Repo Man Blu-ray Review
Repo Man comes to UK Blu-ray, courtesy of Eureka’s Masters of Cinema series, with a 1080p resolution encoded using the
AVCcodec and framed within a theatrically correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The disc is locked to Region B.
Definitely the best the film has ever looked on a home format, this transfer has little wrong with it that wasn’t already committed to the original print. The opening shots of the Chevy Malibu being tailed down a dusty stretch of highway show the increased depth, with detail being evident throughout the frame. The sand and rocks close to the camera should be a good litmus test of any problems, and it passes wonderfully.
It never looks a slick production, no new transfer will change that, but now it isn’t just the close-ups that show good detail but also the mid-distance. Providing the lighting is good the detail is there to see and is definitely an improvement on previous
DVDreleases. Shadow detail is still quite low, better, but don’t expect miracles. The scene within the CIAvan for instance has never been a pretty picture, the dark suits struggling in the suffused lighting, and it doesn’t suddenly turn from a frog into a prince here either, but it is at least stable.
The grain structure is pretty even, though a couple of instances indicate noise mixed in there. On the flip side, the steps taken to reduce print damage have been greatly successful, with only a few minor instances still cropping up in a “did I just see a speck” blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fashion. The palette looks a bit lighter and brighter than some may have seen, but it’s consistent and fresh looking, and considering this Blu was overseen by Cox himself I’ll gladly defer to his view of the colour tone.
It’s a solid, clean image that seems to have lifted a light veil to reveal a subtle level of detail. Good contrast combines with this to bring a level of depth that has previously been lacking to many shots.
Two tracks to choose from – English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and another HD Master Audio 2.0 version with only the effects and music (purists only then).
For a 2.0 monaural track, it manages some degree of width and dynamism, but can’t lift itself above its budget roots. I dare say many will want to know whether the score benefits, well it does in parts. Iggy Pop’s Repo Man theme is punchy and vibrant, it really gets you in the mood for the rest of the film, but other instances fail to kick in with the same level of reverberation. It feels churlish to say, we should thank our lucky stars for a lossless (nay, two) track, but you’re left craving a bit of LFE to cut into the deeper notes.
Speech was never the strong suit of the film, a point this Blu-ray remedies to some extent, evening things out to a degree, but never truly solving. It can still waver from dull to slightly sharp in places. When it’s good it’s spot on, it just retains the inconsistencies it always has.
One aspect raised beyond doubt is that of effects, what was previously a flat and fairly uninspiring mix of environmental noises comes to life. Engines purr and gunshots are striking. What you get out of this depends on what you expect, but fans will no doubt appreciate the more rounded quality to the music and far better effects.
The Repo Code - A full colour 44 page booklet created by director Alex Cox all about Repo-ness.
Cox, Michael Nesmith (exec. Producer), Victoria Thomas (casting director) and cast members Sy Richardson (Lite), Zander Schloss (Kevin) and Del Zamora (Lagarto Rodriguez) join to discuss the film and reminisce. Certainly worth a listen, it isn’t revelatory, but it is always good to get the inside scoop on a film that has continually found itself pigeonholed in the “cult” category and thus had less than stellar coverage in terms of retrospective material.
Alex Cox Introduction – 1080p – 10:35
Filmed exclusively for the Masters of Cinema series, Cox casts his eye back to his feature film debut. Always eloquent and never afraid to assess his own career, the writer/director gives us a mini history lesson about how the film came to release and the reaction.
TV Version – 96:34
Cox and Dick Rude’s edit of the film made especially for US television. Deleted and alternate scenes, as well as overdubs to sidestep possible prudish reactions to the more colourful language, this has never been released on a home format before, so obviously is going to be relished by fans. Presented in its broadcast ratio of 1.33:1 and fading in and out when there would’ve been ad-breaks, it’s another treasure that is as indicative of the US market at the time as it is about Cox and Rude’s re-editing skills and the material that didn’t make the original cut. The source isn’t great (a Digibeta from the original analogue master) but who cares.
Repossessed – 1080i – 25:27
Joining Cox to discuss the film are producers Peter McCarthy and Jonathan Wacks, as well as cast members Del Zamora, Sy Richardson and Dick Rude. Another informative feature, highlighting the struggles of small-time film-makers.
The Missing Scenes – 1080i – 25:05
Cox, Nesmith and neutron bomb inventor Sam Cohen (yep, you read that right) talk about film, the bits that didn’t make the cut as well as issues about the science. It’s a bit unstructured, but the extra scenes are definitely of interest, and Cohen and Cox do make for an intriguing pair.
Harry Zen Stanton– 1080i – 21:18
The ageing legend, sat with guitar in hand and fag on the go talks about his life, career, the film and his belief of the predestined. The latter proves the more interesting topic.
Original Theatrical Trailer – 1080p – 1:44
Repo Man is an eclectic off-the-wall experience that no self respecting indie film fan should plead ignorance about. The humour is as dry and observed as it ever was, the characters as zanily iconic and the soundtrack still pulses with energy.
The Region B locked disc is a great example of how to add a bit of spit and polish to an aging budget feature without destroying its identity. The added detail and clarity in the image and lossless tracks bring out a new layer of depth. The extras are often lo-fi in terms of on-the-fly interviews with handheld cameras, but the rarities, such as the TV edit, make them a must see.
If for some reason this film has slipped you by, the “cult” tag and obviously low production values put you off, do yourself a favour and take a ride with Otto and the Helping Hand Acceptance Corporation, but remember, “A repo man is always intense”.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £20.42
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