Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Review: Hobo With A Shotgun

Guess who’s got a new favorite movie of the year so far. If you said the Son of Celluloid (Nathan is also an acceptable answer) then give yourself 10 points and a pat on the back. I just got home from taking in what may be the best double feature I’ve ever witnessed. It concluded with one of my all time favorites, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. I don’t feel the need to talk about that one right now because, well, if you call yourself a horror fan you should have already seen it. What I am here to discuss is the first half of my night, Hobo with a Shotgun.

Hobo With a Shotgun is another flick based on a fake trailer from Grindhouse. Take a wild guess what it’s about. Yup, that’s right, a hobo with a shotgun. You guys are such smart cookies. Rutger Hauer plays the titular hobo. By the way, if anyone can name the song playing in the scene where he rides the train into town you win mad respect. That’s about all the prize I can muster right now. Hint: it’s from another classic exploitation movie. Anyway, he gets to Hope Town (aka Scum Town or F**k Town) and finds it controlled by a sadistic crime lord named The Drake and his two sons. They violently run the town with iron fists. All the hobo (we never do find out his name) wants to do is save up $49.99 for a lawnmower so that he can start up a business. After he makes friends with a hooker with the obligatory heart of gold, runs afoul of The Drake’s sons, and gets no help from the police, he decides that his money would be better spent on a shotgun. Twelve gauge in hand, he takes to the streets to deliver justice…one shell at a time.

What I’ve told you takes place in the first 15 of this movie’s 86 minutes. I will do my best to give away as little as possible of what happens in the last hour of the film. Take it from me, this is a movie that is best experienced with no idea what’s coming next. Please, for the love of god and for your own sake, don’t read any spoilers before you see this. It will be much more fun that way. I will say that a lot of the plot makes little sense. Hell, it has plot holes that…lets see, how can I describe this? If you took all of the plot holes in Friday the 13th 1-9 and put them in a truck, you could drive it through this films plot holes. That doesn’t matter though. Logic means nothing in a flick like this, and that’s the way it should be. The weirdness, unexpected twists, and “HOLY CRAP!” moments just keep on coming at breakneck speed, and it’s a hell of a ride. It’s like a really great Troma flick if you added a budget and took away the poop jokes.

I dig the visual style of this movie a lot. The filmmakers have managed to make it look like it comes from the grindhouse era without resorting to the fake film defects that were so overused in Grindhouse and Machete. The combination of Technicolor style color saturation and expressionistic lighting that would make Argento jealous gives it a gaudy, dream like quality. The city looks amazing. What a great setting. It reminded me a lot of the setting from Street Trash. When one of the characters insults the hobo by calling him “street trash,” I got the feeling that it wasn’t a coincidence. The camera is very fluid, sweeping and zooming constantly. Occasionally this devolved into that third person shaky cam I hate so much, but there was enough awesome on display here that it didn’t ruin the flick for me.

This is an extremely violent movie. It’s definitely the bloodiest thing I’ve seen in a theater since Hatchet 2. The violence is extremely creative too. We get a hell of a lot of shotgun blasts, but the filmmakers go far beyond that in their bloodletting. We have baseball bats covered in razor blades. We have a lawnmower used Dead Alive style. We have, and I’m not just ripping off Joe Bob here, literal Ice Skate-fu. We have…once again I have to stop. You have to see the stuff they came up with for yourselves. The splatter is amazing. A lot of taboos are broken in this film. The one that most surprised me was the complete disregard for the general “you don’t harm children” rule. There’s a lot of stuff in this film that would offend a lot of people. If you’re reading this blog, however, you’re most likely the kind of person who would get the humor that underlies it all. This is an exercise in bad taste at its finest and most entertaining. The gore effects are excessive and well done. If there was a single CGI effect it was so well hidden that my discerning eye didn’t catch it.

Most of the acting is almost as over the top as the subject matter. It is all grounded by the performance of Rutger Hauer though. He plays the hobo with such a believability and dead serious sincerity that you can’t help but buy into the scenario no matter how ludicrous it becomes. He delivers lines stone faced that lesser actors could never have pulled off without a “wink wink nudge nudge.” He was excellent. The rest of the cast did a good job, but Hauer was the standout. I can’t wait to see him as Van Helsing in Argento’s Dracula. How about that? Two Argento references in an article about a movie he had nothing to do with. Hmmm. The other two standouts were Molly Dunsworth as Abby the prostitute and Brian Downey as The Drake.

The writing deserves a special mention here. Whether or not anything dethrones Hobo with a Shotgun as my favorite movie of 2011, I can’t imagine anything dethroning it as the most quotable. In fact, this is the most quotable movie in many, many years. Maybe even since Office Space. The constant one-liners are so insane that you have to tip your hat to the writers for coming up with this stuff in the first place. It’s a highly stylized way of speaking that, while hilarious, makes perfect sense in the context of the movie. A couple of personal favorites include…

-“First I’m gonna have to wash this guy’s asshole off of my face.”

-“When life gives you razor blades, you make a baseball bat covered in razor blades.”

-“I’m gonna wash this blood off…with your blood!”

..and many many others. There’s one involving Mother Theresa “finger-banging you in hell” that had me laughing so hard that people in nearby rows were staring at me. There’s another one near the end that I’m not going to give away, but it’s so brilliantly cheesy that I’m honestly shocked Arnold never used it back in the 80’s.

I do have two problems with this movie. First is the third person shaky cam. It really irritated me at the beginning of the film. After about 20 minutes though, either they stopped doing it as much or I got so engrossed in the film that I didn’t notice it. The second is a nitpick that I have with a lot of films. I already said that logic isn’t important in a flick like this, but this one thing gets to me. The hobo shoots and shoots, and we see him constantly reloading the shotgun. We see him buy the shotgun. We never see him get any shells. Where’s his ammo coming from? Never mind that the pawn shop had loaded shotguns hanging openly on the wall in this crime infested town. That’s not important. Would it really have been that hard to include a shot of him grabbing a couple of boxes of ammo on his way out? Maybe even someone giving him some shells? I know that’s trivial and nit-picky, but the ammo thing always gets me. At least he had to reload the gun. I hate those “never ending ammo clips” you see in action flicks.

Hobo with a Shotgun is the kind of movie people are either going to “get” or not. I’ve read a couple of bad reviews, but they were by people who don’t like the ultra violent, cheesy, nihilistic, sleazy exploitation cinema of the 70’s and 80’s. If that kind of flick is your thing, you will love this movie as much as I did. If you took a rabid horror freak, showed him grindhouse flicks Clockwork Orange “clamped eyelids” style, fed him an 8-ball of cocaine and 10 hits of acid, then said “tell me a story,” the result would be a lot like Hobo With a Shotgun. It’s a retro ride into pure fun as hell, blood soaked insanity. It’s currently doing limited runs around the country, with a DVD release scheduled for July 5th. I highly recommend seeing it on a big screen. I give it two severed thumbs way up. Nathan says check it out as soon as possible if you are lucky enough to live in an area where it’s playing.

Oh yeah, one last thing before I go. Remember yesterday when I picked the astonishingly hot Mindy Clarke as Julie in Return of the Living Dead 3 as my favorite zombie? Dr. Jimmy Terror over at Dr. Terror’s Blog of Horrors apparently had the same idea and picked her too. I guess great minds think alike. Or maybe in this case, its sick minds think alike. Great sick minds think alike. There, that works. Dr. Terror is a friend of this blog, and has one hell of a cool blog himself. You should most definitely go check it out RIGHT HERE. Tell ‘em Son of Celluloid sent ya.

5 comments:

WYLL A MINA said...

i really enjoyed watching 'Hobo'! The one-liners were AWESOME! Soooo much blood and gore -- it made me smile :) i recommend it to any horror lover out there :)

Cash Wampum said...

Hobo was awesome. I sickened some very good friends with this one :)

Always a big fan of Rutger Hauer. Ever since The Hitcher.

Now that machete and Hobo are complete they HAVE to make Thanksgiving and I'm highly anticipating DON'T. That looks like it would just be insane!!

SonOfCelluloid said...

Thanksgiving and Don't definitely need to be made, but personally, I want to see Werewolf Women of the SS first. I love bad nazi-sploitation flicks, and if it had the same cast as the trailer it would be awesome.

Cash Wampum said...

I haven't seen anything top Ilsa in the Nazisploitation genre. Some have come close but thats the ultimate one.

SonOfCelluloid said...

Agreed.

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