Repo Man (1984) Movie Trivia: A Cosmic Unconsciousness of Oddities

Repo Man (1984) Movie Trivia: A Cosmic Unconsciousness of Oddities
Repo Man (1984) Facts and Trivia

Delve into the quirky, bizarre, and downright weird trivia surrounding the 1984 cult classic 'Repo Man'. This offbeat sci-fi comedy, directed by Alex Cox, is a veritable treasure trove of behind-the-scenes anecdotes, strange occurrences, and unexpected connections that make it a truly unique cinematic experience. Buckle up and get ready to explore the cosmic unconsciousness that permeates every aspect of this film.

The Glowing, Teleportation-Enabling 1964 Chevy Malibu

When filming began, the crew only had one 1964 Chevy Malibu at their disposal. Unfortunately, it was stolen just a couple of days into production, forcing the team to scramble to find a replacement. As luck would have it, the original car was recovered by the police undamaged shortly after they found a substitute. This fortunate timing saved them from further headaches, as it wasn't long before Fox Harris, who played Parnell, accidentally ploughed one of the Malibus into a gasoline pump. If you look closely during the carwash scene, you'll notice a severely dented gas pump - the one Harris had rammed in a previous take.

Repo Man 1984 Trivia

This low-budget solution gave the Malibu its otherworldly, cosmic vibe without breaking the bank.

Cinematic Tensions and Tempers Flare

Harry Dean Stanton, who played the gruff repo man Bud, was no stranger to on-set tensions. In one scene, he wanted to give a "baseball-type signal" to Emilio Estevez, but Cox - a notorious sports-hater - refused the suggestion. According to Cox's DVD commentary, Stanton lost his cool, exclaiming:

"I've worked with the greatest directors of all time. Francis Ford Coppola. Monte Hellman. You know why they're great? Because they let me do whatever the f*ck I wanted!"

Stanton's general moodiness and constant grumbling about money prompted Cox to consider writing him out of the film altogether, giving his remaining scenes to Lite (played by Sy Richardson). Fortunately, Michael Nesmith vetoed this plan, allowing Stanton to remain in the picture - though it certainly didn't improve his temperament.

Harry Dean Stanton and Emilio Estevez

Things reached a boiling point during a scene where Bud brandishes a bat at the Rodriguez brothers. Stanton insisted on using a real wooden baseball bat, much to the horror of cinematographer Robby Müller. After a near-miss where Müller felt the wind of the bat pass over his face, he demanded that all actors use plastic bats. Stanton was furious, screaming, "Harry Dean Stanton only uses REAL baseball bats." A literal tug-of-war ensued over the bat, eventually resolved when a quick-witted production assistant swapped out the wooden bat for a plastic one.

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Punk Rock Connections and Musical Influences

Zander Schloss, who played the nerdy Kevin, ended up joining the punk band Circle Jerks after production wrapped. The band appears in the movie as the lounge act that Otto "can't believe [he] used to like."

Alex Cox had to personally visit Iggy Pop at his apartment to explain the movie and request a song for the soundtrack. Iggy's career was going through a rough patch at the time, and he needed both money and breathing space. Cox's offer of creative carte blanche was a gift from God, as Iggy himself put it: "It was like a gift from God to express myself."

The song Otto sings while drinking beer after walking away from the train tracks is "TV Party" by Black Flag. And the preacher's scrambled voice when Asimov uses a "coding device" to talk to Leila is actually someone reciting a poem from Alice In Wonderland backwards.

Bizarre Props and Low-Budget Ingenuity

Many of the film's props and special effects were the result of makeshift, low-budget solutions. The photo of the "aliens" that Leila shows to Otto, which some viewers thought depicted sausages, was actually condoms filled with water and dressed in grass shirts by J. Rae Fox and Lynda Burbank.

The film's aesthetic was influenced by underground comics of the '60s and '70s, particularly the work of Robert Crumb and Gilbert Shelton. The Rodriguez brothers were modelled after Shelton's Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.

Due to the film's tight budget, the producers were unable to create a convincing cybernetic, metallic arm for Agent Rogers. Instead, her arm in the film appears to be nothing more than a glove made out of metallic-threaded cloth, confusing many viewers as to why other characters were so fascinated by her "glove."

Accidents, Mishaps, and On-Set Chaos

Fox Harris couldn't drive a car, a complication that led to many composite and body double shots becoming necessary. On his first day on set, he promptly drove his car into a bridge. Subsequent scenes made him so nervous that he would break out into hives. The opening scene with the motorcycle cop on the desert highway was one such composite, made up of shots completed on different days, with Cox doubling Harris where necessary, and Cox's bike mechanic Varnum Honey playing the cop.

During the chaotic hail scene at the end of the film, two crew members stood on a plank, dropping ice into the frame out of buckets to create the effect.

The filmmakers hadn't secured a complete location for the repo office, so production designers J. Rae Fox and Lynda Burbank had to build an office out of scratch on an empty lot. Many of the film's special effects were quick, makeshift fixes like this one.

Cosmic Coincidences and Influences

Miller talks about the cosmic unconsciousness: "You'll be thinking about a plate of shrimp, and all of a sudden someone will say plate, or shrimp, or plate of shrimp." Later, the two Latinos who've stolen the "Asimov" car park outside a diner with a huge sign in one of its windows reading: PLATE O' SHRIMP $2.95.

Bud states his 'repo code' as a paraphrase of Isaac Asimov's First Law of Robotics: "A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm." Lite also gives Otto a book called "DIORETIX" to "help change your life," a reference to L. Ron Hubbard's "Dianetics."

There are allusions to William S. Burroughs' novel "Naked Lunch," with mentions of "Paging Dr. Benway" in the hospital and Bill Lee.

Other Fascinating Trivia Tidbits

  • All the repo men (except Otto) are named after beers.
  • When Lite and Otto are working together, they break every rule of Bud's "repo code."
  • Lance Henriksen was a front-runner for the part of the lobotomized driver of the Chevy Malibu. Dennis Hopper was considered for the role of Bud, but his erratic behaviour ultimately made him unsuitable.
  • All cars (plus the police motorcycle) have pine tree air fresheners, just like Miller says when Otto drops off his first repossessed car.
  • The company that makes the "xmas tree" air fresheners was one of the sponsors of the movie.
  • An alternate ending had the entire city being annihilated in a nuclear explosion.
  • Ranked #7 on Entertainment Weekly's "Top 50 Cult Films of All-Time."
  • On the commentary, Alex Cox and the other cast and crew cite the "John Wayne was a fag" scene as their favorite moment of the film. The story was based on one that Cox was told about Wayne.
  • Edge City, the name of the production company and the destination on the front of the bus Otto takes to his parents' house, is also the U.S. title of director Alex Cox's first film, Sleep Is for Sissies (1980).
  • The concept of the smoking boots remaining after the Chevy Malibu's trunk disintegrates the Police Officer and Archie was lifted directly from Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann (1982), which was co-written by Repo Man's executive producer Michael Nesmith.
Emilio Estevez in Repo Man 1984

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Casting Tidbits

  • Sy Richardson was originally called in to audition for a bit part, but Cox was so impressed that he gave him the larger role of Lite instead.
  • Victoria Thomas' friend introduced her to Emilio Estevez after his manager refused to meet with her.
  • Fox Harris was already on Cox's radar, since he was the only actor nice to the filmmaker when he worked as a caretaker at the Actor's Studio in LA. When Stanton suggested him for Parnell, Cox jumped at the idea.

Low Budget Woes

  • Production designers had to build the repo office set from scratch on an empty lot, since they hadn't secured a complete location.
  • Olivia Barash revealed her agent told her not to audition for "this movie by no-name people" that was "never going to do anything." She went against his advice.
  • The crew could only afford one camera operator to start - Robert Richardson, whose first feature film work this was before becoming a very successful cinematographer.

Repo Man was a production as unconventional and oddball as the cult film itself. Obstacles were tackled with clever improvisation, turning challenges into memorable cinema. Outlandish anecdotes are woven throughout - Stanton's fiery outbursts, Iggy's creative renaissance, makeshift sets, and serendipitous accidents. Surprising links materialise, like the movie's echoes of Asimov's robot laws and its roots in underground comics.

And now, director Alex Cox is steering back into this zany, extraterrestrial world of automotive repossession. Titled Repo Man 2: The Wages of Beer, Cox's self-written and directed sequel is currently being pitched to buyers at the Berlin Film Festival. It's an enticing chance to dive back into the mad, offbeat universe Cox originally crafted nearly four decades prior.

Repo Man keeps delivering bizarre trivia to fans in abundance. From its humble roots through its enduring cult recognition, and now a sequel on the horizon, the film is characterized by peculiarities both behind the scenes and in the final cut. Like that cosmic plate of shrimp, it seems fated to remain just as curiously captivating in the making-of tales as in the finished product.

Source: Imdb , Wiki, AV Club