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Hobo with a Shotgun(2011)
A hobo blows away anything that's crooked with his trusty pump-action shotgun.
For more about Hobo with a Shotgun and the Hobo with a Shotgun Blu-ray release, see Hobo with a Shotgun Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on June 30, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Rutger Hauer, Pasha Ebrahimi, Robb Wells, Brian Downey (I), Gregory Smith, Nick Bateman (II)
Director: Jason Eisener
» See full cast & crew
Hobo with a Shotgun Blu-ray Review
Is “Shotgun” a blast or a misfire?
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, June 30, 2011
Debut director Jason Eisener's Hobo with a Shotgun project is already the stuff of internet legend. In 2007, Eisener heard about a promotional "fake trailer" contest for Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez' Grindhouse collaboration, and armed with $150 bucks, some willing actors, plenty of fake blood, and an eye for '70s exploitation cinema, he introduced YouTube to the titular shotgun-wielding hobo, a homeless vigilante intent on cleaning up his home—the streets. The trailer got over a million hits and was actually attached to some prints of Grindhouse in Canada. Shortly thereafter, Alliance Films approached Eisener to spin the trailer into a feature, and four years later, after much hype, what was once essentially a no-budget piece of YouTube fan art has become a proper full-length movie. But perhaps "proper" isn't the right word. Let's get this out of the way out front: if you're at all easily offended—by pedophilic Santas, decapitations, burning school buses full of children, etc.—this isn't the film for you. That said, if the succinct, tell-all title Hobo with a Shotgun instinctively tickles your urge for splat-stick violence and absurdist comedy, you'll probably be entertained.
I say "probably" because Hobo with a Shotgun does deliver the gory, impossibly violent goods—and it's occasionally very funny—but it doesn't quite live up to its own hype. If you've seen the faux-trailer, you've basically seen the film. It all comes down to expectation. If you watched the trailer and thought, "I want more of that," you'll have a blast here—particularly if you're watching with a bunch of like-minded, mildly inebriated friends—but if you look at Hobo soberly, you might be left a little underwhelmed by how much better the film could've been.
The wisely short 86-minute movie does have what you might loosely call a story. Our nameless Hobo, played straight-faced by former Blade Runner baddie Rutger Hauer, rides a train car into Hope Town, a suburban wasteland that's been taken over by punks, thugs, and corrupt cops. We're quickly introduced to The Drake (Brian Downey), an impresario of death and destruction who dresses like a TV evangelist and runs the town with his bratty drug-dealing sons, Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman), a pair of preppy reprobates who wear Ray-Bans and drive a sports car with gull-wing doors. The Drake rules through fear, and one of his favorite terror-inducing spectacles is to attach a custom manhole cover around the neck of a victim, drop the poor guy feet first down a manhole so that only his head is sticking out, and creatively decapitate him, leaving a spouting geyser of arterial blood. If you need additional insight into his character, his credo is: "When life hands you razor blades, you make a baseball bat covered in razor blades."
The Drake also owns an arcade where delinquents play freakshow torture games—like pulping victims' skulls between two bumper cars—and its here that the Hobo takes his first stand, protecting a compassionate prostitute named Abby (Molly Dunsworth), who gives him a place to stay. By eating glass on camera for a seedy "bum fights" videographer, the Hobo earns enough cash to buy a lawnmower—he wants to get back on his feet by starting a landscaping business—but while he's in the pawn shop a gang of robbers burst in and take a woman and her baby hostage. Naturally, the hobo reaches for the shotgun on the wall and blows the thieves away. "I'm going to sleep in your bloody carcasses…TONIGHT!" he screams, the first of several memorable one-liners.
Thus begins the Hobo's street-cleaning rampage. He's the homeless equivalent of De Niro in Taxi Driver or Charles Bronson in Death Wish, and there's a great montage of mini-vignettes where he takes out a series of evil-doers: drug dealers and sex traffickers, a pervy Santa and a pimp who specializes in under-aged girls. The hobo is lauded in the press (sample headline: "Hobo Stops Begging, Demands Change), but when The Drake threatens to kill the townsfolk's children unless they start murdering any and all street people, everyone but Abby turns on our pump- action hero.
Eisener and screenwriter John Davies have clearly studied the no-budget vigilante crime fighting films of the 1970s and '80s—and the Troma brand of filmmaking—and it seems like their sole intent is to take the inherent sleaziness of the genre and amplify it exponentially. Everything about Hobo with a Shotgun is ridiculously, deliciously over-the-top. The exploding squibs, the neon-drenched set design, the hokey dialogue, the maniacal villains—by the second act, the film has already ascended to a realm of anything-goes absurdity, where the iceskate-wearing Ivan can commit "skate rape," where Slick can take a blowtorch to a school bus full of children, and where we're introduced to "The Plague," a pair of armored android mercenaries who, at one point, do battle with a giant octopus. Really.
The whole thing is gleefully anarchic, attempting to one-up itself in each new scene. This is good fun in the moment, but when you step back from the visceral thrills, Hobo seems too studied, and this sense of self-awareness—while precisely the point—is what has held back these kinds of revisionist grindhouse "experiences," from Kill Bill to Machete. They simply don't have the grimy authenticity of the films they're trying to ape. Rutger Hauer, however, is the real deal. He's been in z-grade movies before, and he's the perfect choice for the Hobo, playing him with an unlikely mixture of deadpan ferocity and tenderness. There's no real social undercurrent here about homelessness, but Rutger's down-and-out performance is so effective that if I ever saw him on the street—even knowing that he probably has a boatload of cash—I'd feel moved to hand him a fiver and help him get that lawnmower he's always wanted.
Hobo with a Shotgun Blu-ray, Video Quality
A real low-budget exploitation film would be shot on dingy 16mm, but—believe it or not—Hobo with a Shotgun was actually filmed digitally, using the Red Mysterium X camera system. The filmmakers thankfully stopped shy of adding gratuitous scratches and jitters to the image—the ultimate in fakery—but the 1080p/AVC-encoded image has been given plenty of grittiness and warped colors in post-production. The picture is insanely saturated at times, with a palette of intentionally garish primary and neon colors that burst off the screen. The street graffiti is vibrant and the ample blood is bright Crayola red. Skin tones veer into severely ruddy territory at times, but this is all part of the scheme. For you photographers who know what I'm talking about, the image often looks like cross-processed slide film. This is not a movie you judge by any objective picture quality standards. Still, I think it looks great, and probably exactly as intended. The picture is quite sharp, with exceptionally fine detail visible in Rutger Hauer's wrinkles and ratty flannel clothing. I'm assuming grain was added in post and that this isn't a transfer of a digital-to-35mm print, but either way, it adds texture and warmth of the film, keeping it from looking too clean. Finally, there aren't any blatant compression problems. When I think exploitation movie, I usually think "twice-duped VHS tape," but Hobo with a Shotgun looks excellent in high definition.
Hobo with a Shotgun Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Again, if this were a real '70s exploitation flick, it would come with a muffled, dynamically limp mono track, but that's fortunately not the case. Hobo with a Shotgun gets the now-standard DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 treatment, and the results are generally great. First things first, the score is simply perfect, using wobbly synthesizer arpeggios, square-wave bass, and lots of drum machine tom-tom fills. There's some disco and '70s wah-wah guitar in there too, naturally, but most of the music emulates the John Carpenter-style horror scores of the 1980s. It's awesome, and it sounds excellent, filling all channels. The rest of the track delivers exactly what you'd expect—namely, lots and lots of punchy shotgun blasts, exploding often through the rear speakers. The surrounds are used frequently for effects and ambience, from screams and thunderclaps to the cheering/jeering of Hope Town's twisted citizens. If there's one downside to the near-constant and loud use of the rear channels, it's that the vocals up front sometimes seem too low in the mix. I found myself toggling the volume up and down on a few occasions. Otherwise, no real problems here. The disc includes optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Hobo with a Shotgun Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Magnolia and the filmmakers have compiled an epic amount of bonus material for fans, charting the movie's course from 2-minute trailer to feature- length film.
Hobo with a Shotgun Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
While Hobo with a Shotgun doesn't quite live up to the perfection of its straight-to-the-point title, the film will be cinematic crack cocaine for a certain crowd—midnight movie fans, gorehounds, and Troma aficionados looking for something marginally more polished. Magnolia Home Entertainment has given the film a solid Blu-ray presentation, and better yet, they've crammed the disc with special features. Make this the feature presentation of your next weekend get-together, supply plenty of booze, and you're almost guaranteed a good night. Recommended, but not for the squeamish.
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Hobo with a Shotgun Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Hobo with a Shotgun on Blu-ray in July - April 28, 2011
Magnolia Home Entertainment have announced that they will release on Blu-ray Jason Eisener's Hobo with a Shotgun (2011), starring Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner, Split Second), Robb Wells (Trailer Park Boys: Countdown to Liquor Day), Brian Downey (Whirligig), and Pasha ...
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