Pump-Action Redemption: Hobo with a Shotgun Is My Religion — Movie Review

Initial Release: May 2011
Rhombus Media, Whizbang Films Inc., Yer Dead Productions
[Did you get that? This movie is brimming with so much awesome epicness, it took THREE production companies to create.]

Staring:
Rutger Mother Fucking Hauer;
One of the kids from Mel Gibson’s Patriot movie;
A shotgun;
Blood.

Directed by Jason Eisener [who?]

First, watch this shit:


It happens to be the season in which we, with solemn respect and reverence, bow our heads and examine our hearts in remembrance of The Battle of Hope Town. Our nameless, elderly, homeless boxcar traveler, our esteemed Lord and Hobo, offered his life in remission of Drake. We, the long-suffering faithful, await the return of The Hobo at rail crossings and train yards to cleanse our broken cities across this dishonorable and debased nation. Until then, may He hear our sincere prayers and bestow upon us a lawnmower; if not a lawnmower, an angelic prostitute and a 12-gauge shotgun.

I’m convinced Hobo with a Shotgun has to be a depiction of divine-inspired historical events as there is no way a movie made for only a few hundred Canadian dollars and 10 barrels of theatrical blood can be this revolutionary.They call it a “grindhouse-type” of film, but I think that’s not the most appropriate term for what Hobo portrays. It’s more so a “1980’s revenge horror-comedy”—that’s the best way I can describe it. Unless you’re a big fan of Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez, and you know their backgrounds, you’re not going to get the whole grindhouse association.

Last Thursday, Rodriguez held a contest to create fake grindhouse trailers, and the concept of Hobo with a Shotgun won the prize of being made into a entire feature film. New actors were chosen; but the original Hobo, unknown David Brunt, appears in one scene as a cop and has only one line.

From my limited understanding, the original grindhouse term was applied to ratty theaters showing cheap and sloppy action/exploitation films in the 1970’s. Apparently, many of the films were produced as excuses to show tits, ass, and gory violence to wanking men in trench coats, or something. I’ve seen a small selection of movie clips from the old genre, and I didn’t enjoy them very much. But it’s strange because I can dive into movies like Hobo with a Shotgun, Machete, and Planet Terror, and I’ve realized their real charm is that they’re genius parodies of the extinct grindhouse genre. They now appeal to your even more depraved side of perhaps “wanting” to be exploited, whereas the old movies might have appealed more to your curiosity and base instincts.

I don’t think simply weaponizing someone is exploiting them, either. The Hobo is not a drunk, he’s not a disabled veteran (that we know of), and he’s trying to better his life. He’s more akin to a protective grandfather bear.

See how much we’ve advanced as a society? There is hope after all—people actually do want intriguing plots and good character development. (Although, if you’ve ever experienced the raw power and satisfying chambering mechanics of a pump-action shotgun, you know there’s a neuronic itch being scratched somewhere deep in your brain.) I know us fans enjoy the movie for all its attributes. I’ve probably seen Hobo with a Shotgun about 20 times, and I’ve watched some select clips more than that.

The movie progresses fast so it’s easy to watch even if you don’t like it. It’s definitely not for everyone; you maybe would have had to recognize the humor in The Human Centipede. During the opening credits, The Hobo is lounging in a boxcar enjoying the cross-country scenery, and it seems like the next minute it’s dark and someone with a switchblade is carving letters into his chest.

Night is precarious for anyone not traveling in a gang in Hope Town. In fact, the citizens call it “Fuck Town.” The daytime is not any safer as there are armed robberies, people eating glass for money, young girls being pimped, and even a beheading via sewer grate and barb-wire.

Maybe I’ve seen this movie so much because I really wish there would be a video game for this film. The two mediums would compliment each other well in this case. While you watch Hobo, try to assemble the levels, enemies, and boss fights in your imagination. There is even a scene portraying a teenage coke addict playing a fictional 16-bit arcade cabinet featuring “The Plague.” (The game reminded me of the old Narc from 1988, though it would be much more epic cutting down scum while wearing The Plague’s intimidating armor.)

These two ancient semi-robotic bounty hunters are summoned after The Hobo by The Drake — the main bad guy controlling Hope Town. Grinder and Rip of The Plague are simply two of the coolest characters ever depicted in cinema. Boba Fett and the rest of the disappointments on the bridge of Darth Vader’s star destroyer wish they were in the same class. The Plague are so fucking awesome they should have their own comics, movies, games, novels, action figures, pajama pants, bubble bath, PEZ dispensers, sheet sets, Netflix original series, etc.

The Drake (not nearly as cool) is your typical over-the-top megalomaniac, loud and one-dimensional, and he’s in-charge of a shit hole rife with police corruption and intimidated masses. He acts similar to the evil game show host Damon Killian from the sadistic Running Man movie [1987; starring Arnold Schwarzenegger]. Just like their father, The Drake’s two sons, Slick and Ivan, are committing their own detestable acts, and everything they do is so unexpected, memorable, and extreme.

And that’s the big appeal of Hobo with a Shotgun: Yes, it seems like a simple story, but almost every scene, sound, and sentence are expertly crafted to dig a lasting impression in your mind. And I think it was meant to be more funny than shocking. Even The Hobo’s motivation isn’t necessarily “revenge” — he’s really driven insane with a sense of duty, having little regard for himself. In that respect, he’s kind of like Batman from the Tim Burton movies, though, The Hobo is surprisingly much more lovable and generates a lot more on-screen empathy. No one else could have played this role but the worshipful Rutger Hauer — and it’s his best-ever performance.

Abby, the young street-walker who befriends and cares for The Hobo, wants to escape Hope Town’s oppression by partnering with Him in a traveling lawn care business. She has her own unexpected breaking-point at the end of film which is quite cathartic, and I wish I could tell you exactly how epic it is, but it involves a lawnmower and a pound of duct tape. The Hobo does blow a bunch of people away in righteous judgement, but at the end I loved where her story went more than anything.

So, all of these elements are complimenting each other to create such an awesome experience. In addition the color is over-saturated, the music is appropriately cliche, and the dialogue is acute and succinct. There a very few stretches of wandering soliloquies as there’s always something happening or just about to happen. If people are talking for more than twenty seconds, you know someone’s about to die.

To give you one example: While The Hobo and Abby are making plans in her apartment, Slick and Ivan—who’s wearing ice skates, by the way—strut to the door. On their way, Ivan shouts to his brother, “It’s a beautiful day for a skate rape!” I later learned the line was ad-libbed by temporarily insane actor Nick Bateman, a very clean-cut model and disciplined martial arts expert. Was making this movie so corruptible it would inspire things from people you never thought would be that crassly creative?

I really love Hobo with a Shotgun and everything about it. If it had a church, I’d sing in it’s choir every Sunday and partake in it’s bloody communion. It’s that good and I don’t give a fuck what anyone else says.

What? It has only a paltry 6.1 on imdb.com? That’s fucking ridiculous, especially when you realize that boring, stupid Marvel cartoon, Thor, which also was released in 2011, has a charitable 7.0. Most of the movies I see nowadays have too many computers, too much money, and too much marketing to guarantee their success from the ticket-zombies. The extensive trailers and leaked footage are manipulated PR pieces to generate “buzz,” unlike Hobo’s short ten dollar-made trailer which inspired the movie’s very existence.

If that doesn’t give Hobo with a Shotgun the biggest pair of balls in cinema, whatever, I don’t know what else you’d want for a truly inspired experience. If you’re going to be exploited either way, wouldn’t you rather be oppressed by this little movie other than the people in the boardrooms of Disney or Sony Pictures?


Postscript—

Nick Bateman also played Rip from the Plague. He was initially hired just for that role because of his extensive martial arts and weapons background.

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