“I’m tired of these muthafuckin’ hobos with these muthafuckin’ shotguns!” My lips will never speak these words. I stumbled upon Hobo with a Shotgun while randomly surfing the net for movies. When it came up, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Did somebody really have the balls to make a movie that combined two of my favorite things, hobos and shotguns? And who else would take on such a daring project but Grindhouse co-director Jason Eisener? What started off as a joke trailer was just too good to pass up.
Hobo with a Shotgun is a vigilante, Western, over-the-top, comic book movie that takes place in a burnt-out city. The movie opens up with a shot of a lonesome hobo (Rutger Hauer) riding the rails. The music and look gives the impression of a 70’s Blaxploitation flick. This feeling is nailed home when the opening credits informs you that this film has been brought to you by Technicolor. The train slows to a stop and the mysterious hobo jumps off at a random city. He quickly discovers that he’s arrived at the asshole of the world. The city is nightmarish depiction of what America would look like if the Republican Party was to win every election for the next 50 years. Rampant poverty plagues this small city that’s been overrun with gangs, drugs, pimps, child molesters, and everything else imaginable. The good citizens are powerless and afraid to do anything.
The hobo quickly learns that the city is ran by The Drake (Brain Downey), the town hotshot lunatic, and his two psychotic sons, Ivan (Nick Bateman) and Slick (Gregory Smith), who run around in 80’s Tom Cruise get-ups. These are some of the best villains I’ve seen in a long time. You can’t help but hate these two douche bags and, at the same time, acknowledge that they are so bad-ass. If the Clockwork Orange gang would have been American teens, they’d probably be a lot like Ivan and Slick. Straight from the get-go, these three guys let you know how they roll when they use a sewer lid, barbwire noose, and pickup truck to decapitate some poor bastard. I’d seen a lot of slasher films and that was a first for me. Meanwhile, the cops are absolutely corrupt, so whatever you do, don’t call 911.
I do admit, the prostitute with the heart of gold (Molly Dunsworth) was forgettable, filling in the token role of the damsel in distress, and the story is a bit on the generic side, coming dangerously close to resembling Taxi Driver. I could guess where the movie was heading, but even with a somewhat predicable storyline, the limits this movie pushed kept me glued. It’s absurd how much violence this movie and one liners this movie has. Thankfully, the director keeps upping the level of violence, thereby making sure you never become desensitized to buckets of gore. The creative ways in which people die kept things interesting. There’s a lot of influence from 80’s and 90’s video games and pop culture. A lot of the music is cheesy synthesizer tunes you’d expect to hear from you Sega Genesis. Very cool.
A lot of people have dissed on this movie, saying it’s all senseless violence and there’s nothing redeemable about watching it. I say those people are fags. Hobo with a Shotgun does everything most directors wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. It has Hollywood subversion written all over it. If Marvel’s The Punisher was to lose his job and be reduced to begging for spare change, he would most definitely pick up a shotgun, thus becoming a hobo with a shotgun. This is one of the best “bad” movies I’ve seen in a long time. Honestly, this deserves to take the Oscar. Bad humor, mega gore, dystopia, and pure ridiculousness. What isn’t to love? Could of used some zombies, but I think that for everything.
photo credits in order of appearance