“When life gives you razor blades you make a baseball bat… covered in razor blades”
These words are spat out by Drake the King of Scum Town a man who rules the streets with a iron fist allowing his simple sadistic sons to play out whatever whim they desire along with the general population who survive by selling their bodies, their souls and their dignity to the highest bidder to with what they want.
Downtrodden, abused and living in fear with no one to turn to, the people of this corrupt and festering cess pit of a city are about to be saved by an unusual outsider who dares to stand up against Drake and all the evil and perversion he has allowed to infect and inflict on them and that man is a Hobo, a Hobo with a Shotgun.
A movie that wears its intentions and its influences on its arm like a bloody tattoo of a disembowelled dog you can probably tell from its title and the quote that opens this review that Hobo with a Shotgun is a gore-fest exploitation movie full of extreme violence that is not recommended to the fainthearted but very recommended to everyone else.
Created as a concept by Canadian Jason Eisener as a fake trailer which won an international contest to promote the release of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s double feature Grindhouse, Hobo with a Shotgun joins Machete as a fully fleshed out movie much in the same gushing vein.
From its opening titles to the Tangerine Dream inspired soundtrack to the brilliant Blu-Ray box itself (designed by British poster artist Tom Hodge) the movie is a living tribute to exploitation films of the 80’s and 90’s such as Street Trash, The Exterminator and Savage Streets. Arcades, Punks and VHS tapes all pop up along with a gull wing door car and some dodgy clothes all to give it even more authenticity.
This is not to say Hobo with a Shotgun is a trite tribute act or a retro rip-off far from it. Within the simplistic plot line is some brilliant dialogue and excellent performances which combined with the imagination and talent of Jason Eisener who directed and co-wrote the film, makes it an ultra violent thrill ride.
From the dirt ridden dystopian cityscape which is excellently realised to the lurid colour palette to the creative characters such as the biker knight assassin duo The Plague the movie is so extreme in its corrupt content and twisted ideas that it is almost a live action cartoon. Manhole cover decapitation’s, pedo Santa, a human piñata and a bus load of children burned alive to Disco Inferno all take place in Hobo with a Shotgun and more the gore although very well done is pushed so far it becomes comedic.
The film does have a serious side which is found in its exploration of people used and abused in a world where life is cheap and the people with the money and power are pure evil. Brian Downey relishes every scene as the despicable Drake playing ringleader to the circus of chaos he has created along with his sick sons played by Gregory Smith and Nick Bateman. At the other end of the spectrum is Molly Dunsworth’s Abby the hooker with a heart and a talent for customising weapons.
Hobo with a Shotgun however belongs to the Hobo himself played by the horror legend Rutger Hauer. Excellent in every movie he does from classics like Blade Runner and The Hitcher to not so classics like 7eventy 5ive Hauer always delivers and here he excels giving the character who could be a caricature a depth and sadness he conveys with a simple glance and a subtle squint on his world weary weathered face.
Desperate to save up money for a lawnmower to start his own business and get back the domestic bliss he lost long ago he is forced to fight back buying a shotgun instead and placing himself and his pump action on the perilous path of an anti-hero. Hauer is convincing and charismatic and holds our attention and sympathies as a victim and vigilante proving himself yet again as an underrated actor who deserves much more credit for his talent.
Blazingly brilliant and brutal from start to mucked up finish, Hobo with a Shotgun is a terrific tribute to the exploitation movies of old while upping the ante and the gore factor for horror and action films to come.