Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Repo Man (1984)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Repo Man (1984)

In director/scriptwriter Alex Cox's off-beat, debut cult film with a punk/New Wave sensibility - a hybrid sci-fi black comedy crime film, was about car repossession in Los Angeles and possible extra-terrestrials - with many of the characters named after beer brands, for example: Bud, Miller, Oly, and Lite:

  • in the film's classic opening sequence - J. Frank Parnell (Fox Harris), the driver of a dilapidated 1964 Chevy Malibu sedan, was on a journey from Los Alamos, NM (a famed site for secret nuclear research) to California's Mojave Desert; he was pulled over by a highway motorcycle patrol officer who asked: "What you got in the trunk?"; when the cop opened the trunk, despite warnings ("You don't wanna look in there"), he was immediately vaporized by a nuclear blast down to his semi-melted, smoking leather boots - it suggested an iconic 'Holy Grail' existence of a glowing white-light thing (a weapons-grade plutonium, radioactive neutron bomb or the remains of four dead aliens?); he continued his drive to Los Angeles - to the sound of an Iggy Pop tune
  • the film's central teenaged character punk rocker Otto Maddox (Emilio Estevez) was introduced in Los Angeles, CA; he was a nihilistic, disaffected grocery store stock clerk fired by his boss Mr. Humphries (Charles Hopkins) for insubordination at his job after he had become aggravated that his nerdy, simpleton co-worker Kevn (Zander Schloss) was annoyingly singing a 7-Up jingle; soon after, Debbi (Jennifer Balgobin), Otto's punk-rock girlfriend, dumped him at a raucous party to hook up with his recently-released ex-con friend Duke (Dick Rude) as her new sex partner
Otto Maddox (Emilio Estevez) and Bud (Harry Dean Stanton)
  • the disillusioned, frustrated and unemployed Otto was offered $25 by laid-back, master repo-man Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) as he wandered in a dangerous Hispanic neighborhood in LA, to assist him by driving his sick and pregnant 'wife's' car and following him; Otto realized he had been tricked and swindled when the car's true Hispanic owner gave chase; they ended up at the offices of the Helping Hand Acceptance Corporation (a predatory 'repossession' car company that seized cars from delinquent debtors)
  • although Otto initially turned down work to become an apprentice 'repo-man' ("Screw that! I'm gonna be no repo man") with world-weary Bud, he changed his mind when he discovered that his ex-hippie, stoned-out marijuana-smoking parents, (Jonathon Hugger and Sharon Gregg) living in Edge City, had given his graduation money reward (of $1,000) to crooked, right-wing tele-evangelist Reverend Larry (Bruce White) to send Bibles to El Salvador: (Father: "It was a gift from all of us, jointly"); Otto's new job co-workers became his new 'family' of sorts - with a number of eccentric characters who shared a certain camaraderie
  • Bud, who was becoming Otto's surrogate father figure, described the "Repo Code" of honor while snorting speed with Otto: "Never broke into a car. Never hot-wired a car, kid. I never broke into a trunk. I shall not cause harm to any vehicle nor the personal contents thereof. Nor through inaction let that vehicle or the personal contents thereof come to harm. That's what I call the Repo Code, kid. Don't forget it - etch it in your brain. Not many people got a code to live by anymore"; then he added: "See an ordinary person spends his life avoiding tense situations. Repo man spends his life getting into tense situations"
  • in a side plot, Otto's repo-company employer Helping Hand was competing with a rival used car sales lot owned by the hated Rodriguez Brothers (Lagarto (Del Zamora) and Napoleon "Napo" (Eddie Velez)); the two repo-agent swindlers sold Helping Hand's repossessed car at low prices (with high interest rates) in order to keep the turn-over rate of repo-cars high
  • while driving a repossessed coar, Otto picked up activist Leila (Olivia Barash) who worked at the United Fruitcake Outlet - she was part of a secret underground network of renegades who believed in the existence of ETs or extraterrestrials and life in outer space; after showing Otto a cryptic photograph she had in her possession, she claimed that there were bodies of four radioactive dead aliens being smuggled from the Los Alamos AF base in the trunk of the Chevy Malibu driven by one of the base's scientists; she and the network were conducting a search for the car and the aliens ("We gotta find them"), and were preparing a press conference to tell the world; a $20,000 bounty 'wanted notice' went out for the Malibu from the renegade underground network - the reward for locating the car (and its trunk's contents)
Search for the Malibu, and the Aliens in the Trunk of the Car

Leila (Olivia Barash) - Believer in ETs

$20,000 Bounty for Chevy Malibu

Picture of Dead Aliens in Tabloid
  • spaced-out, screwy Miller delivered a bizarre philosophical monologue about a "lattice of coincidence" while burning clothes in a trash barrel with Otto: "A lot o' people don't realize what's really going on. They view life as a bunch o' unconnected incidents 'n things. They don't realize that there's this, like, lattice o' coincidence that lays on top o' everything. Give you an example; show you what I mean: suppose you're thinkin' about a plate o' shrimp. Suddenly somebody'll say, like, plate, or shrimp, or plate o' shrimp out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin' for one, either. It's all part of a cosmic unconciousness"; he went on to include other elements that were tied together, including the Bermuda Triangle, UFOs, flying saucers and spaceships, and time machines; he ended by summarizing: "People get so hung up on specifics. They miss out on seeing the whole thing"; he also stated his preference for transportation - the bus: ("The more you drive, the less intelligent you are")
  • the sickened lunatic Los Alamos scientist Parnell - who was driving the Chevy Malibu arrived in LA, where he was scheduled to meet other UFO compatriots; however, weakened (and vomiting) by the radioactivity when he stopped for gas, the car quickly changed hands a few times - it was first seized by the predatory repo Rodriguez Brothers; then the trio of Otto's thieving punk friends (liquor store thieves Otto's ex-girlfriend Debbi, Duke, and Archie (Miguel Sandoval)) stole the parked car; Parnell came upon his car and tricked the punks into opening the trunk (Duke burned his hand, but Archie was entirely incinerated), and then was able to reclaim the car; Duke and Debbi went off to commit more crimes: (Duke: "Let's go get sushi and not pay") as Parnell again took possession of his car
  • in an outdoor scene at Helping Hands, Miller told his beer-drinking buddies (who disagreed with him): "John Wayne was a fag...He was, too, you boys. I installed two-way mirrors in his pad in Brentwood, and he come to the door in a dress"
  • a frantic search for the car was conducted by many competing groups: Otto and Bud (and their Helping Hand colleagues including Miller (Tracey Walter), Oly (Tom Finnegan), and black man Lite (Sy Richardson)), the Rodriguez Brothers, Leila who was kidnapped by government agents and then cooperated with eccentric alien-seeker Agent Rogersz (Susan Barnes) with a metal left hand, and the trio of crime-obsessed punks (now reduced to Duke and Debbi)
  • on his own, Otto chased down lobotomized "loonie" Parnell (whose mind was 'eroding') and was offered a hitched ride in the Malibu; during the trip, Otto was told about Parnell's tormented scientist 'friend' who invented the neutron bomb and requested a lobotomy after realizing the consequences of nuclear war: ("Radiation, yes indeed! You hear the most outrageous lies about it. Half-baked goggle-boxed do-gooders telling everybody it’s bad for you. Pernicious nonsense! Everybody could stand a hundred chest X-rays a year. They ought to have 'em, too. When they canceled the project, it almost did me in. One day my mind was literally a-burst. The next day nothing. Swept away. But I showed them. I had a lobotomy in the end....Friend of mine had one. Designer of the neutron bomb. You ever hear of the neutron bomb? Destroys people - leaves buildings standing. Fits in a suitcase. It's so small, no one knows it's there until - BLAMMO. Eyes melt, skin explodes, everybody dead. So immoral, working on the thing can drive you mad. That's what happened to this friend of mine. So he had a lobotomy. Now he's well again")
  • soon after, Parnell passed out and died from radiation sickness due to prolonged exposure; Otto dragged his body out of the car and drove back to the Helping Hand lot; after Otto parked the Malibu there and locked the gate, Bud restole and then hid the car
  • in the film's crazed and climactic conclusion - consisting of many twists and turns regarding the car's possession (when many of the characters reconverged, including government agents led by Agent Rogersz, the repo-men, and even the Bible-waving televangelist), Bud was located in a hospital room (after being shot in the head during one of the punk robberies in a liquor store), but escaped capture by the agents
  • all of the activity soon was located back at the Helping Hand's repossession lot where Bud had returned and was reunited with Otto; as Bud defiantly sat in the glowing bright green Malibu, Otto warned him to be sensible: "Only an asshole gets killed over a car"; the defiant Bud, who attempted to defend his claim to the car, was machine-gunned by a sniper-agent in a circling helicopter and then died in Otto's arms
Bud in the Glowing Malibu in Helping Hand Lot
Bud Machine-Gunned
  • the Malibu (with sparks) emitted a mysterious, blinding light force field (a parody of the climax of Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)), and held back or incinerated even those wearing flame-retardant Hazmat suits who tried to get close; the tele-evangelist's Bible was struck by sparks and burst into flames

Bright Green Malibu

Miller at the Wheel

Glowing and Levitating Car

Otto's Wide-Eyed Amazement

The Speeding Car

Cosmic Ride
  • in the film's final moments, Helping Hand mechanic Miller (a believer in aliens - a time traveler?) was easily able to slide behind the wheel to go for a "spin"; he summoned Otto to join him as a passenger; Otto left the dying Bud and also ignored Leila who claimed they had a "relationship" (Otto: "F--k that!"); during a euphoric, cosmic drive for both Miller and Otto, the car miraculously levitated, sped away across the LA skyline, and then blasted into interplanetary outer space
  • the ending credits scrolled downwards instead of upwards

Cop: "What you got in the trunk?"

Cop Disintegrated and Vaporized

Cop's Melted and Smoking Boots

Otto's Stoned-Out Ex-Hippie Parents

Crooked Tele-Evangelist Rev. Larry

Bud's Recitation of "Repo Code"

Government Agent Rogersz (Susan Barnes)

Miller's Monologue About Cosmic Unconsciousness

Miller: "John Wayne was a fag..."

Duke - One of Punks (with Debbi) Tricked into Opening Malibu Car Trunk, Burned His Hand

Archie Incinerated

Parnell's Story (to Otto) About His Lobotomized Scientist Friend

Parnell Dying From Radiation, Dragged From Car by Otto

Hazmat-Suited Gov't Agents Couldn't Get Near the Car

The Tele-Evangelist


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