When the bloody double feature Grindhouse was released, the two featured movies had their supporters and detractors, but all four of the fake trailers -- Wright's Don't, Roth's Thanksgiving, Zombie's Werewolf Women of the SS and Rodriguez's Machete -- were loudly hailed as movies that needed to be made. However, few moviegoers got to see the fifth trailer, a fan-made contest winner called Hobo With a Shotgun. Widely praised online, it was about pretty much what the title says its about, and now it's the second trailer to get made into a full-length film. And not only is it infinitely more entertaining than Machete, it packs in so much hilariously over-the-top dialogue, inventive deaths and an overall body count that it makes Robert Rodriguez's film look like Spy Kids 4.
Rutger Hauer plays the hobo who rides into town in a boxcar, only to find that it's a malevolent cesspool of crime and depravity. Bum fights are video taped, children are abducted and citizens are chased down and decapitated for entertainment. The local crime boss, a vicious showman named The Drake (Brian Downey), rules the town through the iron fists of his two deceptively clean-cut sons, Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman). The hobo keeps himself clear of complications, but when a prostitute named Abby (Molly Dunsworth) is threatened by Slick, he intervenes and paints a target on his back. Bonding with Abby, the hobo longs to buy a lawnmower and leave town (a motivation that gets explained later), but when the pawn shop he's in gets robbed, he opts for the titular shotgun instead, blowing away the perps and moving on to the rest of the town's scum. But when The Drake turns the citizenry against the city's many homeless people, he has to run for his life. It's a tale as old as time!
The story is straightforward -- hobo gets shotgun, hobo shoots shotgun, hobo is marked for death by criminal empire -- but director Jason Eisener fills every shot with something to look at. As Drake berates his sons, topless women beat a man like a pinata in the background. At one point, Ivan fights the hobo using martial arts while wearing ice skates. And the whole movie takes a weird turn when The Drake calls in a pair of armored, possibly inhuman assassins called The Plague to deal with the hobo once and for all. On a visual level you never get bored, and the dialogue, while frequently and intentionally corny, has some amazing gems in it as well, from the hobo ("Put the knife away kid, or I'll use it to cut welfare checks from your rotten skin."), The Drake ("When life gives you razor blades, make a baseball bat covered in razor blades.") and various smaller players (Corrupt police chief: "Welcome to Fucktown!").
I've long believed that you can't simply create a cult classic film -- you need to aim to create something else, and then give it a few years to become a cult classic -- but Hobo is an instant cult classic, a tribute to old '70s and '80s genre movies that must know it's being silly and ridiculous, but refuses to admit it to the audience. Rutger Hauer wholeheartedly embodies the hobo, just as Downey does The Drake, and they form a deadly serious core at the center of this ridiculously awesome funhouse ride.
Hobo With a Shotgun makes its On Demand debut today, and will hit limited theaters on May 6. Tell us what you thought below, then read more movie reviews here!
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