Not all 80’s action was kiddie friendly. This darkly comic Sci-Fi movie is utterly punk in an LA Hardcore sense. Alex Cox‘ hugley undervalued gritty genre movie is a personal favourite not just for it’s white hot brilliant soundtrack and the anthem of Iggy’s 80’s output Repo Man. It’s also precisely the type of trash I become a cinematic raccoon for.
This track sounds like it was recorded on a cassette in a bucket (see recent (and or upcoming) Swinging Utters post for reasons that might not be a bad thing). It matches the production values of the film perfectly. Emilo Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton are both magnificent in this crawl through the under belly of a city that doesn’t appear to have an upside. Thinly veiled allegories and real time social commentary rub up alongside music from Black Flag, Fear, The Circle Jerks and Suicidal Tendencies. This is the Hardcore Scene’s own Easy Rider Soundtrack album. As important to LA punk as the Singles Soundtrack is to Grunge or The Crow Soundtrack is to most of my ex-girlfriends. Frank Black did a cracking cover of it too once.
There is a fine and important tradition in movie soundtrack albums capturing a scene and a place in time. If they’re done right they can preserve in amber some of the side quests along with the big names of a moment in time. Kevin Smith did it with Clerks and Mallrats, showing where slacker bled into grunge. The Judgement Night and Spawn albums might not be considered minor classics by most. And yet what they do for Premillennial Numetal and Dance/Rap crossovers will not be forgotten by the Linkin Bizkit Korn Kids in their dotage.
So back to Repo Man. There are people who consider this film less than a five star classic. These people are your mainstream types. They’re not wrong. They’re just incorrect. If you revel in the Roger Corman meets the Ramones world where Kiss Meets The Phantom is an acceptable Saturday night movie. This is for you. Cox’s reputation is built on giving you Sid & Nancy, Straight To Hell (basically A Fistful Of Travelers Cheques starring Joe Strummer, Courtney Love and Elvis Costello) and a bunch of cool music documentaries that blur the narrative via the directors involvement with the bands. If that’s your Saturday Night then Repoman is Christmas Day.
*SFTD Movie Trivia Factoid: Straight To Hell is officially a remake of one of the Django Kill series of films. Django Kill… If You Live, Shoot! May go down as one of those movie names that basically gives you the plot but I think we can all agree there should be no Melon Farming snakes on this Burger Flipping plane in the first place. Perhaps I should start a Spaghetti Western Website too. I just love that stuff.
From the same year as yesterdays record breaking blockbuster, Repo Man had to work hard after it’s release to wash it’s face. The studio who owned Cox’s masterpeice were unsure of it’s viability. It got a limited release which dwindled unpromoted and hidden in only three US cities. For 18 months it was only viewable in one solitary cinema in New York or on VHS. Still it managed to return 400K in ticket sales over it’s 70k budget. Imagine the condition of that fleapits print after screening it over and over for a year and a half. There was a sequel written. It found it’s way to the world decades later as a graphic novel (kinda perfect really) called Waldo’s Hawaiian Holiday. There is also a spiritual reimagining with Cox directing the Paris Hilton cypher Pixxie De La Chase played by Jaclyn Jonet. Repo Chick is very much the Highlander II molests Escape From LA in an alley resulting in a messy disappointment that you’d expect. Again, kinda perfect really.
“Do you ever experience the feeling that you might just be created by a mad scientists as part of a table top experiment?”