Thursday, 9 February 2012

Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)

‘Hobo with a Shotgun’ is a screamer of a winning goal in the grindhouse revival that was innovated by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino in the 2007 double feature ‘Grindhouse’. Their respective films in that truly unique cinematic experience with ‘Planet Terror’ (the best zombie offering since Zack Snyder’s 2004 redux of ‘Dawn of the Dead’) and the semi-successful thriller ‘Death Proof’ (Tarantino’s worst movie to date but still well worth a look) were each bookended by a very convincing set of faux trailers. Made like those two features in the B movie style of exploitation films shown in the grindhouse theatres of yesterday year and directed by numerous fresh talented filmmakers catering for different genres they have now been made into full-length features as well.

The also directed Rodriquez trailer ‘Machete’ was the first to get the full feature treatment in 2010. Co-directed by himself with long time collaborating editor Ethan Maniquis and although it is an overall enjoyably cartoonish entertaining time this action thriller’s unevenness in the directing styles of its two different directors made for awkward pacing. There was also a distinct lack of authenticity in terms of it having a genuine B movie exploitation look and feel, as it was a far too polished production to achieve that despite using some of the actual footage from the original ‘Grindhouse’ trailer. However, at last we have the much-anticipated ‘Hobo with a Shotgun’. It started life by its director Jason Eisener, writer John Davies and co-producer Rob Cotterill winning with the original fake trailer its based upon Robert Rodriquez’s international grindhouse trailers contest at the South by Southwest festival. Featured with ‘Grindhouse’ in selected theatres mostly in Canada it proved one of the most popular of the false trailers with audiences. You can see it below...

As the now full-length feature’s tagline states “DELIVERING JUSTICE ONE SHELL AT A TIME”, ‘Hobo with a Shotgun’ certainly lives up to that promise and does not disappoint. It delivers an unapologetically over the top intentional cheesefest in homage to a kind of filmmaking that produced trash purely for cheap thrills. Its tongue firmly in cheek nudge nudge wink wink approach distracts us in ever taking seriously the immense amount of jaw dropping goretastic bloody displays, which is at a constant non-stop rate. The humorous Troma like spin on the gratuitous violence is what lends to the film’s success in being just one of the most shamelessly entertaining times in pure unadulterated blood soaked mayhem that I have seen in absolutely ages.

It can be argued that it just cannot copy the original grindhouse movies with its superior production values and that those old exploitation flicks were limited to showcase a small to modest amount of showstoppers in terms of eye-popping violence and between those set-pieces were injections of atmosphere. While this was the case with their measly budgets ‘Hobo with a Shotgun’ just has the privilege of having a $3 million spending spree to amp up the more blood there is the better sequences that those filmmakers back in the day wish they had. More power to Eisener for that. He is able to spray the claret very predominately over the lean 86 minutes running time and it captures perfectly the other stylistic traits that made those exploitative endeavours get such solid cult followings over the years. As well as the violence, it is all here: sex entailing the mistreatment of women, far out bizarre subject matter incorporated in an equally loopy plot, whacky characters (get a load of The Plague that just screams out spin off) etc.

As well as recreating the grindhouse elements Jason Eisener shows off some other inspired direction. With very fine pacing throughout, he also impressively pulls off a John Carpenter by making the small locations of “Fuck Town” bigger than what they actually are all the while employing a palette that is dripping with colours. This is a directorial talent to watch. The performances are very strong all round. Rutger Hauer is at his coolest best here in the title role, echoing his heyday of the ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘The Hitcher’ era. Embittered, fearless, grizzled, moody and relatable in his quest for justice that draws our sympathies he plays the part of the stranger riding into town and clearing up the scum off the streets with much glee. He really loves his role here.

A part of old school vigilante movies is using this western set-up and Hauer even arrives into town to a spaghetti western style theme that also incorporates samples of the main title music from ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ (1980). Another notable performance is that of Brian Downey as the film’s villain The Drake. It is a wonderfully campy bat shit crazy turn. There is an array of effortlessly quotable lines of OTT dialogue:  “Put the knife away, kid... or I'll use it to cut welfare checks from your rotten skin!”, I'm gonna sleep in your bloody carcasses tonight!”, “You and me are goin' on a car-ride to hell... and you're riding shotgun!” etc are just a few of the golden greats.

I am leaving this review spoilers free because who am I to ruin such a blood drenched good time. ‘Hobo with a Shotgun’ is destined to become one of those home video favourites that will forever garner repeated viewings with such ease whether you are alone or with a group of friends. This is a masterpiece of fun beer and pizza flicks and is undoubtedly the best of the new wave of grindhouse movies to date. It is an epic piece of insane exploitation entertainment.

**** out of ****

Dave J. Wilson

©2012 Cinematic Shocks, Dave J. Wilson - All work is the property of the credited author and may not be reprinted or reproduced elsewhere without permission.


  1. this is on my list to see! also thanks for adding my blog link! i'm added you. -kenyon,