upholding the Indie Code
in the twilit and allegorical film art
of Alex Cox
by Gary W. Wright
As with most directors who emerged after the helicopter accident that killed child extras Renee Chen and Myca Le and actor/writer/director Vic Morrow around 2:20 am in the morning of July 23, 1982 on the set of the John Landis segment of the Landis, Joe Dante, George Miller and Steven Spielberg directed allegorical film TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983), the TZ disaster was an important theme in the allegorical films of Alexander “Alex” Cox. However, unlike most other twilit film artists, Cox was not obsessed with the TZ disaster, the computer generated imagery (CGI) that was quickly perfected so as to avoid any more traumatic film set disasters or mainstream film success. Instead, the lean and lanky Liverpudlian embraced the Indie Code and extolled gritty and satirical anti-commercial and anti-mainstream indie film art that was dismissive of CGI and the Zone. A commitment to indie film art that Cox made implicitly clear in his first twilit, allegorical and Ozian themed docufeature film REPO MAN (1984).
“As soon as I find that Chevy,
I’m going indie!”
Curiously, the film began with a 1964 Chevy Malibu weaving along a lonely desert road in California. Soon a California motorcycle highway patrol officer-played by Varnum Honey–began to pursue the dangerously weaving car. Significantly, the CHIP officer resembled Charles M. Smith, who played teenaged nerd Terry “the Toad” Fields in the allegorical, Ozian themed and implicitly Ralph Bakshi roasting George Lucas film AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973). This was the first of many allusions to that film and the rest of the film art of Lucas in the film, implicitly affirming that Cox was addressing Lucas in part in the film. Indeed, the Malibu’s license was KEB 283, linking the car and the film not only to the fateful TZ disaster on July 23, 1982, but to the 1983, the year Lucas crashed and burned forever when he acted as executive producer on the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced, Ozian themed and implicitly Spielberg roasting Richard Marquand film STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983). A spectacular demise implicitly alluded to when the CHIP officer pulled over the Chevy Malibu and was vaporized by a mysterious creative Force when he opened its trunk, a powerful vaporizing Force that evoked the equally powerful and vaporizing Force in the Ark of the Covenant in the twilit, allegorical, Lucas executive produced and implicitly Landis roasting Spielberg film RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981).
After this mysterious beginning, the ’64 Chevy Malibu then spent the rest of the film drifting in and out of the life of the angry, frustrated and implicitly Scarecrow linked L.A. Gen X teen punk, Otto Maddox-played by Emilio Estevez. An angry and frustrated young man like most teens in those days who was met working as a grocery clerk in a no name grocery store when first met, but soon abandoning that dead end job and his equally dead end, stoned, listless, tv watching and Spielberg and Amy Irving resembling parents-played by Jonathon ‘Tree’ Hugger and Sharon Gregg, respectively-making it immediately and implicitly clear that Cox was fed up with the Boomer and Spielberg dominated mainstream.
However, as Otto soon also rejected the meaningless, chaotic, irrational, callous, perpetually stoned and/or drunk and brutally violent robbery “lifestyle” of his punk Munchkin “pals”, Archie, Debbi and Duke-played by Miguel Sandoval, Jennifer Balgobin and Dick Rude, respectively-Cox also implied that he had no interest in completely abandoning film art and law abiding ordinary people. As such, the sight of young Maddox being conned by the cranky, preachy, creative and stubbornly independent repo man, Bud-played by Harry D. Stanton-to join him and his fellow equally irascible and indie repo men at the Helping Hands Acceptance Corporation (HHAC) and striving to uphold their rigorous and ridiculous Repo Code implicitly affirmed that Cox wanted to walk a fine and knowing line between ragingly anti-commerical film artists and listless mainstream film artists as an assertive, edgy, irascible, disciplined and creative indie film artist out to repossess and advance film art by taking it away from the callous and blockbuster loot lusting Hollywood scousers who had killed Chen, Le and Morrow.
Significantly, seeing Bud lead Maddox into the ranks of the indie repo men evoked the sight of Gaff-played by Edward J. Olmos-leading Rick Deckard-played by Harrison Ford-back into the Blade Runner ranks at the beginning of the eerily prescient, twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced and implicitly Peter Hyams roasting Sir Ridley Scott film BLADE RUNNER (1982), affirming the implicit interest in the twilit and disastrous year of 1982 in REPO MAN. Indeed, at one point Bud drove Otto through the 2nd Street Tunnel in L.A. solemnly explaining the Repo Code to his young charge, a sight that evoked Deckard driving through the 2nd Street Tunnel in the 2019 L.A. of BLADE RUNNER, openly linking the two films and implicitly affirming that Cox was replying to Sir Scott as well as Lucas in REPO MAN. The film long search for extraterrestrials on Earth by Leila, the girlfriend of Maddox-implicitly linked to Dorothy and Carrie Fisher’s Leia, and played by Olivia Barash-and the rest of the dedicated people at the United Fruitcake Outlet aka UFO also often poked fun at such twilit and allegorical Spielberg films as CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977) and E.T., THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL (1982).
As Maddox managed to secure a twenty thousand dollar reward by tracking down the 1964 Chevy Malibu and its primal and barely restrained creative Force, a mysterious car driven by the equally mysterious and implicitly Great Oz linked driver, Doctor J. Frank Parnell-his name evoking L. Frank Baum, author of the allegorical children’s story The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz (1900), to implicitly affirm the Ozian theme of the film, and played by Fox Harris-to climax a desperate search that haunted and united the many characters in the film, Cox also implicitly hoped that REPO MAN would achieve a modest success that would allow him to continue making indie film art. The end of the film, which saw Maddox dump Leila and join the quirky and implicitly Tin Man linked human Yoda, Miller-his name evoking Miller, the director of the fourth episode of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE, and played by Tracey Walter-in evading twilit LAPD helicopter NC2802 by mastering the primal creative Force of the Chevy Malibu and flying the terrifying car up into the air like a spinner in BLADE RUNNER, implied as much. For the sight of Miller and Otto tearing off into space and then blasting away into the heart of the galaxy like a time travelling UFO in the familiar STAR WARS hyperdrive post-production visual effect at the end of the film was not just a last wry and satirical goodbye to the Skyrocking Lucas era but also cheekily implied a new hope on the part of Cox that he had mastered his primal creative Force enough to head off to a brave neo world of twilit but refreshingly irreverent, innovative, irrepressible and indie allegorical film art.
Unfortunately, while REPO MAN was a fine and funny first film manifesto that definitely affirmed that Alex was a mischievous and confident Coxman, indeed, and influenced other indie film artists like Kathryn Bigelow and Richard Kelly, the final cut was not as enthusiastically embraced, marketed or distributed by Universal Studios, the studio that oversaw the film (Cox, X Films, 73-6). Not surprisingly, this lack of appreciation or support by the scousers at Universal displeased Cox, leading to a second feature film attempt to repossess film art that was not only more disaffected and anti-mainstream than the first, but also featured an irate and creative Englishman like Cox led astray by a lost, confused, fame and fortune loving and Hollywood evoking bimbo American blonde when Cox returned with Harris, Rude, Sandoval and Sy Richardson and Biff Yeager-who played the implicitly Cowardly Lion linked repo man, Lite, and Agent B of a secret U.S. government organization desperate to get its hands on the rogue Chevy Malibu, respectively, in REPO MAN-and more anarchic punk energy and music tempered by a more traditional and linear structure in the twilit and allegorical docufeature film SID AND NANCY (1986).
“I’m your best friend, Sid!”
Significantly, the raucous and sobering look at the rise and fall of Frankenstein resembling Sex Pistols bassist Sidney ‘Sid’ Vicious-played by Gary Oldman-began with the NYPD responding to a 911 call regarding domestic violence at the Chelsea Hotel on Seven and 23rd Street in New York. This immediately and implicitly linked SID AND NANCY to the fateful and disastrous events on 237 in 1982. The film’s implicit link to the twilit and disastrous summer of ’82 was reaffirmed by the fact that Vicious looked and dressed like a punk rocker seen amongst the crowded streets of future L.A. as Deckard frantically chased renegade replicant, Zhora-played by Joanna Cassidy-in BLADE RUNNER.
Indeed, the numerous nods to BLADE RUNNER and the fact that Sid’s older manager, Malcom-played by David Hayman-resembled Sir Scott affirmed the implicit interest in the film in SID AND NANCY and evoked the allusions to BLADE RUNNER in REPO MAN. In fact, the sight of Sid and his blonde bimbo American groupie girlfriend, Nancy Spungen-who evoked Daryl Hannah’s Pris in BLADE RUNNER, and was played by Chloe Webb-shooting up heroin throughout the film reminded us that ‘blade runner’ was slang for a heroin addict, reaffirming the film’s implicit link to BLADE RUNNER. Thus, the sight of Vicious being led astray and into heroin addiction by Spungen, and then killing her, in the end, implied that Cox felt that Sir Scott had been led astray by blonde bimbo linked Hollywood and its addictive post-production visual effects, and had destroyed himself and his film art with BLADE RUNNER. In addition, the link of Sex Pistols singer, Johnny Rotten-played by Andrew Schofield-to such allegorical David Lynch moving paintings as THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980) and DUNE (1984) also implied that Cox was roasting Lynch too in the form of Rotten for also crashing and burning with the visual fx heavy DUNE. Indeed, the orange haired Rotten evoked the orange haired Harkonnens of DUNE throughout the film, affirming his implicit link to Lynch.
Curiously, while not as successful as REPO MAN (Cox, X Films, 108) SID AND NANCY gave Cox more experience that he brought with him-along with more independent financing and distribution, and an indomitable commitment to the Indie Code-to his next satirical film. An indie outlaw film that completed his Punk Trilogy and that was an implicitly allegorical meditation on the beautiful but deadly town of Hollywood and its tragicomic lust for fame and fortune, and on the equally allegorical and Hollywood roasting spaghetti Westerns that brightened his staid existence in Liverpool in his happily misspent youth, a love he nostalgically recounted in 10,000 Ways To Die (2012), and affirmed by his new film’s allusions to the allegorical and implicitly Hollywood roasting Sergio Leone artbuster THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1966).
A zany, original and surreal punk Western that was also a Cox reunion jamboree, as many of the supporting actors and actresses of REPO MAN and SID AND NANCY returned for the film. Indeed, Balgobin, Harris, Richardson, Rude, Sandoval and Yeager joined Luis Contreras, Sue Kiel, Ed Pansullo, Zander Schloss, and Del Zamora-who played a grocery store security guard, Mrs. Magruder, Agent E, Otto’s nebbish friend, Kevin and the implicitly Francis Coppola linked rival indie repo man, Lagarto Rodriguez, respectively, in REPO MAN-Zander Berkeley, Kathy Burke, Courtney Love, Sara Sugarman and Michele Winstanley-who played Bowery Snax, Brenda Windzor, Gretchen, Abby National and Olive McBollocks, respectively, in SID AND NANCY-and Joe Strummer and the Pogues-who created “Love Kills” (1986), “Haunted” (1986) and “Junk” (1986), respectively, for the soundtrack of SID AND NANCY-for another twilit and allegorical docufeature film-this time with some CGI enhancement-that took us all STRAIGHT TO HELL (1987), which was implicitly inspired by the similar twilit and allegorical Stephen Frears film THE HIT (1984).
“What brings you killers to town?”
Curiously, the film began with a character played by Rude who turned out to be Willy sleepily drawing back the curtains of the window of his hotel room in Almeria, Spain, an action that mirrored and lampooned the smoother mechanical movement of the curtains rippling back from the screen of a cinema. Soon after, we discovered that Willy and his roommates, Norwood and Simms-played by Richardson and Joe Strummer, respectively-were hitmen when the twilit trio bungled a hit in their hotel. This profession and the fact that they were a twilit trio implied that they symbolized a trio of twilit film artists, an implication affirmed by their Hollywood blonde companion, Velma-played by Love. The implicit link of the four to twilit and blockbuster hit obsessed film artists was reaffirmed when they robbed the Banco Central de Almeria and then fled from the law and from the sinister Mr. Dade-fittingly played by Jim Jarmusch, who openly linked the feckless foursome to film artists-into the desert hills outside of town with a suitcase full of filthy lucre. For here in this desert wasteland that mirrored their moral wasteland, the three hit men found themselves to their surprise walking into a decaying wooden nineteenth century American Western town straight out of a film set. A fitting perception, given that this Western town was built for a Seventies Bronson film, making this decaying Bronson town a natural and literal symbol for the decaying state of twilit Hollywood by 1987.
Here they were persuaded by the gleefully machieavellian oil baron, I. G. Farben-ironically played by Dennis Hopper, supposedly an outlaw film artist himself, but now gamely appearing as the ultimate New Hollywood sellout and corporatist-to take out the lawless, coffee loving and implicitly Zone War film artist linked gang of outlaws, Clan McMahon-mostly played by the Pogues, and led by Yeager’s implicitly Luc Besson (or was that Francis Coppola?) linked Frank McMahon-who ran the town. As Willy, Simms and most everyone else-including the film’s implicit symbol of Hollywood film art, Love’s bimbo blonde, Velma-was killed in the bloody shootout that ended the film, and Norwood was left apparently trapped in an endless cycle of violence, Cox implicitly warned that, if they did not let go of the twilight and embrace the daylight, the furiously battling film artists of the dread Zone Wars were either going to wipe themselves out or be trapped forever in Zone War film art. The arrival of Mr. Dade near the end of the film openly affirmed the link of the baddies to film artists, as Jarmusch, who played Mr. Dade-his surname an all too fitting anagram for “dead”-was a fellow indie film artist.
Significantly, as the film ended with the only person in Bronson town to avoid guns and gunfighting, the eccentric, furtive and implicitly Terry Gilliam linked Chuch-played by Sugarman-surviving the final battle and trying to drive away a truckload of bleeding and bullet riddled bodies while workers employed by Farben Oil rebuilt Bronson town, Cox also implicitly warned that the only ones to benefit from the dread Zone Wars would be the big oil companies like Gulf + Western that owned Hollywood film studios like Paramount Pictures. For they would make money on Zone War films, and when the film artists of the Zone Wars burned themselves out or died, they would just recruit a new crop of eager beaver film artists fresh out of post-secondary film schools to start Hollywood all over again. As they would have to, as the sight of a CGI skeleton crawling its way out of a grave at the end of the film implied that Cox felt that mainstream Hollywood film art was so dead by ’87 it needed CGI to give it the illusion of “life”.
Curiously, the experience of making STRAIGHT TO HELL in and around Almeria during a fiesta week inspired the allegorical MacGowan written Pogues song “Fiesta” (1988) on their recording IF I SHALL FALL WITH GRACE FROM GOD (1988). As for Universal Studios, the film’s overseer and distributor despised the film as much as they had REPO MAN, causing them to again refuse to advertise the film or distribute it to many theatres. An embittering, frustrating and infuriating neglect that only affirmed the conviction of Cox that film art was going straight to hell that was reaffirmed when he returned to the Temple Theatre in 1987 with another indie film also overseen by Universal. An Indie Code upholding film that saw Berkeley, Contreras, Pansullo, Richardson, Rude, Sandoval-who also acted as Second Unit Director-Schloss, Strummer-who also created the memorable soundtrack-Yeager, Richard Beggs-sound man on REPO MAN-and Spider Stacey-the roguish Pogue who played Angel Eyes McMahon in STRAIGHT TO HELL-return for more exuberantly bloody Spaghetti western evoking mayhem in his twilit, allegorical and CGI free docufeature masterpiece, WALKER.
“No one will remember Walker.
No one will remember men who lose.”
Indeed, in many respects WALKER was just a larger and more elaborate remake of STRAIGHT TO HELL, with the attempt by the naïve, patriotic, quixotically idealistic and casually brutal Grey Eyed Man of Destiny, Colonel William Walker-played by Ed Harris- and his implicitly film artists linked “Immortals” to establish an American republic in mid-nineteenth century Nicaragua almost identical to the equally quixotic attempt by the equally casually violent McMahon and his implicitly film artist linked clan to control Bronson town in STRAIGHT TO HELL. This similarity was heightened by the fact that the film took place in two Spanish speaking countries-Mexico y Nicaragua, respectively-that evoked the Almeria, Spain shooting location of STRAIGHT TO HELL. The setting of WALKER in the mid-nineteenth century also evoked the abandoned nineteenth century Bronson town of STRAIGHT TO HELL.
The major difference between the two films was that Cox often alluded to RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and sometimes to STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI in WALKER. In fact, Cox even had an implicitly Stanley Kubrick linked character named Doctor Jones-played by Rene Assa-to affirm the implicitly link of WALKER to RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. This not only wistfully linked WALKER to the Last Good Year of film, but also implied that Cox was roasting Lucas, Marshall or Spielberg or all three film artists in the film. Most likely Lucas, as the reputation of Walker was destroyed when he allowed himself to be persuaded by the arrogant, ruthless and implicitly Lew Wasserman linked American business tycoon, Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt-played by Peter Boyle-and his cunning and implicitly Spielberg linked lackey, Ephraim Squier-played by Richard Masur-to invade and take over Nicaragua with his “Immortals” on the pretext of bringing peace, freedom and democracy to the Central American country by an appeal to Walker’s altruistic, idealistic and patriotic nature, heady and noble goals that did nothing to hide that Walker and his men were just protecting Vanderbilt’s business interests in the country. This reminded us that Lucas also destroyed himself and his reputation when he naively agreed to work with Marshal, Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy on the infamous twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced disaster INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (1984). For Kennedy and Marshall, the day to day producers of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE, helped Landis and George Folsey jr., the producer of the Landis episode of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE, hire and illegally use Chen and Le after hours the night of their deaths. Thus, by working with Kennedy, Marshall and Spielberg, Lucas implied his indifference to the fatal TZ disaster, outraging his youthful admirers and convincing them that he had abandoned the Good Jedi path and become the darkest of Dark Lords.
Indeed, the surname Walker evoked Skywalker, affirming the implicit link between Lucas and Walker. Like Lucas, Walker was also born in May. Walker lost his life’s love, Ellen Martin-played by Marlee Matlin-to malaria, reminding us that Lucas lost his life’s love, Marcia, in the Great Divorce of ’83. Walker’s failed fling with the beautiful, fiery and duplicitous Dona Yrena-played by Blanca Guerra-while in Nicaragua evoked the brief fling Lucas had with the equally beautiful Linda Ronstadt after the Great Divorce. Walker’s failed attempt to create his own private republic in Nicaragua also evoked the reality of Lucas creating his own private film art facility at Skywalker Ranch north of San Francisco, a facility that would also fail to succeed as audiences did not want to see the films of Lucas after his decision to work with Kennedy, Marshall and Spielberg after the TZ disaster.
Walker’s open link to San Francisco reaffirmed his implicit link to Lucas, for Walker noticeably gathered his ‘Immortals’ and supplies in San Fran before sailing down the west coasts of North and Central America to Realejo, Nicaragua. The fact that an animated map visual straight out of INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK was used to convey this coastal voyage to audiences reaffirmed the implicit link of Walker to Lucas. The sight and sound of Prussian officer Bruno von Namzer-played by Charley Braun-pledging himself to the Walker cause in Nicaragua reaffirmed the implicit link of Walker to Lucas, for von Namzer resembled Gary Kurtz, producer of AMERICAN GRAFFITI and the allegorical, CGI enhanced, Ozian themed and implicitly Spielberg roasting Lucas film STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (1977) and the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced, Ozian themed, implicitly Spielberg roasting and Lucas executive produced Irvin Kershner film STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980).
The outraged and righteously furious Nicaraguan uprising that led to the deaths of most of the “Immortals” and the burning down of Granada, capital of Nicaragua and new Bronson jungle town, in the bloody and STRAIGHT TO HELL evoking gun battle at the end of the film-and, eventually, to the fleeing Walker being executed by a Honduran firing squad-also affirmed the link of Walker to Lucas, evoking the equally righteously furious uprising of young audiences who were offended by the decision of Lucas to work with Kennedy, Marshall and Spielberg on INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM after the TZ disaster, given that Lucas had solemnly insisted in the STAR WARS Classic Trilogy that the Force of Good must be with you…always. Thus, Cox implied again that he was one of those righteously furious and outraged fans, as he already had in REPO MAN and STRAIGHT TO HELL, and that he was furiously roasting the rise and fall of Lucas from the heady and Skyrocking heights of the release of STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE in ’77 to the dismal depths of WALKER in ten depressing years. This withering summation of the life and film art of Lucas was implicitly shared that year by Bernardo Bertolucci in the twilit, allegorical and implicitly Lucas roasting docufeature film THE LAST EMPEROR (1987).
Curiously, however, and despite the furiously anti-Lucas spirit of ’87 that contributed to the success of THE LAST EMPEROR, WALKER, like REPO MAN and STRAIGHT TO HELL, was again not embraced by film overseer and distributor Universal Studios, who again gave the film little advertising or theatre bookings. Audiences and critics also showed scant interest, appearing not to notice and understand the implicit Lucas roasting intent of the film and fixating angrily instead on the film’s acerbic allusions to contemporary nefarious US involvement in Latin America (Cox, X Films, 127-28 and 170-73). This dismissal of WALKER only reaffirmed the already low opinion of Cox of Universal Studios in particular, and of Hollywood studios, mainstream film art, critics and audiences, in general. The implicit roasting Cox received in the implicit form Jack “the Joker” Napier-played by Jack Nicholson-and the implicit toast Lucas received in the form of Bruce “Batman” Wayne-played by Michael Keaton-in the twilit and allegorical Tim Burton animaction filmmercial, BATMAN (1989), also reaffirmed his low opinion of mainstream studios like Warner Brothers-and of audiences, given the success of the film and its massive movie tie-in merchandise campaign. Indeed, the presence of Walter as Joker’s right hand goon, Bob, and Robert Wuhl as the implicitly Spielberg linked Alexander Knox affirmed the implicit Cox roasting intent of BATMAN.
Thus, Cox was delighted when Mexican sympathizers reached out to him, allowing him to leave American and Hollywood scousers behind forever and head to Mexico to fully realize the always intense and exuberantly anti-mainstream but disciplined Indie Code (Cox, X Films, 175-95). A cinematic self-realization which was made clear when Cox returned with Sandoval-who worked as one of the dialogue coaches-and Schloss-who, in addition to playing Kevin in REPO MAN, Karl in STRAIGHT TO HELL and Huey in WALKER, had also contributed to the soundtracks of REPO MAN and STRAIGHT TO HELL, and now composed the entire soundtrack-Pedro Armendariz jr.-who played Nicaraguan General Munoz in WALKER-and Lorenzo O’Brien-producer of WALKER-with the twilit, allegorical and CGI free docufeature film EL PATRULLERO (1991), known in English as HIGHWAY PATROLMAN.
“Patrolmen never rest.
Always looking down the barrel of the gun.”
For the determination of the lonely and solitary but resolute and tenacious young Mexican National Highway Patrol Officer, Pedro Rojas-played by Roberto Sosa-to uphold the Highway Patrolman Code-Orden! Honor! Y Servicio!-by patrolling desolate and dangerous Sectors Four and Forty-Four of Highway 82 in the Northern Zone-a desolate stretch of desert highway that evoked the equally desolate stretch of highway seen at the beginning of REPO MAN-and ridding it of baddies while also freeing the unhappy prostitute, Maribel-played by Vanessa Bauche-from the control of her brutal pimp evoked the equally resolute and tenacious determination of the indie and lonely Cox was breaking free to uphold the Indie Code-Intelligence! Originality! And Satire!-defend film art and rid it of twilit and CGI enhanced beastly blockbuster Hollywood Eviloders. Indeed, the fact that the name of Maribel’s pimp was Emilio-played by Towi Islas-implicitly affirmed that Cox was cutting ties with Hollywood in EL PATRULLERO, as the name reminded us that Emilio Estevez played Otto Maddox in REPO MAN, the first dispiriting experience Cox had with the scousers of Hollywood. The success of Rojas in meeting and marrying a beautiful, intelligent, determined and spirited young woman, Zeldita-played by Zaide S. Guttierez-also implied the hope of Cox that EL PATRULLERO would succeed enough to allow him to finally settle down with a wife and family. In fact, as the film ended with Rojas quitting the corrupt and dangerous Mexican National Highway Patrol for safer work on the farm of his wife’s family, Cox implied that he was giving up the difficult, embittering, infuriating and unrewarding life of the indie outlaw film artist and heading off in a new direction.
Curiously, as the dimunitve Rojas evoked the equally dimunitive Lucas, it was possible that Cox, like other film artists, had begun to change his mind about Lucas in the years since the release of WALKER and was now urging Lucas to get his Force back on and make at least one last allegorical film to strike back at his many detractors. For all of Spielberg’s post-1982 films-including INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM-had implied that he had been on the Landis set of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE the night of the TZ disaster but had done nothing to stop it, turning film artists against him and for Lucas. Indeed, Sectors Four and Forty-Four, the two sectors Officer Rojas patrolled in the film, also evoked the Force of the of the STAR WARS Classic Trilogy, reaffirming that possibility. Maribel looked more like Ronstadt then Yrena in WALKER. And the sight of the ghost of the dead father of Rojas-played by Eduardo L. Rojas-haunting him in the film like the ghost of Jedi Knight Ben Obi Wan Kenobi-played by Alec Guinness-haunted aspiring and idealistic Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker-played by Mark Hamill-in the STAR WARS Classic Trilogy, reaffirmed the possibility that Cox was sympathizing with Lucas in EL PATRULLERO.
At any rate, the fact that many scenes of EL PATRULLERO were shot in long and unedited moving master shots known in Spanish-or Mexico-as plano sequencia-a style of film art sometimes seen in the first four films of Cox, particularly WALKER-signalled that Cox was not just cutting ties with Hollywood but also establishing his own trademark shot if he continued making indie film art, as it was a style of natural and flowing one take film art that was rarely used for an entire film in Hollywood. The title of EL PATRULLERO also inspired an equally distinct name to describe Cox and his indie outlaw approach to life and film art. For when El Patrullero was fused with “pelicula”, the Spanish world for film, the fittingly indomitable result was “El Pelicullero” aka the film artist with no name.
Curiously, Spielberg implicitly addressed El Pelicullero in the implicit form of dinosaur expert and “digger”, Doctor Alan Grant-played by Sam Neill-and implicitly hoped that the non-CGI enhanced and full human film art of film artists like El Pelicullero would triumph over CGI enhanced blockbuster beasts like Dr. Grant and friends triumphed over a twilit trio of CGI raptors at the end of the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced and Ozian themed filmmercial JURASSIC PARK (1993), which was a contrary and ironic implicit hope, indeed, given that JURASSIC PARK was the biggest CGI enhanced blockbuster beasts made up to that time, and given that it shamelessly promoted an avalanche of movie tie-in merchandise. Just as curiously, Charles Russell implicitly roasted the uncompromisingly idiosyncratic and indie El Pelicullero in the form of the equally idiosyncratic and indie “superhero”, Stanley “The Mask” Ipkiss-played by Jim Carrey-in the exuberantly and raucously twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced film THE MASK (1995). Indeed, The Mask’s fondness for Latin rythyms, the resemblance to Strummer of his friend Charlie Schumaker-played by Richard Jeni-and the film’s allusions to REPO MAN-as well as to the Toronto created and allegorical Julian Roffman film THE MASK (1961)-affirmed the implicit allegorical intent of THE MASK.
As for the man behind the mask, El Pelicullero clearly enjoyed making EL PATRULLERO and decided to compromise slightly on his anti-commercial indie code by leaving feature film art to make telefilm art. And so he briefly returned to England to team up with the BBC before heading with them back to Mexico (Cox, X Films, 197-202) to continue to fully uphold the Indie Code with Armendariz jr., Boyle, Guttierez, O’ Brien, Rojas, Sandoval, Sosa, Bruno Bichir-who played Anibal, the patrol officer compadre of Officer Rojas in EL PATRULLERO and Pray For Rain-who had provided songs for REPO MAN, SID AND NANCY and STRAIGHT TO HELL, and now composed the entire soundtrack-on the twilit, allegorical, CGI free and plano sequencia flowing docu-telefilm DEATH AND THE COMPASS (1996), which was inspired by the allegorical Jose Luis Borges short story “Death And The Compass” (1942) and which implicitly responded to BATMAN, JURASSIC PARK, THE MASK and the twilit and allegorical Warren Beatty film DICK TRACY (1990), which saw the indomitable and implicitly Lynch linked do-gooder Detective Dick Tracy-played by Beatty-triumph over the violent and implicitly John Waters linked gangster, Big Boy Caprice-played by Al Pacino-and the lovelorn and Dorothy Vallens/Lady In The Radiator evoking nightclub singer, Breathless Mahoney aka the Man With No Face-played by Madonna.
“Those were the days when a policeman
could still be a policeman.”
Indeed, with his fedora and trenchcoat, the equally indomitable, do-gooding and Alfred Hitchcock Ambigua City Detective Erik Lonnrot-played by Boyle-evoked Det. Tracy throughout the film. Not surprisingly, given that Det. Lonnrot intrepidly hunted down but was in the back and killed by the equally violent, red mask wearing and Spielberg resembling and implicitly linked gang leader, the dread Red Scharlach-played by Christopher Eccleston-in the end, El Pelicullero sarcastically reminded Beatty, Burton, Lynch and Russell that Good did not always triumph over Evil in reality. Indeed, the film’s allusions to the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced, Ozian themed and Lucas executive produced, Kennedy and Marshall produced Spielberg film INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (1989), implicitly affirmed the Spielberg addressing intent of DEATH AND THE COMPASS. Then El Pelicullero left behind the towering, crumbling, labyrinthine and centuries old buildings of Ciudad Ambigua with its incongruously neon lit Liverpool Club brothel for the towering, labyrinthine and centuries old buildings and hotels of Liverpool and rejoined Beggs, Pray For Rain, Sandoval and Schofield just in time to pensively ponder and usher in the new millennia in his next twilit, allegorical, Indie Code upholding and CGI free docufeature film THREE BUSINESSMEN (1999).
“Maybe we took a wrong turn
and wound up in Switzerland.”
Curiously, the quietly quirky film saw two businessmen, Francis “Frank” King and Benjamin “Benny” Reyes-played by Cox and Sandoval, respectively-meet up in El Pelicullero’s hometown of Liverpool and then spend most of the rest of the film wandering around the city looking for a good place to eat a hearty plate of shrimp and discussing life, the universe and everything. Unbeknownst to them, Liverpool quietly transformed in their peregrinations into several other cities around the world, including Rotterdam and Tokyo, uniting them all into one lost and confused film city on the cusp of the new millenia. Given that one of the businessmen was played by El Pelicullero, the implication was that the two businessmen symbolized film artists, unsure of where to head in the new millennia.
Eventually the pair wound up in familiar El Pelicullero territory in Mexico, where they met LeRoy Jasper-played by Robert Wisdom. Now the implicit link of the three businessmen to film artists became stronger, as the twilit trio evoked Norwood, Simms and Willy in STRAIGHT TO HELL, a link affirmed by the fact that the Mexican environs evoked Almeria, Espana. After finally finding a place to eat and enjoying a humble but filling repast, noises led the three to a back room in the restaurant where the twilit trio of businessmen paid humble homage to a Mexican newborn and her mother-played by Alicia W. Soesbergen and Ina Hernandez, respectively-like the three magi did to the baby Jesus, absolving and cleansing them and freeing them to begin anew in the new millennia. Particularly if the baby was the film messiah who would grow up to finally free film art from the TZ disaster and the dread allegorical Zone Wars and kick off a daylit and liberated new era of CGI enhanced film art. A daylit new era missing when El Pelicullero renewed his pledge to the anti-mainstream but disciplined Indie Code, surprised the world with a dash of CGI and returned to Liverpool to collaborate again with the BBC, Eccleston and Schofield on his next twilit and allegorical docufeature film REVENGERS TRAGEDY (2002), inspired by the allegorical Thomas Middleton play Revengers Tragedy (1606).
“Let the man who seeks revenge
remember to dig two graves.”
Fittingly, in this fateful and twilit twentieth anniversary year and in the cautioning spirit of the Chinese proverb quoted above before the start of the film, El Pelicullero implicitly warned Cameron and Spielberg, the two biggest players from ’82 left standing by 2002-in the implicit form of duplicitous Lussurioso and vengeful Vindici, played by Eddie Izzard and Ecclestone, respectively-to be careful lest their eagerness for allegorical vengeance kill them as surely as it killed Lussurioso and Vindici by the end of the film. And how also fitting that REVENGER’S TRAGEDY was produced by Margaret Matheson, given that her name evoked that of Richard Matheson, a writer who worked on the original TWILIGHT ZONE telefilm series and on TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE.
With its allusions to such twilit and allegorical Gilliam films as THE FISHER KING (1991) and FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS (1998), El Pelicullero also implicitly roasted Gilliam in the implicit form of the Duke-played by Derek Jacobi-perhaps because he worked on the screenplay of FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS and did not like the final film. the film artist with no name also implicitly roasted Bono and Sting in the implicit forms of Ambitioso and Supervacuo, the equally duplicitous and vengeful brothers of Lussurioso-played by Justin Salinger and Marc Warren, respectively. And wasn’t that…?
At any rate, Guillermo Del Toro implicitly and sympathetically likened El Pelicullero’s unswerving adherence to the Indie Code to the resigned adherence of Hellboy-played by Ron Perlman-to the indie superhero code in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced film, HELLBOY (2004). Kelly was also implicitly impressed with El Pelicullero, for allusions to REPO MAN appeared in the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced and Ozian themd film, SOUTHLAND TALES (2006). As for El Pelicullero, cautioning against vengeful grievances returned along with Beggs, Pansullo, Richardson and Zamora when he collaborated again with the BBC and staunchly upheld the Indie Code on his next twilit, allegorical and first digital camera shot docufeature film SEARCHERS 2.0 (2007), inspired by the allegorical John Ford film THE SEARCHERS (1956) and fused with REVENGERS TRAGEDY and with a good dash of THREE BUSINESSMEN and FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS plus a pinch of STRAIGHT TO HELL and a good wallop of THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY.
“But you can be absolutely sure,
that somewhere in some cave,
radioactive dregs of our descendants
will be worshipping single 35 mm frames
of PERSEUS VERSUS THE SPACE MONSTERS
featuring Fred Fletcher.”
Intriguingly, the film saw another gringo, Frederick “Fred” Fletcher-perhaps linked to George W. Bush jr., and played by Pansullo-meet up with another Latino, Melvino “Mel” Torres-perhaps linked to Gilliam, and played by Brandon Carlos as a boy and by Zamora as an adult, respectively-at the beginning of the film again in the El Rey apartments in California, evoking the meeting of King and Reyes in Liverpool at the beginning of THREE BUSINESSMEN. Discovering to their surprise while chatting that they were both verbally and emotionally abused by the same intimidating screenwriter, one Franklin Fritz Frobisher-perhaps linked to Spielberg, and played by Richardson-while working as Chen and Le evoking child extras on a Hollywood Western known variously as DOC HOLLIDAY VERSUS BUFFALO BILL and BUFFALO BILL VERSUS DOC HOLLIDAY, they both decided to drive east to Ford and El Pelicullero territory in spectacularly and hauntingly beautiful and lonely Monument Valley National Park and confront-and perhaps kill-Frobisher there in revenge for their childhood trauma while attending a free showing of DOC BUFFALO VERSUS BILL HOLLIDAY on an outdoor inflatable screen.
On the way to Arizonay, they picked up Melvino’s daughter, Delilah-the latest feisty, spunky, indignant and indie Coxwoman, and curiously played by porn “star” Jeanette Benardello, better known by her nom d’porn of Mariah Milano but now calling herself Jaclyn Jonet as if to disguise her identity-and her SUV with the ominously twilit license of SUOS812-or was that SUDS812?-to drive them to their vengeful destiny. Luckily for all, Delilah helped the twilit trio avoid the deadly ending of REVENGERS TRAGEDY and most other El Pelicullero films by replacing it with a tragicomic three way Sergio Leone film trivia showdown between Fred, Fritz and Mel in the spectacular desertscape of Monument Valley that evoked and spoofed the more bloody shootouts of the film art of El Pelicullero and Leone, particularly the three way duel between the implicitly David Lean linked Angel Eyes, the implicitly Sam Peckinpah linked Blondie and the implicitly Elia Kazan linked Tuco-played by Lee Van Cleef, Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach, respectively-that ended THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY. Thus, El Pelicullero freed himself, and perhaps Bush jr., Gilliam, and Spielberg, from the futile cycle of twilit revenge, allowing all to start anew again.
The sight of Fletcher revealing himself to be Franz Fierberg, Intellectual Property Enforcement secret agent of the Motion Picture Producers of America, in the end, also evoked Pasullo’s time as the equally secretive Agent E in REPO MAN and anticipated a wistful homage to that film in the next El Pelicullero film. Last but not least, El Pelicullero also implicitly hoped that Benardello would succeed in reinventing herself as Jonet and leave porn and Milano behind, given that the last of the bios for the four main characters that ended the film before the start of the closing titles said, hopefully, and ironically, given her film long feuding with her father and Fletcher, “…Delilah Torres became an actor”.
For his part, Del Toro implicitly and sympathetically linked El Pelicullero again to Hellboy-played again by Perlman-and helped the film artist with no name release any pointless concerns that he had never won an Oscar statuette by having Hellboy take on and take out an army of golden lookalike CGI warriors in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced film, HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY (2009). Freeing El Pelicullero to bring his indie life and film art full circle with Balgobin, Barash, Beggs, Berkeley, Jonet, Sandoval, Schloss, Velez, Webb, Yeager, Zamora, Zahn McClarnon-who played Rusty Frobisher in SEARCHERS 2.0-and SEARCHERS 2.0 director of photography Steven Fierberg and composer Dan Wool in the twilit, allegorical, mostly all green screen, wryly CGI enhanced and SOUTHLAND TALES evoking and perhaps replying film REPO CHICK (2009), or PIXXI DE LA CHASSE’S BIG ADVENTURE.
“Pixxi can be a repo man!”
Indeed, the sight of Balgobin, Barash, Sandoval, Schloss, Yeager and Zamora as Nevada, a railroad employee, Arizona Gray, the Doctor and Lorenzo, respectively, affirmed that El Pelicullero was coming full circle with REPO CHICK, reminding us that the five thespians played Debbi, Leila, Archie, Kevin and Lagarto, respectively, in REPO MAN. The appearance of El Pelicullero as the madcap Professor reaffirmed the full circle intent of the film, evoking his bit part as a gas station attendant in REPO MAN. The main difference was that this time a frustrated blonde celebrity bimbo heiress, Pixxi “Pixxita” De La Chasse-played by Jonet-rather than a bored and disaffected young punk, who joined the Velvet Glove Acceptance Corporation repo firm after being cheated out of her inheritance and strove determinedly to uphold the uncompromisingly indie Repo Code with her equally uncompromising Repo Chic.
Humourously, Pixxita-who evoked both Paris Hilton and Sarah M. Gellar’s indomitably befuddled porn “star” Krysta “Krysta Now” Kapowski in SOUTHLAND TALES, a fitting link to the latter given that she was played by a porn “star”-also thwarted a group of vegan anti-golf activists led by the possibly Gilliam linked Lorenzo-played by Zamora-and saved L.A. by preventing an elusive and primal Force filled three car California Zephyr ghost train that haunted the film like the ’64 Chevy Malibu of REPO MAN from crashing into Union Station in the city centre, thus triumphing over the downer ending of SOUTHLAND TALES and winning the million dollar reward, in the end. A triumphant ending that also implied that El Pelicullero was satirically roasting and toasting the CGI enhancement that had “saved” Hollywood film art, an implication affirmed by Pixxi’s pixel evoking name, and by the ironically dismal and wretched CGI that constantly “enhanced” REPO CHICK. Or did it? For Pixxita defied the odds and saved the day with the noticeable help of the implicitly W.P. Kinsella linked Arizona Gray, the implicitly Peter Newman linked Aguas-played by Robert Beltran-and the trusty family butler, Rogers-played by Ben Guillory-who resembled TIFF honcho, Cameron Bailey, a possible link to Canada reaffirmed by his Rogers Cable evoking surname. Indeed, the implicit link of Pixxi’s father, Aldrich De La Chasse-played by Berkeley-to Pierre Trudeau and the implicit link of her Aunt-played by Karen Black-to Margaret Trudeau also affirmed the implicit link of Pixxita to Canada and its film art and film artists.
Thus, El Pelicullero implied that an allegorical roast of TIFF may be the real point of REPO CHICK, with the ridiculous and Rogers aided triumph of Pixxita a satirical roast of the triumph of mainstream CGI enhanced film art with the help of perhaps Rogers Cable supported mainstream film festivals like TIFF. Or was El Pelicullero just pleased with the support he had received over the years from TIFF and implicitly hoping that the festival would triumph even more over American film festivals when their new Toronto HQ opened the year after the release of REPO CHICK? Alas, and at any rate, Jonet was so implicitly disappointed that REPO CHICK and SEARCHERS 2.0 were not blockbuster hits, for she soon gave up on mainstream film art and returned to her role as Milano in porno world. A tragicomic transformation implicitly addressed by Tarsem Singh Dhandwar, who had the Jonet resembling and implicitly linked Princess Snow White-played by Lily Collins-and her winterswept realm Spring back to health and happiness by triumphing over the implicitly porn film linked Wicked Queen-played by Julia Roberts-and her literally horny blockbuster CGI enhanced beast, allowing her to marry the handsome Prince with the Alex Cox evoking name of Alcott-played by Armie Hammer-in the end of the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced film MIRROR, MIRROR (2011).
At any rate, Joe Johnston implicitly felt that El Pelicullero was worthy of a roast, linking the legendary outlaw film artist to the hideous and the Mask/Red Scharlach evoking head of HYDRA, Johann “Red Skull” Schmidt-played by Hugo Weaving-in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced super satirical film CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (2011). Curiously, after being beaten by the implicitly Clint Eastwood linked Steve “Captain America” Rogers-played by Chris Evans-in the end, El Pelicullero was implicitly linked to the despondent, lonely, solitary and wistful ghost of Red Skull-played by Ross Marquand-on the deadly but soulfull planet of Vormir in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced Joe and Anthony Russo super satirical films AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018) and AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019). For his part, Gilliam implied in the tenth anniversary of REPO CHICK that he was addressing El Pelicullero in the form of film artist, Tobias “Toby” Grummett-played by Adam Driver-and former Cox actress Benardello’s years as cynical and embittered porn “star” Mariah Milano in the form of Joana Ribeiro’s former Grummett actress and prostitute Angelica in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced film THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE (2019), an implicit interest in El Pelicullero reaffirmed by the film’s allusions to REVENGER’S TRAGEDY and STRAIGHT TO HELL.
And so it ended for Cox the way it began, refusing to sell out to Hollywood and its beastly and CGI enhanced blockbuster buffoonery and steadfastly upholding the intense Indie Code with satirical and anti-mainstream but disciplined and coherent indie films, still on his feet rather than on his knees and with his head held high and his credit rating sound, enjoying a plate of hot, delicious and cosmically synchronous shrimp and a cool Cerveza in his untraceable and impregnable redoubt somewhere high in the hot and haunted hills of Almeria or the Sierra Madres, with his loyal compadres Richardson, Sandoval and Zamora by his side, his conscience clear, his sleep deep and rejuvenating, at ease with the world and its all too ordinary people and himself, with nothing to prove more and content that always would he be known as the legendarily raging and defiantly indie, indomitable and iconoclastic film artist best known as…!El Pelicullero!
Cox, Alex. X Films. New York: I. B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2008.
-----. 10,000 Ways To Die: a director’s take on the spaghetti
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