Alex Cox has a really crowded business card: Cult Filmmaker. Fallen from Grace. Hollywood Outsider. Looking for a Comeback. In the 1980s, he was a Next Big Thing after Repo Man (1984), which is undoutedly the greatest movie ever made about paranoia, cars, punks and aliens in Los Angeles. He quickly followed that with Sid and Nancy (1986), a dizzying biopic of Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols and his deranged girlfriend Nancy Spungen. That film not only earned a cult following, but also got a fair measure of mainstream critical recognition.
Afterward, Cox's career struggled to regain the same kind of momentum. His next film, Straight to Hell (1987), was almost universally dismissed as an exercise in weird, but his fourth film, Walker (1988), was a hit among European film buffs, and it was recently bestowed with a high-class Criterion DVD release. Since then his films had very sporadic distribution and some of them remain very difficult to see, including the acclaimed Highway Patrolman. And the ones that are available on DVD tend not to generate much enthusiasm. But Cox is out there trying, and according to a recent Village Voice interview, he hopes to return to the concept of repo men.
Cox tracks the story of the long, twisty, disappointing process of creating a sequel to a cult classic. One rumored project, Waldo's Hawaiian Holiday, was set to be made in the 1990s, with Emilio Estevez potentially revisiting his role as repo man Otto. Unfortunately, a major studio owns the Repo rights, and they completely ignored the proposed sequel. Another problem was that the sequel was time-sensitive, written specifically with the 1990s in mind. (Fortunately, the story was eventually published as a graphic novel.)
Now, Cox is working on Repo Chick, which he says is not a sequel. ("It's entirely a freestanding film about a very wealthy young woman who finds meaning stealing from the middle class and the poor. You wouldn't need to see Repo Man to make sense of it.") Even stranger, 95% of the film was apparently shot on sound stages, against green screens. And Tracey Walter, who played the philosophizing Miller ("plate of shrimp") in the original, was cast to play a role in the sequel, but had to be replaced after -- of all things -- a car accident.
Cox says the film will be shown in September, in an as-yet-unnamed film festival, and that it currently has no distribution. It remains to be seen whether Repo fans will embrace the new sequel or see it as a bastardization of their original ideal. Hopefully the new film will put Cox back on the map, but at the same time, it could just disappear like a flying saucer that's really a time machine.