CRIMEWATCH: Hobo With A Shotgun
The history of Hobo With A Shotgun goes back to the release of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez‘s modern exploitation double feature Grindhouse which held a contest for filmmakers to try to make the best exploitation style trailer in cooperation with the Austin Texas SXSW festival. With it’s simple, ‘straight-to the point’ title, over the top plot and classic exploitation film aesthetic, Hobo ultimately won and soon after turned into this full length feature.
A grizzled old hobo (Rutger Hauer) rides along on a train and the future looks promising. He smiles, looks out at the beautiful bright blue sky and gets ready for his new life at the next stop. When he arrives in Hopetown (retitled Scumtown by the residents) he discovers a hellish, war torn atmosphere of drug dealers, pimps, hookers, amateur terrorists, exploiteers of the homeless and deranged child molesters.
The Hobo takes in the sadistic sights and he begins collecting some plastic bottles so he can get refunds and buy a lawnmower (the thing his dreams are made of). While on his travels around town he encounters a truly shocking public execution as a man is turned into a human manhole cover and has his head torn off after which his blood sprays out furiously like a broken fireplug as the local citizens watch on in utter horror. Since that wasn’t high enough on the distasteful meter, a skinny skank decides to walk over and take a shower in the red liquid as it rains down. We find out this deplorable, despicable act was put in motion by the scum-kingpin of the town called “The Drake” (Brian Downey). Along with his two psychotic soldiers/sons Slick (Gregory Smith) and Logan (Robb Wells) the twisted family rules the area like cocaine snorting rabid dogs with tourettes syndrome.
As he walks through the night, Hobo comes across the disease-like Slick who he notices entering a local hotspot. He decides to take a closer look and follows him in, staying in the shadows. Slick confronts a local hooker named Abby (Molly Dunsworth) who had foiled his attempt at beating up a young boy who owed him money earlier. Hobo stays in voyeur mode but decides to intervene when it looks like Slick is going to rape Abby in the backroom. Our fearless Hobo proceeds to bash Slick with a sockful of quarters and delivers him to the local police station after which he learns even they are owned by The Drake. Slick arrives like a tasmanian devil and attacks The Hobo, carving him up like a cheap Thanksgiving turkey with a large knife and then swiftly has him tossed out with the trash. Luckily, Abby, the hooker with a heart of gold, rescues the Hobo and lets him crash at her apartment. This is where we finally have a break and get some actual human emotion as the two converse like normal people and the insanity outside subsides for a few minutes.
After witnessing several more violent acts as he tries to make some money in any way he can, Hobo’s disgust at the environment he’s living in inspires him to become a vigilante and clean up the streets using his titular shotgun. Lots of gun blazing rampages, super brutal murders, circus-like mayhem and seething, hate filled rants about injustice follow.
One can see pretty quickly this movies main goal is to take gore and violence to such heightened levels they become comical. There’s no way you could watch this film and not burst out laughing at the visions of fantastically unrealistic sickening violence and degradation being shown on the screen. It actually looks like a Kid Rock video gone horribly wrong. For instance, people are shot so many times they become unrecognizable hamburger, knives carve super deep gouges into flesh, woman and children are set afire in dumpsters, heads are nearly severed off bodies, shotguns blow crotches off yet these characters are able to survive, bleed some more and plead for their lives.
After seeing all types of the most offensive and disturbing exploitation film titles such as Last House on The Left , I Spit on Your Grave and Cannibal Holocaust to modern international shock cinema like Irreversible and Ichi The Killer, I can say that Hobo certainly reaches the outer limits of acceptable onscreen violence. While that is semi-entertaining by itself for a little while, it still left me feeling unsatisfied and unimpressed when it was all over. I guess in the end, for me, it’s about preferring the real thing over another easily forgettable new wave wannabe ripoff of those kinds of classic B-films I love.