Hobo With a Shotgun (2011)A column article by: Ben Martini, Paul Brian McCoy
Hobo With a Shotgun (2011)
Director: Jason Eisener
Writers: Jason Eisener, John Davies, Rob Cotterill, and John Davies
Starring: Rutger Hauer, Brian Downy, and Molly Dunsworth
Paul Brian McCoy: This makes the second of the Grindhouse trailers from the Tarantino/Rodriguez Grindhouse production to be made into a feature film, the first being Machete. I have to say, I think Hobo With a Shotgun out grindhouses Machete.
Ben Martini: Absolutely.
Paul: And I kind of loved Machete, to be honest.
Ben: It was fun but it got a little long in the tooth. Then it fell into the trap of taking itself a little too seriously.
Hobo impresses me most because it walks that line between parody and serious exploitation without making fun of itself.
Paul: I think a lot of that is down to Rutger Hauer's performance as the Hobo. He takes his role totally seriously and it manages to build a spine that all the crazy shit can hang itself from.
Ben: Rutger was the craziest I've seen him since The Hitcher. Was that before or after Blade Runner?
Paul: After. Right after his medieval mercenary in Flesh and Blood. But before his blind swordsman in Blind Fury.
Ben: Then I guess he was the craziest I've seen him since Blade Runner. Although, I think his replicant character would have been more afraid of Hobo than of Harrison Ford.
Paul: Anyone with a brain would be. Hobo wasn't conflicted about his job. Well, not after deciding to spend his money on the Shotgun instead of the Lawnmower, anyway.
Ben: I thought that was a wise move on his part. But, honestly, after seeing the use to which the lawnmower was eventually put, I could have been just as happy with Hobo with A Lawnmower.
Ben: Maybe a good sequel title.
Paul: "You Grow It, We Cut It! And By 'It' We Mean CRIME!"
Paul: You know, even that little slogan for the imaginary grass-mowing business he wanted to start made me happy. And that was just because they didn't rhyme "grow it" and "mow it". Going for "cut it" just tickled me.
Ben: Another refreshing thing about this movie, as an action flick, was the lack of CG effects. It harkened back to a time when directors had such little money to plunk into a film, the emphasis was on the nuts and bolts of filmmaking. Solid camera work and tight, tight editing.
Paul: That was refreshing. No CGI blood splatter. That shit was real.
I mean, fake, but...aw, you know what I mean.
Ben: Oh. I thought it was real. Damn.
Paul: One thing I learned from this film is that the homeless are apparently pretty fragile and their body parts explode into bloody messes after just about any violence.
Ben: You know, of all the retro-movies that have come out (House of the Devil, Black Dynamite, etc.) this has to be the best I've seen.
Paul: I agree.
Ben: If you jumped into a DeLorean and went back in time to the 80s, you could release this film without anyone knowing it came from the future.
Paul: Hobo doesn't just embrace the nostalgia or swing toward parody. It seems to be built from the ground up the same way those 80s films were. It has more in common with a classic Troma film than anything else being made today.
In America anyway. It's right in line with the current crop of Japanese splatter films.
Ben: That's true.
Paul: I'd easily sit through a Hobo With a Shotgun / Tokyo Gore Police double-feature.
Ben: That would be fantastic!
Paul: Maybe throw Tromeo and Juliet in there to class the joint up for a Triple-Feature
Ben: Hell, I knew when the tentacles popped up in Hobo, the director had to be a big fan of Japanese entertainment.
Paul: Introducing those characters, The Plague, was actually pretty daring on writer/director Jason Eisener's part. They took it from a standard grindhouse style vigilante film into something weird and very different.
I mean, those guys killed Jesus. And Joan of Arc. And Lincoln.
Immortal assassins who, when one is killed, the killer must take their place. Unless, apparently, they just refuse to join. That's awesome right there.
Ben: Like you said, at that point, it started to lean more toward films like Tokyo Gore Police.
Paul: That's the point where it would probably lose some fans. I wasn't sure what to make of it at first, but decided to love it.
It separates the wheat from the chaff.
Ben: The movie won me over so completely by that point, I was ready to go with whatever the director brought out.
Paul: Yeah, opening the damn film with Ricky (Robb Wells) from Trailer Park Boys getting beheaded pretty much did it for me.
Ben: Yeah, seeing Ricky was like giving me candy and flowers. I definitely put me in the right mood to love it.
Paul: I really expected him to bum some smokes before they tore his head off.
Ben: Heheheheh. I can just hear Bubbles saying to him, "Well, Ricky, you've really put your foot into it this time. Gosh, I don't know what the fuck you're gonna do!"
Paul: Oh shit. Bubbles showing up would have melted my brain.
Ben: I'm not sure exactly why, but the movie performed this weird magic on me, making really care about these characters. And I have no idea why. There is no definable reason why I should have liked those protagonists as much as I did.
I think the reason may be that they're so sincere. Hell, they even had a John Steinbeck moment, talking about running away to their dream home together.
Paul: That's true. Nobody plays this like a joke. That's what made the best Troma films work, too.
Ben: As dopey as the "bear" talk and the stuff about her being a teacher was, it still worked.
Paul: I think, and I don't know why I think this, but the use of Technicolor really helped to set up the fantasy of this town. Hope Town, heh heh. Or Scum Town or Fuck Town depending on who was naming it.
The vividness of the colors from the very first shots as Hauer is riding in on the train just oversaturated my brain.
Ben: Yeah, it did have a strange, unearthly glow about it. Maybe that's also why the gore seemed so vivid.
Paul: The reds were REALLY red.
Everything about this film was turned up as loud as it could be.
Ben: This director knows how to shoot violence and gore, I'll say that. Despite the fakeness of it, it still made me cringe. And I'm fairly jaded.
Paul: Yeah, especially things like the hand in the lawnmower blades, or the attempt to hacksaw the hooker's head off.
Ben: Oh yeah. Ouch.
Paul: This whole film was like a Master's Class on low-budget gore filmmaking.
Ben: I'm waiting for Peter Jackson's Bilbo with A Shotgun.
Paul: Ha! Did you ever see the short film this director did called Treevenge? About when the Christmas Trees wake up and fight back?
Ben: No! I have to see this.
Paul: It's on YouTube. Dr. Girlfriend and I watch it every Christmas.
Ben: Oh yeah, I have to see that.
Paul: J-Roc and Sarah from TPB are the leads in that one.
Ben: Did the director work on TPB?
Paul: Nope. He's just Canadian. Heh.
Ben: It looks like he also did The Teeth Beneath.
Paul: I don't know what that is, but it conjures images that make me very uncomfortable.
Ben: I've heard about it, but I haven't seen it.
Paul: The new film he's working on is apparently called Blatant Violence High, combining classic tournament fighting films with high school.
Ben: I thought it was called The ABC's of Death?
Paul: That's a different project with a bunch of directors doing segments. That sounds interesting too, though.
Ben: Yeah, I'm very curious to see whatever he does next.
Paul: So, I think I'd give this one a 4 out of 5 on the Comics Bulletin bullet scale, and that scale has never been so appropriate.
Ben: I have a softer heart, so, personally, It's a for me. I simply can't ask for more from a movie. I also have a soft spot for hobos since I'll probably end up being one.
Paul: You know, I think you may be right. There was never a moment in this film where it wasn't engaging.
Ben: I have serious movie ADD, and my eyes never once wandered from the screen.
Paul: I think I'll adjust my rating to a . It wasn't a perfect film experience, but it was damn close.
Ben: On behalf of Rutger Hauer and hobos everywhere, I thank you.
Ben Martini watches lots of movies, plays lots of video games, and sometimes reads things. He is not lazy, he is just conserving energy for the apocalypse. Which, by the way, will not involve zombies, and is taking way too long to happen. One day he is going to do some stuff or something. But right now he doesn't give a shit. He also wants to know what happened to his hat. The green one.
Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor to Shot for Shot. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One will be going on sale next week for Kindle and Nook, but can already be sampled and/or purchased at Smashwords. He is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy and blogging occasionally at Infernal Desire Machines.