vaporize anyone who lays eyes on it. As there is a $20,000 bounty on the car, Otto is after the vehicle, but so are other repo men as well as government agents.

"Repo Man" is one of the oddest and most offbeat films of the period, by mixing an existential coming-of-age teen rebel story, science fiction horror, street crime drama, and punk rock into one feature that somehow works. This was the first feature film written and directed by Alex Cox and though he had a streak of impressive features from thereon, the uniqueness and the creativity of his debut has always overshadowed his subsequent works. The film probably would have been a miserable mishmash of ideas and failures if given to the hands of others due to the insane ideas put forward. But what makes it work and why does it work?

The focus is almost entirely on the Otto character. A young adult in the punk rock scene who has a middle finger attitude towards society, yet he is not the one to put up a fight. He is not confrontational and is always the one to walk away. So when he leaves his job at the supermarket, when he walks away from his girlfriend, or when he asks his parents for money, there isn't a fight or a brawl. The closest there is is at the supermarket when he pushes his coworker and friend Kevin (played by Zander Schloss into a display of canned products. When he finally encounters the ragtag group that work at the Helping Hands Assistance Agency, he sees a different type of punk rock aesthetic in the workplace. The no-nonsense Bud who can trick his way into people's heads and not at all worried about consequences of bringing out his baseball bat as a means of defense. The chill Lite (played by Sy Richardson), yet he will fire his gun if necessary. There's also scrapyard worker Miller (played by Tracey Walter) whose words could be from a prophet or a lunatic. His reluctance to drive since it will make him less intelligent, having an interesting choice of words for John Wayne, and being seemingly knowledgeable about extra-terrestrials, his character might be the most fascinating of the bunch. When Bud and Otto run into rival repo men the Rodriguez brothers (played by Del Zamora and Eddie Velez), Otto completely falls in love with the wild and crazy world of the repossession men, which was a far cry from stocking shelves and using a pricing gun. Not only is Otto finding a new life of fun for himself, but he starts to build confidence with his new direction, and it's interesting to see the character evolution, even if he is still a young kid that is clueless about his surroundings. While the story of Otto's growth is fascinating enough, the B-story cannot be forgotten about.

The sequences of the Chevy Malibu and Parnell's road trip is one that is surrounded in the most mystery. It is never revealed what is in the trunk of the car and it's not quite clear what his story is and what his goal is, though what is known is that he is under heavy exposure to radiation most likely coming from the contents of the trunk, and is consistently sweaty and mad. He is not in a sense of panic, yet he is paranoid throughout. There are some clues such as from the character of Leila (played by Olivia Barash) claiming there are aliens stashed away in the trunk of the car, and the government agent Rogersz (played by Susan Barnes) who has the metallic hand and is in pursuit of stolen government property alongside other agents in hazmat suits. The B-story seems like a completely different film in terms of plot, though tonally they are fitting as taking place in a slightly odd world with quirky characters and oddball dark humor.

The humor of "Repo Man" is certainly fun and unique. The character interactions, the vulgar language of the characters and the weirdly funny stories that are exchanged are filled with quotable memorable lines. Miller's straight yet bizarre tales, Otto's parents covered in cobwebs while sitting in front of the television, as well as the absurd fight sequences and confrontations. There is also a comical sense of what appears to be mocking the film world where real life products cannot exist, as all the products in the supermarket and are eaten or drunk by the characters are the most generic looking products ever made, with simple lettering stating "Beer", "Corn Flakes", etc. in with no graphics at all. It was thought that these were designed by the production team so they wouldn't have to pay for licensing commercial products, but they were in fact real products that were donated by Ralph's Supermarkets, which stocked those generic products in their stores. They were given to the production as they were nearing expiration. The bland looking products on the shelves in the stores and the homes made a look that was unintentionally funny and became iconic as well.

Another strong aspect to "Repo Man" was the visuals, which were shot by legendary cinematographer Robby Müller, who captured a great look with the many outdoor sequences of Los Angeles in light as well as the darker night sequences and indoors. The final sequence which used an unnaturally glowing green color was actually not a post-production visual effect, but done in camera using special paint and darkly lit photography. Müller doesn't make things too flashy or draw attention to the camerawork, and lets the actors and setting do the storytelling, just as he had done on many of his iconic works with Wim Wenders and Jim Jarmusch.

The punk scene is also a key in the film, as it features an excellent soundtrack of West Coast punk artists, including Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies, Fear, and the Circle Jerks (who also make cameo appearances in the film in two scenes). No only were there up and coming artists, but also the legendary godfather of punk Iggy Pop, which Alex Cox requested a song specifically for the film. Pop's career was in a slump at the time, as he was dropped from major label Arista Records and his most recent album at the time, the indie released "Zombie Birdhouse" from 1982 was not a commercial or critical hit. There was some success to be had with his friend and sometimes collaborator David Bowie covering Pop's song "China Girl" for his 1983 album "Let's Dance", which became a worldwide sensation and one of Bowie's most well known songs even if it was not one of his own. Pop's career saw a turnaround with "China Girl" and its rise, as well as contributing to Bowie's 1984 album "Tonight" for a number of songs, and his 1986 album for A&M records "Blah Blah Blah" became his most commercially successful. The soundtrack album for "Repo Man" was ahead of its time with its compilation of punk rock bands and a highly influential one that set a standard for soundtrack crossmarketing with up and coming bands.

The film had another musical connection with its executive producer Michael Nesmith who was a member of The Monkees and was instrumental in having the film get a distribution deal with Universal Pictures though a negative pickup. Unfortunately, Universal was not optimistic for the film due to weak test screenings, which caused some distress and frustrations for the cast and crew. The soundtrack album, which was to be distributed by MCA records saw the potential to crossmarket the album and the film which led to Universal reluctantly releasing it theatrically, though only in limited release. It was a hit with critics who were enthusiastic with the wildly unique premise and darkly humorous tone, it proved to be commercially successful, grossing #3.7 million, which was ahead of the film's fairly small $1.5 million budget. For wider appeal, Universal wanted to push the film for television broadcast, but that meant that a lot of the bad language had to be removed. Seeing it as an opportunity to create a slightly different take on the film, Alex Cox along with Dick Rude supervised an alternate television version which replaced the vulgar language and questionable content with hilarious overdubs like "Flip you!" for the F-word and so forth. In addition, they added some previously deleted scenes and used some alternate and extended takes in others to create a new experience for a bigger audience. The film's cult status grew with broadcast television and cable runs, as well as home video releases which had the censored dialogue intact.

Alex Cox would return to the "Repo" world with a spiritual though unconnected independent successor "Repo Chick" in 2009, which had some cameo appearances from some "Repo Man" actors in completely different roles. There were some legal issues from Universal Pictures, who owned the rights to "Repo Man" and considered Cox's title a sequel. Rather than working with Cox on distribution or promotion of his film, Universal instead released "Repo Men" in 2010 which had nothing to do with "Repo Man" or its themes and was a commercial and critical disaster.

"Repo Man" is certainly a lot of fun and is an insanely rewatchable film, though it isn't free from its flaws. The story of Otto may be fleshed out well, but his relationship with Leila as well as some of the other supporting characters are not as strong as they could have been. In addition, the government agents could have used more screentime as well. But even with its flaws, it's certainly one that shouldn't be missed. Its punk attitude and oddball humor is nothing short of insane fun.

Note this is a region ALL Blu-ray


Umbrella Entertainment presents the theatrical version of the film in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio in 1080p AVC MPEG-4. The image looks similar if not identical to the HD transfer that was used for the 2012 UK Blu-ray, from an HD master by Universal. Though over a decade old, it is still a fairly solid transfer, framed in the theatrical aspect ratio, having bold colors, a clean image with few if any damage marks being visible while film grain is kept intact. Colors do not stand out drastically but has a natural looking tone for its era, though the bright neon green does come in strong in the finale. There are instances of color fluctuation in some scenes if looked at very carefully, but overall it is not hugely noticeable. Taking up over 26GB of space of the dual layer disc, the transfer doesn't show any signs of compression. Overall a great transfer that still holds up well.

The television version which is included as an extra is in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio in 1080p AVC, upscaled from a standard definition master. While Universal was preparing a version for television broadcast and airline use, Cox was instrumental on delivering a unique version under his supervision, which meant rewriting the dialogue to remove swear words (such as the replacement phrase "melon farmers" which the film created), as well as having some alternate and extended scenes to extend the runtime. The alternate scenes do not change the narrative at all, and neither does the altered dialogue, though the television version is a fun and fascinating curiosity piece for newcomers while it also serves as a nostalgic artifact for fans who experienced it first on television. Since it was edited in standard definition video, the transfer here comes from the broadcast master which is obviously weaker than the film transfer of the theatrical version. The fullscreen transfer opens the matted area so there is actually more headroom to be seen in this transfer. The NTSC colorspace does not have the depth of HD so it is weaker in color reproduction, damage marks from the telecine transfer are sometimes visible as well. There are points in which scenes would fade to black and fade back in a second later to indicate to television stations where the commercial bumpers would go. While this transfer takes up less than 5GB of space, it is reasonable considering the source being in standard definition.

The runtime for the theatrical cut is 92:08 and the television version is 96:35.


Theatrical Version:
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo
TV Version:
English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

The theatrical version has two lossless audio tracks. The original mono track sounds very good, with dialogue, music and effects being well balanced throughout, with voices being clear and easy to hear while the punk music cues and the score portions also sound excellent. There are no issues such as hiss, pops, or dropout to be heard in the audio mix. The 5.1 mix was created for the Universal DVD release from 2006. The 5.1 track sounds quite good and is not a wildly overmixed directional audio track. Dialogue is always centered, while music and effects are spread out to the surrounding speakers, giving breathing space and heavier bass which is nice for the punk cues. Again they are well balanced and non-obtrusive, and not using out of place new effects, instead relying on existing sounds from the original audio. While the original mono is the most authentic, the surround mix is a very good alternative.

For the television version the audio is only available in lossy mono. It is a bit flatter though there are no problematic issues to speak of, with dialogue, music and effects being well balanced.

There are optional English HoH subtitles for the theatrical version in a white font. They are well timed and easy to read without errors to speak of. The TV version has no subtitles.


Audio commentary by director Alex Cox, executive producer Michael Nesmith, casting director Victoria Thomas, and actors Sy Richardson, Zander Schloss, and Del Zamora
This vintage audio commentary is a filled group discussion with six members of the cast and crew reunited. They have quite a lot of stories to tell in a very fun and loose form while also keeping things screen specific. Talked about are the casting choices, the performances, the selection of products donated from Ralphs Supermarkets that became iconic, the stuntwork, problems on set, the writing, the distribution, the reactions, and much more. Note this was originally recorded for the US Anchor Bay DVD from 2000 and has been featured on a number of DVD and Blu-ray releases since then.
in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

Introduction by director Alex Cox (10:38)
This self produced introduction from Cox has him discussing the negative reaction that Universal Studios had with the film's test screenings, the fight to get the film released, the pioneering soundtrack album, the failed pitch for the unproduced sequel, the legal issues between Cox and Universal with the "Repo" name, and more. Though it is called an "introduction", it is more an "outroduction" as he basically discusses about the film's life from its release onward, rather than a standard introduction to the film itself. It's still quite fascinating nonetheless and is free of spoilers for newcomers. Note this was produced for the UK's Eureka! Entertainment's Blu-ray release from 2012, and that is why he mentions "The Masters of Cinema Series" at the end.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"Harry Zen Stanton" conversation between actor Harry Dean Stanton and producer Peter McCarthy (21:19)
This featurette shot in 2005 has Stanton talking with McCarthy on a number of subjects, including his work on "Repo Man", his work with other directors and what separates great directors from the bad, his affinity for Marlon Brando and a conversation he had with the actor, as well as a number of argumentative points and singing "Row Row Row Your Boat". Note this was produced for the 2006 US Universal DVD and has been featured on a various Blu-ray releases since then.
in 1080p 30fps MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"The Missing Scenes" featurette (25:01)
This is not a reel of just deleted and extended scenes, but is an interestingly made piece with scenes and interviews. There are scenes found in the television version as well as a few alternate and deleted scenes not found in either version, such as the early bedroom scene with nudity. Between the scenes are interviews, such as executive producer Nesmith, nuclear physicist and fan of the film Samuel T. Cohen, and an actor (I could not identify) playing the J. Frank Parnell character, all conducted by Alex Cox with discussions on the scenes. Note this was produced for the 2006 US Universal DVD and has been featured on a various Blu-ray releases since then.
in 1080p 30fps MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"Repossessed" featurette (25:27)
This featurette shot in 2005 starts with a roundtable conversation with Peter McCarthy, Alex Cox, and Jonathan Wacks as they recall the making of the film, from working with the actors, the inspiration for the John Wayne story, Stanton insisting using a wooden bat for the fight scene, the difficulty with the ending, and much more. There are also individual interviews with Dick Rude, Del Zamora and Sy Richardson on their characters and memories of the shoot. Many if not all the stories are already covered in the commentary track, but is still interesting to hear from everyone. Note this was produced for the 2006 US Universal DVD and has been featured on a various Blu-ray releases since then.
in 1080p 30fps MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"Repo Man Film Locations Then & Now" 80's Life YouTube video (18:02)
YouTuber Kurt Crucial's channel "80's Life" focuses on nostalgia for the 1980s through films, television, music and more and he has made a number of fascinating shorts comparing filming locations of then and now, with "Repo Man" being one of them. Crucial uploaded the video in 2021 and later updated the video for 2023 with additional locations, which is what is included on the Umbrella Blu-ray. He shows the locations in chronological order of the appearance in the film, from the supermarket where Otto worked, various intersections, the scrap yard, and more, with many differences from the decades since the film was made. The picture is slightly windowboxed for some reason. The short is also embedded below.
in 1080p 30fps MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"Punk & Disorderly - The Music of Repo Man" featurette (11:38)
Journalist and author of "American Hardcore" Steven Blush gives a presentation on the iconic and influential soundtrack album, with information on each of the artists featured and their songs. It's a great breakdown of the album itself which is not discussed much in the other extras on this set, though he does pronounce actor Gary Oldman's name wrong and mistakenly states that "Repo Man" used early CGI (which it didn't, as everything was done in camera). He also calls "Streets of Fire" awful which can be considered a controversial stance.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

Trailer (1:43)
The original US trailer with narration to sell the comical aspect of the film is presented here. The trailer has also been embedded below, from Universal.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

Umbrella Entertainment first released "Repo Man" on Blu-ray in 2012 which ported all the extras from the US DVD, with the three featurettes, the commentary, and the trailer. It had the 5.1 remix but lacked the original mono. The 2023 Umbrella release ports all those extras, offers additional extras, two versions of the film and has both 5.1 and original mono audio options. There are a few exclusive extras found on other Blu-ray releases though. The UK release has the isolated score track and the North American release has some exclusive interviews.

Other notable clips:

A clip from the film, from Umbrella Entertainment

A TV spot, from Umbrella Entertainment

Music video for "Institutionalized" (1984) by Suicidal Tendencies which was featured in the film and also includes the generic Ralphs Supermarket products also seen in "Repo Man"

Siskel & Ebert's review of "Repo Man"

"Three Reasons", from The Criterion Collection

A clip of Iggy Pop's interview on meeting Alex Cox, from The Criterion Collection

A conversation with Alex Cox and Mark Kermode


The disc is packaged in a keep case with unique artwork that mimic the generic products seen in the film itself, with "movie" printed in the center, with the same blue font and stripe on white background. The rear also has the same color scheme though it has screenshots and full information. The cover is reversible, with the opposite side having original poster artwork. The first 1500 copies also include a slipcase with differing unique artwork, with a comic book style in a green tone that is inspired by the final sequence.

Note the packaging states region B only, though it is actually region ALL.

Umbrella also released a Collector's Edition exclusively at the Umbrella Web Shop limited to 170 copies which also includes the following:
- Custom art slipcase (numbered)
- BEER generic stubby holder
- Radioactive glow in the dark keychain
- "The Repo Code" comic - The story of the movie Repo Man illustrated by Alex Cox
- Replica Original Lobby Cards
- A3 Reversible poster


"Repo Man" is a weird mashup of punk, sci-fi, and existential comedy that shouldn't work, but defies all expectations. It's absurd, it's hilarious, and it's completely unique in its filmmaking and it's easily one of the best of its era. The Umbrella Entertainment Blu-ray is excellent as it includes a number of vintage extras as well as some exclusives, with a great transfer with video and audio. Highly recommended.

The Film: A Video: A- Audio: A Extras: A- Overall: A-


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