Put him in the glory hole!!
Cast: Rutger Hauer, Brian Downey, Greg Smith, Molly Dunsworth
Director: Jesse Eisener
From my overall quote, that should give you a sense of what kind of film this is. Sly on it's riffs with modern society, and yet a glorious throwback to the days of yore when films were unabashedly violent and non-politically correct, Hobo with a Shotgun succeeds where Machete failed in a lot of ways. Gone are the political messages, thankfully, and instead Hobo plays out like an ode to the exploitation films of the 70's much more faithfully. A word to the weak stomached though, this film is not for you, so don't even bother. Many of the themes presented here are beyond offensive, so if you're the type that lets things like child killings, rape scenes, copious amounts of blood and murder bother you and not allow you to appreciate the whole of the film, don't even begin to consider watching this. With that warning out of the way, let's delve right in....
Rutger Hauer is the man. Between playing our hero here as the unnamed hobo, to the villain in Blade Runner, to Ladyhawke, he simply has a screen presence shared with a few other thespians of his time, such as Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, or Jack Nicholson. Hobo with a Shotgun benefits enormously from Hauer taking the material seriously, as silly as it becomes, and once he sets off on his vengeance spree after becoming fed up with the way Hope Town runs (or "F*ck Town" as the colorful locals refer to it from time to time), the movie really takes off and becomes more then just gratuitous shlock. If it wasn't anchored by his measured and entertaining performance, this film would have easily fallen apart, as he's really the only stand out thing about it. His disdain for the 'citizens' of Hope Town, and hokey but hilarious relationship with the cliched 'hooker with a heart of gold' Abbey (Dunsworth) makes the film's relatively short runtime bearable.
And that is about all the praise I can give for the acting department. Everyone else is either awful, or god awful, take your pick. Remember the movie Road House, with Patrick Swayze? Of course you do, any self respecting movie fan knows that 80's staple. Anyways, remember how the villain in that film ruled his little town with an iron fist? Well, that's essentially the plot of Hobo with a Shotgun, only the guy running Hope Town, Drake (Brian Downey), takes everything to the next level in a ridiculously over-the-top fashion right off the bat, who's sadism is only upstaged by his sons who wear sunglasses Matrix-style whether they're indoors or it's nighttime. These three characters may have earned the 'honor' of being the most vile, disgusting retches I've witnessed put to celluloid, even more so then the human creatures from 'The Hills Have Eyes' remake. Not only that, but most of their dialogue is filled with F-bombs galore, so you can't even make the argument that they are at least well written. I suppose the one credit I can give them is the unique way they kill people, as the film wears on you become more and more desensitized to the ultra violence on display, and curiously find yourself fascinated to see how the next death scene will occur.
However, while the acting can be downright atrocious, that doesn't take away that despite the initial weak 1st half of the film, it almost totally redeems itself in the 2nd. As I said, once Hauer's hobo takes it upon himself to clean up the town and butt heads with Drake and his boys, the film takes a darkly humorous course that finally makes you feel at ease for putting up with the first half of debauchery the director called a film (maybe I'm missing the point here, with it being an exploitation film, but eh lol). The stand out sequence obviously being the assault on the hospital by two individuals who call themselves "The Plague" (they are the two guys you saw in the trailer who are fully armored). This sequence is brutal, comical, and almost scary all at the same time, and the film plays with a variety of colors and film styles that made me reminisce Kill Bill a bit. Had the entirety of the film played out on this level, I would have given it the status of an instant cult classic, but sadly it doesn't.
If you are looking for any type of socially redeemable values, keep looking, as well. Beyond the hobo himself (who, if you think about it, isn't as honorable as the film portrays him to be, he's just a damn bum), there is not a single character to be found in this film that is worthy of the life they have. So once the shock value wears off about halfway through, in all likelihood you'll react the same way I did, in that you won't care who's being killed (regardless of whether it's children, mothers, hospital staff, f*ck it, anyone is game here), only 'how' they're killed. Sounds sick, I know, but if you don't roll with it, you might find yourself going crazy by the end. If anything, I found the climax actually pretty damn funny, as by that point I was merely reacting like a typical gore hound, hoping the next kill was more gruesome then the last.
Morally reprehensible, insanely over the top, but strangely amusing all things considered, Hobo with a Shotgun isn't a terrible movie. It in fact has several moments of greatness, and I bet if you watched it with a group of friends, you'd end up having a blast with it's absurdities. Most definitely a rental, and only for the non-squeamish.
Final Grade: C+