“Introducing the New 2010 Chevrolet Chernobyl with optional power windows, power locks, and death ray emitting trunk.”

This weekend, while working on my Camaro behind the old toolshed & trailer, I busted a fan bracket off the engine block. There’s no nearby Autozone or NAPA dealer, and it was after 5 on Sunday. Luckily, Joe Don’s Salvage Yard is just a hop, skip, and a drunk stumble down the road, and I can always count on Big Joe to still be up watching “Law and Order” re-runs at his front office desk, mostly to avoid his old lady. The man refuses to get cable, and uses an old black and white TV with rabbit ears wrapped in tin foil. Usually I try to sweeten the deal with something deep fried as a gift for Joe. He’s much more willing to help me scrounge around the lot if his veins are immediately filled with salt and nitrates. However, this time I had nothing with me, not even a piece of pocket-warmed beef jerky; I was going into a gun fight without a six-shooter and Joe knew it. He immediately became agitated, cursing and mumbling under his breath, fumbling with the TV antenna, and just waved me off in the general direction of where I might possibly find the fan bracket or get a painful staph infection–whichever came first.

I find the junkyard to actually be a very peaceful place to think and meditate, much like a cemetery… minus the possibility of a spontaneous zombie uprising, though I am well prepared for such a situation. Sure, I always get funny looks at funerals when I carry that machete around, but you can never be too careful. I like to show it to people in the procession and say things like “Yeah, you never know…we might need to bury him twice.”

After hours of dead ends I finally found what appeared to be a Camaro similar to mine, with a heck of a lot more rust. It was a bit hard to tell though, as most of it had been flattened like a PB&J in a kid’s lunch sack, but the engine was still intact, so with my trusty Allen wrench, I removed the fan bracket cautiously. I couldn’t help but imagine the scene of Indiana Jones removing the golden skull from the altar. Checking around for hostile natives, I made my way back and paid the fair price of $25 and the promise of a bucket of chicken for Joe when I came back. Who said you can’t put a price on adventure?

Speaking of pioneers in the salvage industry, Emilio Estavez plays Otto Maddox, a rebellious punk who enjoys head banging with friends and eating his dinner out of dog food cans. Ahh, the rebellious youth of the 80’s. These are the same guys that wore Wham shirts. Howard Dean Stanton plays Bud, a seasoned, disgruntled repo-master who enlists Otto to join his dojo of car jackers. The other beer-inspired repo staff are: “Lite”, a streetwise gun touter, and “Miller”, a hippie mechanic who tries to teach him the repo code of ethics, and hopefully convince him not to make “Mighty Ducks 2.” Taking a few too many head butts at the previous night’s rave, Otto feels a kinship to them and the life of the auto repossessor. Sure the hours stink, but you do get the benefits of getting shot at by enraged Mexican immigrants, or getting the snot kicked out of you by a Mowtown band with guitar cases.

Meanwhile, during all this grand larceny fun, a one-eyed self-lobotimizied scientist, J. Frank Parnell, is transporting glowing shrimp platter aliens in his car trunk across state lines. Besides breaking some food import laws, he’s also encouraging people to look in his trunk, which immediately vaporizes them, leaving behind only the fresh scent of pine. It’s his own Ark of the Covenant on wheels, minus the Nazi’s. J’s plan is to meet up with Leila, one of the few members of the official fan club of UFO’s who isn’t still living in their parents’ basement, and expose the world to the truth. Otto puts some of his smooth moves on her, and she gets Estevezed in the back seat of his car. How romantic, but she hopes the horizontal mambo will encourage Otto to help her find the scientist, so they can  book the intergalactic shrimp cargo on local talk shows.

A $20,000 bounty is put on the Malibu, and soon a secret G-team in rented suits, along with every repo and car theft ring in the county is out looking for it. The G-team is led by a cruel German dominatrix with a mean kung-fu grip robotic hand (do they charge extra for that?), and an unhealthy obsession to get those alien remains at any cost. Otto gets captured  and is tortured by Mrs. Roboto so that she can try to learn the whereabouts of the actual car, but Otto is rescued before his hair gets singed. He later encounters his ex-girlfriend, Debbie, a particularly nasty punk rocker who left Otto for his best pal at a mosh party, leaving him heart broken in his tighty whities. It’s your typical boy meets girl, boy catches syphilis kinda of love story.

Debbie is hooked on speed and sushi eating with her new boyfriend, Boni, when they run into Otto while they’re robbing a 7-11. Everyone has a gun pointing at someone else’s head, leading to a pretty frantic session of scratch and win tickets. Boni however, just wants to settle down, get married and have little spiked hair social deviants. But instead, he ends up getting a shotgun blast to the chest. Just an early preview of married life, my friend; count yourself lucky.

Any semblance of a plot was lost a long time ago, but no one really cares at this point. We meander the city streets at night in glowing cars, have spontaneous shootouts in hospital stairwells, torch street people, and listen to hippie mechanics spouting universal wisdoms about the cosmic order of consciousness and the lattice of coincidence. Gotta love Saturday nights in L.A.

Repoman is a definitive cult classic that gets even better upon repeated viewing. A special Roadside award goes to Emilio Estevez, whose role as Otto redefined the anarchist punk rocker, and Howard Dean Stanton, who fit his role as a crusty, seasoned car reposessor perfectly. If I saw either of these two guys near my car, I’d be getting nervous. Retroman says check it out, and be sure to order the all-you-can-eat sushi buffet.

– Obsessive air freshener collecting
– Generic food in a can
– Radioactive intergalactic calamari
– Devo radiation suits
– Mace to the face
– Rat tossing
– Coffee to the face
– Emilio Estevezing
– Mexican rockabilly Vegas lounge singers
– Levitating cars

Rated 9.3 out of 10

“Don’t fear the Repo…baby I’m your man…we’ll be able to fly now”… man, those lyrics ring so true now.

Check out the trailer for Repoman