I love this film and I loved Harry Dean. My team has this one covered, so I’ll keep my introduction short. Perhaps one of the best punk movies of all time, the spirit of this film is embodies in the late great Mr. Stanton. 91 years ain’t too shabby, but we’re sad to see him go. Goodbye Harry, we all miss you already!
BLAINE MCLAREN: “Ordinary fucking people, I hate ’em”.
This has always been one of my favorite quotes and was (almost) my motto when I was a moody teen. Now that I am a moody adult I say it less, but it still pops into my head everyday when I interact with my peers. As you might have already figured out I love Repo Man and I was sad to hear about the passing of acting great Harry Dean Stanton. Repo Man holds a special place in my heart (mainly) because I found it in my early teens, along with punk rock and weed. This trio of vice and rebellion gave me a language and appreciation for weirdo cinema and turned me on to a lot of the stuff that I still cherish to this day.
If you are reading this, then you probably know what the movie is about…So I’m not gong to waste your time with details. Instead, I am going to keep talking about how fucking rad it is. In the old video store days there was always a wall that said “Cult Movies”. This wall was like church to me and I still remember grabbing Repo Man off that shelf. My buddy Tim and I threw the movie in and just absorbed every line and went on to quote it every day. We would drive around listening to The Circle Jerks, smoke cigarettes and tossed the lines back-and-forth. This is a highly personal film to me and love that it has never lost its cult status. If we are lucky, this film will continue to live on through rebellious teens and the memories of disappointed adults (like me).
RIP Harry Dean Stanton and thanks for the all the great movies and memories!
Welcome back this week a special guest! Brendan Foley is becoming a regular fixture on this column, it seems. Of course, we welcome his awesomeness! He organizes a weekly film club on Cinapse called Two Cents that Justin also regularly contributes to (as a member of the Cinapse staff, himself). He hosts a kickass creepy story podcast called Black Sun Dispatches and likes to make snide remarks about Justin’s well established shitty taste in films.
After you’re done reading this and checking out the Cinapse Two Cents piece linked above, be sure to check out Brendan’s podcast!
Repo Man may not represent the peak of Harry Dean Stanton’s illustrious, decade-spanning career (for that you’d have to go to Paris, Texas), but Repo Man beautifully captures the laconic charisma that Stanton could wield so well. He’s an unrepentant asshole, and proud of it, and somehow that just makes you love him even more.
Repo Man is sloppy and shaggy, but those don’t feel like negatives with Alex Cox behind the camera. The hazy flow feels right for this world where the youth are disaffected and the adults are either hollowed refugees from the hippie era or glad-handing Reagan-acolytes. There’s a note of real anger and despair thrumming underneath the wacky, and it lends what could have been a curiosity some real teeth.
Still not sure about Gordon Bombay as a punk, though.
RACHAEL HAUSCHILD: I remember putting this movie off for the longest time. I couldn’t tell you why I put it off for so long. One day, someone told me “Watch Repo Man, one of your favorite actors is in it!”. I looked up the cast list on IMDB and low and behold, there his name was… Harry Dean Stanton.
My introduction to Harry Dean Stanton was through Pretty in Pink. Seeing him in that one role made me an instant fan. He has such a memorable voice and on-screen demeanor. In Repo Man, he shows this same ease in acting like he does the rest of his roles.
Repo Man is a trip, and a good one at that. The cast is perfect, the soundtrack is wonderful, and the story is wild but a lot of fun. One of my favorite things is the neon green strewn throughout the movie, and every time the ‘alien’ is around you hear that squirmy little jingle. This movie is funny half the time and serious the rest and I wouldn’t change that for the world.
To me, Harry Dean Stanton is the best part of this movie. He goes from this guy in everyday life doing what he’s got to do to make a living, to a guy who plays a father figure to Emilio Estevez’s character, Otto. Stanton’s character’s name is Bud, and that what he also feels like through the film. He feels like a friend, confidant, a bud. Not to mention he delivers one of my favorite lines in the movie: “Look at those assholes, ordinary fucking people, I hate ‘em.”
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, that Harry Dean Stanton is one of the best character actors to grace the screen. He worked up until he was 91 years old, and he still had it. His acting came so naturally and it’s so nice to see him in movies. You’ll be sorely missed Mr. Stanton. Thank you for all the memories.
LUKE TIPTON: “I don’t want no commies in my car. No Christians either.”
Alex Cox writes and directs. Emilio Estevez is its young star, but Harry Dean Stanton owns this film. He’s Bud, the titular repo man, a chain-smoking, speed-bumping misanthrope, who takes Estevez’s Otto under his wing, and teaches him the tricks of the trade, jumping repossessed cars. Bud’s a predatory low life, making a living by victimizing people exploited by capitalism. It’s a vicious little circle and it’s taken a toll on his soul, but he’s got his code. There’s something that almost seems almost noble about him, although that’s probably just because he’s a good bullshitter.
Stanton was always magnetic in every role, but this is the movie that cemented his reputation as the “cool old guy”. The guy with one foot in the 1960s counterculture New Hollywood movement, and the other as a father figure to the next generation of punks and rebels.
I love everything about this movie. I love endlessly quotable dialogue. I love the anonymous generic brands on display in all the stores, a wry smart-dumb satire of dehumanizing consumerism. I love the way it cross-pollinates the plot of Kiss Me Deadly with the LA punk culture like it was the most natural thing in the world.
“Ordinary fucking people; I hate ‘em”
Goodbye, Harry Dean Stanton. You will not be forgotten.