PLOT: A hobo (Rutger Hauer) arrives in a town plagued with crime; which is ruled over by a crime lord named Drake (Brian Downey), and his two psychotic sons. Tired of the rampant crime, the titular hobo buys himself a used shotgun, and goes a-killin'.
REVIEW: It's finally here! I've been dying to see a full-length HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN feature ever since watching director Jason Eisener's fake trailer, that was good enough to win a place on the theatrical, and DVD copies of GRINDHOUSE. For years, Eisener's been promising we'd see a HOBO film, and once it was announced that Rutger Hauer would be taking the title role, I almost lost my shit.
I've been a Hauer fanatic ever since watching him slice up baddies in the great BLIND FURY. He also stars in one of my all-time favorite films, BLADE RUNNER, and has made a whole host of cool genre flicks, including LADYHAWKE, THE BLOOD OF HEROES, WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE, and a couple of great films with director Paul Verhoven, including SOLDIER OF ORANGE and FLESH + BLOOD.
Despite a pair of good roles in CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND, and BATMAN BEGINS, Hauer's been under the radar for the last fifteen years or so. HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN is a great comeback for the man, and despite his already carnage-streaked filmography, HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN still manages to be the most violent film he's ever appeared in.
Forget GRINDHOUSE or MACHETE. For real Grindhouse flavour, HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN is where it's at. This really feels like an authentic mid-eighties, direct-to-video nasty, like the kind Charles Band produced in his heyday. I've rarely seen a more extreme film, but of course, the violence isn't meant to be taken seriously. When the opening scene features Ricky from the TRAILER PARK BOYS getting decapitated, while a scantily clad woman writhes in pleasure under a fountain of his blood, you know this is going to be a wild ride.
Sure enough, over eighty-five minutes we get numerous decapitations, a bus-full of children getting blow-torched while 'Disco Inferno' plays on the soundtrack, a shotgunned castration, and all that doesn't even include the dozens (perhaps hundreds) of drug dealers, dirty cops, and pedophile Santa's that Hauer sends to hell. If you think that sounds like a good time- have at it. If not, well- you might want to skip this one.
For me, HOBO was a nonstop blast, and at times I found myself doubled over in hysteria at the complete insanity of the carnage I was watching on-screen. Director Eisener's done a bloody (pun intended) fantastic job of putting this together. It was likely a low-budget flick, sponsored partly by Telefilm Canada (meaning some of my taxes went into making this film, which is fine by me) and Canadian film conglomerate Alliance Atlantis. Despite the tight budget, Eisener's made this look great, with tons of terrific practical gore effects, really nice lensing by DP Karim Hussain, and a wicked Cannon Pictures style synth-score, complete with an deliriously cheesy closing can-con pop track.
Eisener really keeps the fun going throughout the film, while taking the piss out of all the usual genre clichés, including the father/daughter relationship with the hooker with a heart of gold (complete with sappy, piano scored interludes), the cops on the take, and some wicked one liners (“you and I are taking a car ride to hell, and you're riding shotgun!”). Especially inspired is the inclusion of an insane team of assassins, called “The Plague” that look like they stepped of the set of THE ROAD WARRIOR, and keep a squid as a pet. Brilliant.
As for Hauer, he's never anything less than amazing. In a unique twist, Hauer plays the whole thing deadly serious, with no winking at the audience (that's for the director to do, not the actors). Hauer delivers his intentionally clichéd, sappy monologues hilariously straight-faced, and this approach is incredibly effective, making an interesting contrast to the casts of PLANET TERROR and MACHETE, that played their parts for laughs. I really hope this leads to more kick-ass genre work for Hauer, as the guy's as good (if not better) than he's ever been.
In the meantime, I hope HOBO pays off big-time for Eisener and co., and if this launched a new wave of Canucksploitation (the Canadian Grinhouse tag from the seventies), I'd be happy as a clam. Anyone who loves a good balls-out insane action orgy needs to see HOBO, badly! I'd go so far to say HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN is damn close to being a masterpiece of the Grindhouse variety, and a job very well done by everyone involved.