‘Hobo with a Shotgun’ is a Brutal Throwback to the Grindhouse Era [Watch]

Welcome to The Overlook Motel, a place where under-seen and unappreciated films are given their moment in the spotlight. I hope you enjoy your stay here and find the accommodations to be suitable. Now, please take a seat and make yourself comfortable, I have some misbehaving guests to ‘correct’.

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This week, I am spotlighting the zany, neo-grindhouse flick, Hobo with a Shotgun. This feature has a fascinating origin story. It began life as a trailer created for a contest promoting the release of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse double bill. Despite being made for just $150, Jason Eisener’s trailer won the contest. It even aired prior to select screenings of Death Proof and Planet Terror. From there, Eisener was able to take his proof of concept and adapt it into a full-length feature. And it delivers exactly what the title promises.  

Hobo with a Shotgun follows The Hobo (Rutger Hauer) as he relocates to Hope Town. Upon arrival, the protagonist minds his own business and aspires to save up enough to buy a lawnmower. He starts off as mild-mannered and unassuming. But when he’s no longer able to turn a blind eye to the egregious criminal endeavors of a ruthless cartel boss, The Hobo must take up arms and reclaim his city.   

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Before I go any further, I should warn you that Hobo with a Shotgun is shockingly violent. It may not resonate with those sensitive to graphic depictions of carnage. However, much of the bloodshed is campy, over-the-top, and even comical at times. Comical seems like a strange word to describe the frequent displays of viscera, but it’s also quite fitting. The constant bloodshed is reminiscent of the cartoonish carnage one might expect from a Troma film. In fact, Hobo with a Shotgun has a lot of parallels to the early output of Lloyd Kaufman’s independent film operation. The surreal nature of the flick, the reprehensible characters, and the refusal to take anything seriously is very much in line with much of the output from the golden era of the indie distributor. 

Screenwriter John Davies injects plenty of dark humor and off-color dialogue into the narrative. And director Jason Eisener brings the story to life with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek. The end result is a whole lot of ridiculous fun. Eisener painstakingly recreates the look and feel of the grindhouse features of the ‘70s and ‘80s. He also throws in a massive helping of sleaze that rivals even the grittiest exploitation offerings of yesteryear.  

The main reason Eisener is able to get away with some of the more outrageous gags is because of the film’s comedic overtones. If the thematic elements in the flick were played straight, this picture would have almost certainly alienated its audience. But because the violence and the abhorrent behavior are depicted in a rather satirical fashion, the picture is able to push the envelope and the taste boundary.  

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The efforts of Eisener and Davies are helped along by a stellar performance from the late Rutger Hauer. The actor knows exactly what kind of film this is and has an absolute blast with the material. Equally impressive is Brian Downey (Lizzie Borden Took an Axe) as the scenery-chewing villain, Drake. Downey recites the patently bizarre dialogue with aplomb and conveys a legitimate sense of menace that transcends the comical nature of his performance.

At this point, you probably have a pretty good idea of whether or not Hobo with a Shotgun sounds like your cup of tea. But for anyone on the fence, allow me to try and temp you with the promise of erotic dance moves performed in a geyser of arterial spray, human hood ornaments, persistent foul language, and flamethrowers menacingly wielded against minors. 

If you’re eager to check the flick out, you can scope it for free (with ads) on Pluto as of the publication of this post. And if you’re a fan of under-seen cinema and keen to chat more, you can find me on Twitter: @FunWithHorror



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