Dir. Jason Eisener
Runtime: 86 minutes
Starring: Ruger Hauer, Molly Dunsworth, Gregory Smith, Nick Bateman, Brian Downey
After winning a competition to get a trailer segment included in Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s 2007 “Grindhouse” project; buddies Jason Eisener, John Davies, and Rob Cotterill were lucky enough to follow-up with a full length feature by the same name as was featured in the “Planet Terror” (2007) part of “Grindhouse” – “Hobo with a Shotgun“.
As the random title of this films suggests: there’s a hobo, and he gets himself a shotgun. Still with me? Tired of the ‘slime‘ and the ‘filth‘ polluting the streets of Scumtown, Rutger Hauer’s character decides to unleash his own brand of justice – both barrels of it. Scumtown is notorious for crime and violence and it’s fairly common to see crooked cops, paedophile Santa’s, and gangs of nasty scumbags in general. To get justice, the hobo must go through a series of fights until he gets to the boss battle – hang on, that’s a brilliant concept for a video game. Drake (Brian Downey) is the local crime lord and his deranged offspring (Nick Bateman and Gregory Smith) are happy to fight and fornicate while they wait for their chance to rule crime family.
Jason Eisener’s tongue-in-cheek action/horror/comedy is full of brutality and violence, I’d probably say that out of all the films that came from the “Grindhouse” project (“Planet Terror“, “Death Proof“, and “Machete“), this is one of the nastier films. Paedophile Santa’s; homeless people fighting each other for entertainment and money; manhole decapitations; prostitution; kidnapping; sexism; bullying; and people generally getting beaten up or shot ‘just for fun‘ – Hell, there’s even a scene where one of Drake’s mental kids turns up to street fight wearing ice skating boots just so he can use the blades to kill. The reason this film feels nastier is because it isn’t making excuses – it doesn’t seem to care that it is violent and over the top as long as it maintains itself as a ‘genre film’ – it just is what it is and screw everybody.
The acting is decent but never groundbreaking, it’s no surprise that you will probably have seen Rutger Hauer in better films, but what a catch he must have been for the production and casting teams! In the trailer for this which appeared in “Planet Terror“, the hobo was played by David Brunt. In this feature length version he is still present, but now playing a crooked cop instead. The character development between the hobo and the prostitute, Abby (Molly Dunsworth), is good and I actually found myself caring for them. Especially at the end of the film where they appear to be in mortal danger. I cared more for these two random characters in this, than I have for big-name players in well written Hollywood epics before, so well done for that. In general though, the acting is mostly a cheesy affair – which is expected in this kind of film so therefore its actually fitting for the film.
This film was made to be a cheese-fest and it succeeds perfectly in that. It’s one of the better ‘so bad its good‘ films I have seen in recent years (and I’ve seen an awful lot of those films!). This feels like an 80’s horror film – it’s made to look like an 80’s horror film – the soundtrack and music feel 80’s – and, well… it just comes across like this is an authentic 80’s horror film rather than something that was made after the year 2000. With this said, “Hobo with a Shotgun” fits the criteria that Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s “Grindhouse” project suggested. The whole thing was meant to be a homage to the ‘sex-and-violence‘ filled exploitation-horror films that were fairly popular between 1960’s and the 1980’s. So again, it does well in what it is supposed to be. I have to say though, the contrast between the start of the film and when the depravity starts is nice. It goes from beautiful and scenic open landscapes, and when getting closer to the urban jungle and the chaos, the colours change to more of a neon and dirty madness. A nice touch in the cinematography stakes making the visuals tell as much of a story as the dialogue or action does.
NOSTALGIA ALERT – If you remember “The Raccoons” animated series from the 80/90’s then you are in for a treat during the end credits.
This is over-the-top, brash, offensive, bloody, violent, and actually a bit brilliant too in a weird kind of way. It hasn’t got a hidden or deep and philosophical message, and it doesn’t offer much social criticism either – it’s just a good old-fashioned film that’s meant to entertain the depraved audiences that like their films as twisted as they are. If you sit down to watch this film and expect anything less than a trashy film with elements of horror, action and comedy – then it’s you that needs help rather than the film – the title alone should suggest to you WTF you are in for here.