Review: Hobo with a Shotgun

Directed by: Jason Eisener
Category: Exploitation

The best thing about Hobo with a Shotgun is that it doesn't try to be anything else than what the title says. It's a movie about a hobo with a shotgun who kills the scum of the crime infested town. That's it. There's no preachiness in here. No hidden message, no hidden meaning. If there is, it might be that hobo's, or homeless people, are people too. But that's it because as the poster and trailer promises, it's a movie filled with so much insane carnage, violence and gore that had this had a large theatrical release or even been made in the 80's or early 90's this thing most certainly would have gotten an X Rating.

I will say this, you have to be in the right mood and frame of mind to enjoy this because it's ridiculously insane. And not in the brilliant Sam Raimi Evil Dead kind of insane, but more of a homage over-the-top kinda insane. Bloody, insane, ridiculous and completely over the top it serves as a perfect homage to the trash exploitation stuff hitting video stores in the early to mid 80's. And boy was it a lot of fun.

In case you didn't already know, it's based on a fake trailer contest given by Robert Rodriguez's SXSW Grindhouse fake trailer contest to promote his and Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse theatrical release. After winning, it was soon made into this feature length film by director Jason Eisener, who also made the fake trailer. Only this time instead of using David Brunt as the homeless man in the trailer, they hired cult cinema icon Rutger Hauer for the role, and what a brilliant move. So much is written in his old, leathery and weather worn face, even his eyes. There's a scene where he's locked inside an upright coffin with a small window in front of his face so he can see out. It's so small that you only see his eyes, but what he does with those eyes and what he's able to convey with them for those few seconds are a testament to how brilliant an actor this guy is. There's not any other recognizable actor in here other than Hauer, which is fine because it's all about him here.

Basically, Rutger Hauer plays a homeless man who rides into town on a train. This town is overrun with crime and violence led by a guy named The Drake with his 2 sons Slick and Ivan. Immediately you get that these guys are idiots, but what do you expect. They keep the entire town in a constant state of fear, even having the police force in there pocket. All he wants to do is buy a used $49.99 lawnmower from a pawnshop so he can start his own business, but as he finally saves enough change to get his lawnmower, a group of hoodlums robs the place threatening to kill everyone inside. Hobo snaps and see's a shotgun on the wall also for sale for $49.99. You have to ask yourself why a pawnshop would have a loaded shotgun for sale in a crime infested town on the wall on the opposite side of the store from the cash register. But whatever. Hobo kills the intruders in glorious fashion and his murderous rampage to rid this town of crime begins. But not before he actually pays for the shotgun with his $50. Hilarous! You would think the pawnshop owner would just give him the shotgun since he saved his life and all. Funny thing too, you don't see him actually get shotgun shells or even reload at all throughout the film, but that's part of the charm. He also befriends a prostitute who he saved from being killed, so he's got kind of a sidekick or at least someone he cares for now.

That's pretty much the plot. And honestly what else do you need? Do you care about plot, performances or even characterization? Hell no! You want to see Rutger Hauer blowing every thug away in gory fashion and this movie delivers indeed. It's probably the goriest film I've seen in a really long time and that's putting it lightly. But it's done in such an over-the-top extreme fashion that it's almost comical. You actually laugh when someone's head gets blown off, or someones foot is splattered with a sledgehammer, or someone's head is ripped off with a noose attached to a car because it's so ridiculous that when blood flies, it literally sprays like a shower.

One of the other things this film has going for it is that unlike Machete, this film looks and feels more like an authentic 80's direct-to-video exploitation flick. It keeps its consistency throughout, right down to the soundtrack and credits. I love Machete to death, but as cool as that movie was, it just seemed that like after 20 minutes it just starts to look like a normal movie. Rodriguez's kitschy camera work and even the scratches and graininess from the beginning start to diminish, making it look less like the film he was trying to make. But that's another story. Here, director Jason Eisener pulls off the look and feel perfectly down to the bright neon lights, over exposed colors and hyper kinetic camera work. It works, it all works to achieve exactly the kind of film it's paying homage to and you have to commend the guy for that.

The script, if you can call it that, is about as vulgar as you can possibly imagine. Almost every word that comes out of every characters mouth is unapologetically vulgar, vile and nasty. But again, you laugh because even in the most unnecessary instances you can count a dozen obscenities. The entire movie is crazy, but there were a few things that stood out more than most. Like when Hauer and his prostitute friend come up with an idea to start a lawn care business, they come up with the motto "If you grow it, we cut it". Obviously anybody else would try to make it rhyme by saying "If you grow it, we mow it", but that's the beauty of this film. They know anyone else would probably say that and they don't give a shit. In another scene, Hauer kills a pervert cop who's about to kill his friend. He literally reduces the cops body to a slimy, pulverized mess after repeated shotgun blasts. Realizing there's a mob down the street and he would probably be killed, he hides in a shopping cart and put the pulverized corpse on top as his prostitute friend pushes it to safety. When they come to as stop, they could simply have just pulled the dead body off the top and out of the way so he can get out of the cart. But no, instead they leave the body on top and he rips through the corpse spewing entrails all over the place. Brilliant. Just another example of it's gory brilliance.

The film is about as short as it needs to be, coming in under an hour and a half. Running too long it would have been overkill with this kind of story and film. An extremely good time is to be had here if you can look past the fact that this is not your conventional film and more of a tribute/parody hybrid and enjoy this film for what it is, an authentic and extremely violent, gory homage to a long dead genre. Trash cinema, exploitation, sleaze and cult cinema all rolled into one. Badaaaaaass.

1 comment:

  1. Just watched this last weekend. Not a bad little flick - enjoyed it slightly more than Machete. I like that the director really captured that cheap b-movie feeling with the oversaturated, grainy cinematography. And Hauer was superb in the lead.

    As much as I enjoyed the film I don't think I've got much of a desire to see it again though.