Repo Man appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. I felt pleased with this pretty positive presentation.
Sharpness was good. A little softness occasionally crept into some wider shots, but those problems were minor. The majority of the movie featured nice definition and delineation. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes were absent. With an appropriate layer of grain, I didn’t sense any oppressive digital noise reduction, and print flaws failed to mar the film.
Colors were fairly accurate and well-defined. They never seemed very bold or bright but they fit the film's scheme and were acceptably realistic without any signs of noise or bleeding. Black levels were solid and dark, and shadow detail looked fine; even a red-lit bar scene still managed nice clarity. I didn’t expect much from an aging indie flick, the transfer served the film well.
When we moved to the film’s monaural soundtrack, it showed its age but usually sounded fine. Dialogue was pretty good, as the lines remained natural and concise throughout the film; any edginess or other flaws remained mild.
Music wasn’t particularly bold, but the score and songs showed reasonable clarity and vivacity. Effects seemed clean and without notable distortion; though they didn’t have much kick, they reproduced the material well. While nothing here dazzled, the mix held up well for a 29-year-old mono track.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the 2006 Collector’s Edition DVD? Audio differed substantially, as the DVD included a 5.1 remix. It worked surprisingly well, but I can’t say I missed it; I prefer to go with the original audio, so I’m happy to stick with the mono track found here.
Visuals were a less equivocal area. Though the DVD seemed good, the Blu-ray was more accurate and dynamic. It demonstrated a solid improvement over the old DVD.
Created for the original DVD from 2000, we get an audio commentary with director/writer Alex Cox, executive producer Michael Nesmith, casting director Victoria Thomas, and actors Sy Richardson, Zander Schloss, and Del Zamora. All of them sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion. Overall, this is a fairly interesting and enjoyable track that provides some decent information about the film
Cox probably dominates the proceedings, but all participants get in their two cents and the track seems fairly balanced. The commentary appears somewhat scattered at times and it lacks much focus, which is usually the case with multiple-participant tracks; the extra contributors may add variety, but the piece becomes less cohesive as a whole.
The Repo Man commentary delves into a fair amount of nostalgic comments, and the participants also spend a lot of time simply enjoying the movie; many probably have not seen it in years and they clearly had a good time as they watched it. Some people find that kind of atmosphere enjoyable and contagious, but I don't like tracks where "that's a great scene!" and laughter overwhelm the proceedings; when I screen commentaries, I want to learn information about the film and not just listen to strangers giggle. However, this track offers enough of interest to overcome those flaws for the most part, and it made for a generally enjoyable listen.
Under Plate o’ Shrimp, we find interviews with musician Keith Morris and actors Dick Rude, Olivia Barash and Miguel Sandoval. The piece lasts 19 minutes, 19 seconds and features the participants individually. We learn about the film’s roots and development, the punk scene’s influence on the movie, characters and performances, music, and some other aspects of the shoot. The piece comes together well to bring us a bunch of fun stories and notes.
Musician Iggy Pop receives his own 11-minute, 57-second interview. Pop discusses a little about his life/career as well as his involvement in Repo Man. Iggy gives us a charming, enjoyable chat.
Another 2005 piece, producer Peter McCarthy sits with actor Harry Dean Stanton in Harry Zen Stanton. It fills 21 minutes, 21 seconds and mostly gets into Stanton’s philosophical thoughts. He babbles about these ideas and only occasionally touches on movies. At one point we even have to suffer through a rendition of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”. Argh – what a waste of time.
In the 25-minute and 31-second Repossessed from 2005, we hear from Cox and producers Peter McCarthy and Jonathan Wacks. They sit around a kitchen table and chat about the efforts to get the film made, casting and performances, research and adapting those notes into the script, the movie’s political elements and tone, photography and shooting in LA, various scenes and alternate endings, and thoughts about attempts at a sequel.
We also get comments from Zamora, Richardson and Rude, but the three guys at the table heavily dominate. The program lacks coherence as it bops from one topic to another. Nonetheless, it includes some good insights. At least it comes as a relief after the Stanton piece.
Finally, The Missing Scenes runs 25 minutes and 11 seconds. Cox chats with Nesmith, neutron bomb inventor Sam Cohen, and movie character J. Frank Parnell as they watch a mix of deleted scenes in Cox’s “quest to find the meaning of Repo Man”. That’s an odd framework for a collection of cut sequences, and not one that adds much to the proceedings. Actually, I like Cox’s interactions with Cohen, but a more straightforward presentation of the clips would work better.
For something unusual, we go to The TV Version. As described on the disc’s menu, “it incorporates outtakes and unused scenes, employs differently looped dialogue to replace profanity, and removes all instances of drug use.” The “TV Version” runs one hour, 36 minutes, 54 seconds – more than four minutes longer than the theatrical cut.
The dialogue changes are as laughable as one might expect; “flipping” doesn’t become a convincing substitute for the “F word”, and the looped lines don’t mesh well with the original speech. The infamous use of “melon farmer” for a 12-letter term that uses “M” and “F” is as hilarious as one might expect.
As for the additional/alternate footage, we get a few moderately interesting scenes. For instance, we find an extended repo scene during Bud’s training of Otto, and we also see Bud trash a phone booth. Another gives us a longer segment from the gas station, as Parnell tells Kevin about the wonders of vended food.
None of these added scenes make Repo Man a better film. They’re enjoyable in their own right, but the movie works fine without them. Fans will be happy to view them, but the smattering of omissions – like the loss of Bud and Otto snorting coke – combined with the absurd looping ensures that the TV Version will always remain nothing more than a curiosity.
In addition to two trailers, the set gives us a few paper materials. We find a 68-page booklet with an essay by critic Sam McPheeters, an “illustrated production history” by Alex Cox, and an interview between Cox and “real repo man” Mark Lewis. It’s a high-quality addition to the set.
Repo Man continues to provide an entertaining and fun experience. It's a rough piece of work but it seems interesting and clever nonetheless. The Blu-ray provides solid picture and audio along with a generally useful set of supplements. This becomes the best home video version of the cult classic.
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