Alex Coxís cult flick Repo Man is presented on Blu-ray by Criterion in Coxís preferred aspect ratio of 1.78:1 on a dual-layer disc. The film is delivered in a new high-definition digital transfer presented in 1080p/24hz.
Other than catching it on cable I had only seen the film previously through Anchor Bayís Limited Edition tin release on DVD, the presentation of which was nothing to write home about. I havenít seen any other DVD editions released since (or Masters of Cinemaís Blu-ray edition) so Iím not entirely sure how the other editions have presented it, but Criterionís is certainly a revelation. I never imagined this film could look so good.
In my head I still remember it with that cruddy VHS/cable look, which actually seemed to suit the film in a way. The look here is so much more natural and clean, far more filmic with bright colours, rich blacks, clean, sharp edges, and an astounding amount of detail. Film grain is present and looks mostly natural while print damage has been just about scrubbed away. I detected some noise in some dark areas of the screen at moments but these instances are easy to overlook. The rest of the transfer doesnít seem to present any noticeable problems.
In all itís a sharp improvement over the previous versions I had seen and it will be a true delight for fans of the film. 8/10
All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.
There is quite a bit of material on here, though unfortunately there isnít much here that is new.
In fact the audio commentary is the exact same one that appeared on the Anchor Bay edition and has been carried over to every other release of the film since. It features director Alex Cox, producer Michael Nesmith, casting director Victoria Thomas, actor Sy Richardson, and musicians/actors Zander Schloss and Del Zamora. All participants were recorded together. The track is a rather entertaining and funny recollection of the film and its development. There is of course a lot of information about its development, which is absolutely fascinating (and covered quite a bit throughout the set,) the filmís humour and satire, the punk scene, and many share stories about working with the other actors in the film, particularly Tracey Walter. I hadnít listened to it since first hearing it on the Anchor Bay DVD but have always had a pleasant memory. Revisiting it I was pleased to find it was still the fun track I recall. For any fan of the film who has not yet listened to it (which is probably unlikely) itís certainly worth listening to.
Criterion includes a couple of new features, starting with Plate Oí Shrimp, which features interviews with actors Dick Rude, Olivia Barash, and Miguel Sandoval, and musician Keith Morris. While thereís some discussion about the filmís development (including Rude expressing his disappointment that the part of Otto, originally given to him, went to Estevez) the 19-minute interview segment concentrates more on the filmís presentation of punk culture, the music in the film, and the surprise success of the filmís soundtrack (which also managed to save the film.) Criterion also devotes an entire feature to a new interview with Iggy Pop, who covers his involvement with the film and coming up with the filmís title song, telling it all in his own odd way (itís obviously been edited down so Iím sure he rambled on quite a bit at times.) Both are excellent additions on Criterionís part, focusing on the filmís music and punk aspect, something the other features (all pulled from other editions) surprisingly lack.
Repossessed is carried over from Universalís 2006 DVD edition and it is a 25-minute round-table discussion between director Cox and producers Peter McCarthy and Jonathan Wacks. The three talk about how they were able to get Michael Nesmith to come on board and get Universal interested, along with recalling some of the sacrifices they had to make (or thankfully avoid) to get the flick made. Inserted in here are quick interviews with Dick Rude, Sy Richardson, and Del Zamora, who seem to be there to verify something mentioned by the group. The group also covers how hard it would probably be to make the film today, talk about the idea of a sequel, and also talk about the filmís original ending, which they were pretty much forced to change. There is some repetition but itís another completely enjoyable addition.
Following this (and also carried over from the Universal DVD) is the surprisingly philosophical interview with Harry Dean Stanton, entitled Harry Zen Stanton. The 21-minute interview proves to be the most fascinating feature on the disc, yet has very little to do with Repo Man. Stanton and the interviewer talk about various subjects ranging everywhere from the films he has worked on to Marlon Brando to fate, where Stanton gets into how everything is pre-determined and thereís nothing one person can do about it. The two get it into a mild argument about the war in Iraq before they sing ďRow Row Your BoatĒ together, and in an amusing moment Stanton becomes offended where the interviewer states he sounds like Pat Robertson (ďThat idiot!?Ē Stanton cries.) Itís absolutely fabulous and very honest, and Iím surprised something like this was even included on a studio DVD.
Also from that Universal DVD is the wonderfully odd The Missing Scenes, a 25-minute segment devoted to alternate, deleted, and extended scenes. Cox and gang talk about the alternate ending that was never filmed and then we move on to Cox speaking with Sam Cohen, the inventor of the neutron bomb. He then goes on to watch a number of deleted scenes with him, where the two then discuss whether the scene was rightfully cut (Cohen doesnít always think so.) The scenes all appear to come from different sources since a few scenes are in stunning condition, looking to be presented in high-definition, while others are presented in low grade VHS quality. The material is interesting to watch and most of it is good, but I think I was more entertained by the whacky presentation of the scenes more than the scenes themselves.
And finally there is the The TV Version of the film, which was put together by Cox himself. The version of course cuts out all swearing (replacing certain phrases with some bizarre but funny alternatives) drug use, sex references, and moments of violence. It also inserts the placements for commercial breaks. Whatís most interesting, though, is that Cox chose to insert some of the deleted scenes, which actually helps make the TV version longer than the film: it runs 97-minutes, about five more than the feature film. Since this was put together for television it looks as though this was taken from a tape source so the quality isnít too great. Itís also presented in a standard television format. I know this is a version some fans have tried to track down so itís great Criterion actually included it here. Itís funny and entertaining in its own way.
The disc then concludes with a couple of trailers.
We then get a nice, thick 68-page booklet that starts with an essay by Sam McPheeters. Following this is a lengthy ďillustrated essayĒ (I guess you could call it) by Alex Cox called ďThe Repo CodeĒ, which goes over in detail the production of the film and was put together originally for the Masters of Cinema Blu-ray edition. He includes the original comic strip he did at a younger age, script notes, budget notes, dossiers, and so on, going over the various stages of development. Following that we then get the reprint of an interview between Cox, Rude, and Mark Lewis, a real-life repo man who was a huge influence on the film. Overall itís a fantastic booklet, beautifully put together and true to the nature of the film.
Altogether the supplements are fantastic, though again I think fans of the film, who more than likely have owned previous versions, will be disappointed by the little new material Criterion has put together. Still, the supplements are all rather fun and engaging, and itís wonderful to have all of this material together here. 8/10