Great Bad Movies: "Hobo With a Shotgun" (2011)
"Hobo With a Shotgun" (2011) - Directed by Jason Eisener
***WARNING: INCLUDES SPOILERS****
Sometimes the title of a movie tells you everything you need to know. That's definitely the case with 2011's Hobo With a Shotgun, a gloriously over-the-top, action-packed, gore soaked salute to the sleazy, low-budget action/revenge sagas that filled drive-in screens throughout the 1970s and video store shelves in the '80s (think The Exterminator, the Death Wish series, Vigilante, etc.). Hobo was first created by Canadian filmmaker Jason Eisener as a "fake trailer" for a contest tied into Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's 2007 flashback double-B-feature Grindhouse - which featured trailers for fictitious "coming attractions" in between the film's two programs, Death Proof and Planet Terror. The Hobo trailer won the contest and it was added to Grindhouse 's Canadian theatrical prints. Though Grindhouse wasn't exactly a box office smash, it cultivated a fervent cult following thanks to home video and in 2010 one of the film's other "fake trailers" - Machete, starring Danny Trejo - was spun off into its own full-fledged "real" film directed by Rodriguez. Machete did better at the box office than Grindhouse, and inspired by its success, the makers of Hobo With A Shotgun decided to bring their anti-hero to life as a full-length feature as well. The result is one of the most gleefully offensive, gratuitously violent and hilariously disgusting action flicks in recent memory.
Original "Fake" Trailer (2007):
Press "Play" and Hang On...
Hobo With A Shotgun begins with the titular Hobo, portrayed by genre legend Rutger Hauer ( Blade Runner, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Hitcher), hopping off of a freight train as it passes through the deceptively-named Hope City. Sharp eyed viewers will notice that the "Welcome" sign at the entrance to the run-down town has been altered by graffiti to read SCUM CITY. Like Eastwood's "Man With No Name," Hauer's character is never given one - he's simply "The Hobo," and he wants nothing more than to be left alone until he can earn enough loose change to buy a lawn mower at the local pawn shop and start his own landscaping business. Seems like a simple enough plan but it's not going to happen here, as Hope City is ruled by a ruthless crime lord known as The Drake (Brian Downey) and his two psychotic sons/lieutenants, Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman), for whom rape, torture and murder are not just the family business, they're a way of life. Shortly after his arrival in Hope City, the Hobo witnesses Drake and Sons decapitating a man by sticking him into a manhole and then yanking his head off with a chain attached to a moving car, in a showy display of gore intended to keep the town's population in a state of terrified obedience. This doesn't sit well with Hobo, who soon rescues the attractive prostitute Abby (Molly Dunsworth) from an attempted sexual assault by Ivan and Slick. Hobo places Slick under citizen's arrest and takes him to the police, only to find out that Hope City's police force is just as evil and corrupt as Drake and his followers. His attempted good deed gets him beaten within an inch of his life and tossed into a dumpster for his trouble. Fortunately the sympathetic Abby, touched by Hobo's kindness, takes him to her apartment and allows him to recover.
"Real" Trailer (2010)
Now the REAL fun starts...
Back on his feet, Hobo enters a pawn shop to purchase his coveted lawn mower, only to be interrupted by a gang of would-be armed robbers. Instead of spending his hard earned $49.99 on the mower, he grabs a similarly priced shotgun from the wall instead, turns the gun-toting punks into hamburger with it, and then pays for his purchase. Now the Hobo is a man with a mission... to clean up the streets of Hope City, one shell at a time!! Soon he's blasting away at muggers, coke dealers, pimps, crooked cops, and pedophiles in Santa suits, quickly becoming a hero to the long-suffering residents of Hope City. Obviously the Hobo's mission puts him at Number One on the Drake's hit list - with a bullet. In order to combat the Hobo's threat, the police force orders the extermination of Drake City's entire homeless population, hoping to flush him out into the open. Soon gangs of vigilantes are roaming the streets, whacking transients at will, and from there it's just one gory, foul-mouthed, ear splittingly loud, gut bustingly tasteless action sequence after another, as the Hobo goes toe to toe with Drake and his gang and then rescues his new friend Abby from the clutches of "The Plague," a pair of professional hit men clad in metallic suits. By the end of the film, gallons of blood have flowed, countless shotgun shells have been ejected, and the body count is ... well, let's just say "astronomical."
Summing It Up...
Obviously, Hobo With A Shotgun will not be for everybody. With all the gore and body parts being flung around, this movie is the cinematic equivalent of a GWAR concert. I like to think that I'm pretty jaded when it comes to gore and nastiness in movies, but even so, there were several scenes in Hobo that made me wince and say, "Ooooohhh man, that is SO WRONG." This is a movie in which the bad guys incinerate a school bus full of children with a flame thrower - and then parade one of the charred bodies on live TV - for the sake of a cheap joke. Viewers who are accustomed to big budget action films will likely be horrified at the overall scuzzy look of the film, the comic-book style dialogue, and the sometimes-less-than-competent acting. Hauer's performance is suitably (and hilariously) intense, of course, and Mulholland is both sweet and dangerous as Abby, but the actors portraying Drake and his sons all play their roles as straight up camp, like the hammy villains in the 1960s "Batman" TV series. Those who are easily offended or grossed out should obviously move on to something else, but if you can imagine what Death Wish 3 might have looked like if it had been made by the sickos at Troma Studios (makers of the Toxic Avenger series), then Hobo With A Shotgun is your movie! This is the kind of film that's made to be enjoyed with a few like-minded friends and a case of cheap beer. One look at the trailers should tell you whether or not you can handle entering the Hobo's world. Till next time, remember... maybe "you can't solve all of the world's problems with a shotgun," but "when life hands you razor blades... you make a baseball bat with razor blades." Words to live by!