Hobo With A Shotgun* Review

Film Still
Trailer
  • Hobo With A Shotgun film still

Score

You like gore? Then you’ll be in heaven. You don‘t? What the hell are you doing watching a film called Hobo with a Shotgun?

The second film to originate from the fake trailers created to promote Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse (the first being the ridiculously entertaining Machete), Hobo with a Shotgun is an homage to '80s exploitation thrillers in which subtlety and restraint is held with scant regard.

The eponymous hobo (Rutger Hauer) finds himself in the delightfully named Scum Town. A haven of brutal beatings, degrading sex and sickening violence, it makes Sodom and Gomorrah look like Vatican City. At the centre of it all is the twisted Mr Drake (Brian Downey) who – along with his psychopathic sons, monstrous henchmen and the corrupt police force – keeps the few decent citizens living in constant fear. When he reaches breaking point, the hobo decides to fight back by – as the film’s tagline proudly proclaims – dispensing justice one shell at a time.

Hobo is sick pantomime taken to an absurd degree. Its clichéd story – the stranger arriving in a corrupt town to clean it up – owes as much to the western as the horror genre, and in reality is little more than a hook for various grotesque characters and situations. You’re not sure a character is evil? Fine, let’s have them barbecue a school bus full of children just so you’re sure. Is that cop corrupt because he takes a sly bribe? No, it’s because he helped carve the word ‘scum’ into somebody’s chest.

Yet this absurdity is also the film’s saving grace. From the palette of muted primary colours chosen to parody its '80s grindhouse counterparts, to the never ending gobbets of bright red blood, Hobo is too ridiculous to take seriously and – by extension – be remotely offended by.

Of course those who are squeamish need not apply. There’s no ‘let’s turn the camera away and leave it to the audience’s imagination’ here. Body parts are disintegrated, heads are often reduced to a pulpy mush while lawnmowers and ice-skates are used ways that the manufacturers surely didn’t intend.

While the majority of the acting befits the film’s low-end aspirations, Hauer really gives it his all. After a decade of Euro-trash features and Guinness ads, it’s easy to forget that that he is an amazingly charismatic screen presence. Here his performance anchors the insanity and proves that, despite knocking on in years, he can still be a convincing action star.

Nostalgia can often forgive a multitude of sins, but director Jason Eisener has written a winning love letter to the lost films of his youth with enough humour and chaos to delight any fan of the genre.

Anticipation

It’s called Hobo with a Shotgun. The hobo is Rutger Hauer. Epic win.

4

Enjoyment

You like gore? Then you’ll be in heaven. You don‘t? What the hell are you doing watching a film called Hobo with a Shotgun?

4

In Retrospect

Provides its target audience with exactly what they want while still managing to be aware of just how silly it all is.

4
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View 8 comments

Anton Bitel

3 years ago
oops, I meant Street Trash...

Anton Bitel

3 years ago
In the version I saw, it was Fuck Town, not Scum Town. When the Hobo first arrives on the train, he passes a sign that says "Welcome To Hope Town", but 'Hope' has been crossed out and replaced with the graffiti 'Fuck'. Later, the corrupt police officer (well, one of them) repeats the phrase "Welcome to Fuck Town".

My favourite bit in this film was the wrestling octopus. It's just such a weird and wonderful throwaway detail. Still, even in the Eighties (the cinematic period that Hobo is primarily pastiching) there were plenty of films that were already providing, as you say, their 'target audience with exactly what they want while still managing to be aware of just how silly it all is.' Steet Trash (1987), e.g., is not a million miles from Hobo thematically, but even more outrageous, excessive and surreal.

Guy

3 years ago
This movie is very cool. The Plague are outstanding. Glad it's got UK distribution. Kudos to the director for an all round amazing film. Hauer and the lead actress are perfect in their roles. One of the coolest movies I've ever seen.

delarge

3 years ago
I'd been waiting for this for a while. I got it on R1 dvd. Mixed feelings. I wanted it to be great. It wasn't. It was good. Rutger was great value. The young girl too. __However I found the villain and his sons terribly annoying and stupid. It was almost like a film of two halves.__Watching the extras I can appreciate it's a first time film , lots of work went into it, just thought it was a touch more shitty Troma than more 70s exploitation/grindhouse chic.

Anton Bitel

3 years ago
Totally agree. One thing, though: perhaps the reason you 'thought it was a touch more shitty Troma than more 70s exploitation/grindhouse chic' is that most of the films and filmic sensibilities that it is mimicking and mocking (let's call it 'mimocking') are from the 80s rather than the 70s.

It is a beautifully realised imitation of a certain kind of shit - but that just makes it seem quite a lot like, well, a certain kind of shit.

Meanwhile, check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jYpiGgqT5Q - hilarious, transcendently tasteless, and really very well made. Every time I watch it, my jaw hits the floor. Just too many great scenes (including, of course, a Vietnam flashback) to list here.

Anton Bitel

3 years ago
Also, I thoroughly recommend Eisener's earlier Christmas cracker of a short, Treevenge: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vaiv7kAXBzM

delarge

3 years ago
Yeah true. But I wanted it to be a bit more like Vigilante ore even the likes of Coffy and that ilk. But good point it was more 80s 'mimocking'. I enjoyed it and went straight to the extras to get a bit more. It was never one to take seriously of course. I'll have a look out for Street Trash Hobo, looks tapped.

delarge

2 years ago
Hey Anton! Thanks to Arrow films re-releasing stuff I have been able to watch some of these old 'classics'.
I watched Street Trash yesterday, thought it was ridiculous, mental and pretty great!!
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