Friday, August 05, 2011

Movie Review - Hobo With a Shotgun (2011)

I can't begin to tell you how much anticipation I felt about seeing this movie. I'd stalked the film's progress on my usual haunts like Dread Central and Bloody Disgusting. I drooled over the early release photos and waited like a kid on Christmas Eve for what I was certain would be an awesome movie. How could you go wrong with the simple premise of this movie. Say it with me, "Hobo with a Shotgun".

Hobo with a Shotgun. Starring Rutger Hauer.

Even the name drips with fucking win. That's a piece of fried gold there.

And I was not disappointed!

I managed to get a copy yesterday, a mere two days after its release, and I could barely wait for the family to go to bed last night so that I could pop it into the old DVD player and bask in the warm, comforting glow of Doctor Zombie's telescopic viewer of doom.

And it was a luxuriant glow. It was a wondrous glow. It was a glow that flashed red because of all of the bright, bloody gore effects this movie was filled with.

When the credits rolled, I was a happy undead scientist. Very happy.

Hobo with a Shotgun started as one of the trailers to Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse. Several of the trailers have been made into real movies, or at least started to take the steps in that direction. Most notable of them has been Machete, starring Danny Trejo. Rob Zombie keeps teasing us about Werwolf Women of the SS, but there's been no movement or news on that for a while. No big deal there. It'd probably just be another vehicle for him to cast his wife and show the world how great her tits are, despite her utter lack of acting ability.

The thing is, the faux trailers in Grindhouse were, in all respects, better than the main films themselves. Planet Terror was great because I love me some zombie goodness, and Josh Brolin totally stole the show... but Death Proof painfully showed why someone needs to up Quentin Tarantino's ADHD meds and rein him in.

Dude needs a leash. Seriously.

But the trailers were incredible, and the movies based on them, have, to date, been pretty bad. I wasn't impressed with Machete. It became less of a grindhouse movie and more of a big budget, who's who in Hollywood film. That and I shudder to think that Jessica Alba would, in any way shape or form, kiss on Danny Trejo - much less sleep with him. Danny's fucking badass, but leading man material he's not. I've seen beef jerkey with less wrinkles. Seriously - the moon has fewer craters than his face. But I digress...

What I'm getting to here is that Grindhouse became a victim of its own hubris. The style of film, and the attempt to capitalize on it, doomed its follow up films to failure.

Hobo with a Shotgun, however, redeems it all!

Fully capturing the essence of those classic grindhouse films and exploitive action flicks of the 70's and 80's that Doctor Zombie loves so dearly, Hobo with a Shotgun tells the story of, well, a hobo (played by Rutger Hauer), who comes to a new town and runs afoul of the pervasive criminal elements there.

And that, dear reader, is too succint a summary to fully explain the plot. It's simple really. Let me try again. Hobo comes to town. Hobo meets crazy over the top, impossible to believe bad guys. Hobo is smitten with a beautiful prostitute. Hobo gets involved where hobo shouldn't. Hobo gets 'scum' carved into his chest. Hobo loses his mind. Hobo goes crazy with a shotgun.

This movie works on so many levels. It fully embraces the grindhouse ethos and never breaks from it. The director, Jason Eisner, has said in interviews that he was going for a comic book feel; but the look of this film is so much more. The colors are bright, garish and give it the authenticity of an 80's film where such visual excess was de rigeur. And, the slavish dedication to this aesthetic makes the cheer-inducing visual effects (no fucking CGI here! wOOt!) even better. The blood and gore is bright, vibrant, and pleased Doctor Z. to no end!

And this movie's got gore galore! Whther its decapitations, or gratuitous spraying founts of blood, or unrealistic but oh-so-awesome exploding heads, this movie has everything a panting gorehound could want.

The true strength, however, is in the acting and interplay between Rutger Hauer and the main female character, prostitute Abby. Played by the beautiful (too beautiful to be a whore, at least) Molly Dunsworth, Abby takes a stereotype(the hooker with a heart of gold) and makes it somehow believable again. And she gets bonus points for being on the receiving end of some great mechanical effects and wading unashamedly though the knee deep fake blood that soaks the landscape of the film. She's smart, sassy, and loyal to a fault.

Rutger Hauer on the other hand, is the true force behind the success of Hobo with a Shotgun.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a HUGE Rutger Hauer fan. Always have been. Going back to the 80's, I've loved him as Nick in Blind Fury, and Ettienne in Lady Hawke. From his thrilling turn as the homicidal yet tragic android, Roy Batty, in Blade Runner to his psychotic turn in The Hitcher; from his 'I-need-a-job-i-don't care' low budget forays, to his big budget normal roles like his corporate scumbag in Batman Begins... Rutger never fails to deliver. And don't forget his role in Surviving the Game! I can't help but think of that movie EVERYTIME I go hunting! I love him in everything I've seen him in.

And he's done more of the regular straight roles lately. Which I get. We're all getting older.

His character, The Hobo, though? It's a throwback to the 80's Rutger Hauer that was so fucking cool. Once again he's that crazy, irrascible, incredible actor I love so dearly.

And, the best part is that this role, while it's a nutty, over the top, caricture of classic grindhouse characters, is made better by Rutger's ability to act.

You find yourself caring about The Hobo and his relationship with Abby. Hauer imbues the character with so much emotion and pathos you honestly ache at his predicament. That's the shit, right there. Rutger looks every bit as old as his 67 years, so much so that you forget the once tall, chiseled, smooth faced Dutch actor he was and he becomes the character of The Hobo.

But enough about the acting and the monumental geek win that Rutger Hauer is surely made of... the true star of this movie is the gore and the over the top script. Form lines like "I'm going to sleep in your carcass tonight" to "Put the knife away, kid... or I'll use it to cut welfare checks from your rotten skin!" and "You and me are goin' on a car-ride to hell... and you're riding shotgun!" this is a true homage to the many exploitive grindhouse films that played in drive-ins and old movie theaters throught the 70's and 80's.

Finally - the bad guys are absolutely crazy... as they should be. Led by character actor Brian Downey (he was on Lexx on SyFy years and years ago. Lexx is otherwise known as 'That show that came on after Farscape that nobody watched. Ever.')Played with glee and obviously decadent relish by Downey, every other character in this movie, besides The Hobo and Abby, are bad guys. I mean, why else would The Hobo need a shotgun to clean up the streets?!? Duh!

The excess of this film is fantastic. Whether someone's having their entrails pulled out, or someone's - seriously - taking a flamethrower to a school bus full of kids, the bad guys are a wonder to behold.

So, if you're a fan of crazy, over the top, corny, gory, fun to watch movies... this is the film you've been waiting for. Warning: It's gory, uses language that would make your mother blush, and holds true to the spirit of that bygone era... which is reason enough to watch it despite all the other cool things I've told you about it! So go get yourself a copy!

Best film of the year? I don't think so. But in the realm of exploitation and horror movies that just kick ass, it's close, dear reader. Very, very close!



Demeur said...

I'll wait until it hits Chiller Drive In or Elvira.

Drunken Blogger said...

Great post. Great movie, I loved "Hobo with a shotgun" and made a lot of people I work with to watch it.