Review Index



A logical successor to GRINDHOUSE, and in my view exactly what we all need right now: an unapologetically excessive seventies-inspired splatter-fest bursting with wit and invention that’s never boring!

The Package
     When the two-part GRINDHOUSE was released in 2007, its creators Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez spoke of their desire to produce more similarly themed features. The film’s box office failure put an immediate stop to that dream, yet some filmmakers have taken their own initiative and followed Tarantino and Rodriguez’s lead--see Rodriguez’s 2010 MACHETE and this 2011 Canadian production.
     Like MACHETE, HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN began as a fake trailer, made by Canadian director Jason Eisener as part of a contest to help promote the release of GRINDHOUSE. His film won the contest, and was even edited into GRINDHOUSE in parts of Canada. The feature version of that short, with Rutger Hauer in the title role (replacing the trailer’s headliner David Brunt, who plays the role of “Dirty Cop” in the feature), is very close in style and tone to the PLANET TERROR episode of GRINDHOUSE--only several times more over the top!

The Story
     A virtuous middle aged hobo lives in a grungy hellhole of a town (actually Nova Scotia, Canada) ruled by the ruthless gangster Drake and his asshole sons Slick and Ivan. The hobo is looking to earn enough money to purchase a lawn mower so he can start a lawn mowing business, but he finds himself distracted by the behavior of the slum-dwellers surrounding him--which includes enclosing a guy’s head in a steel manhole and chopping it off. When the hobo spots Slick manhandling a prostitute he can take it no more and beats the bastard up. This gets the hobo in trouble with local cops on Drake’s payroll, who lynch the hobo severely.
     After recuperating in the apartment of the prostitute, a comely young woman named Abby, the hobo hits the streets. He makes some quick money by eating broken glass for the edification of a local bum fights filmmaker, and heads for a pawnshop to buy his prized lawnmower. But the place immediately is held up by three scumbags, and the hobo responds by grabbing a shotgun and shooting them all.
     From there the hobo embarks on a vigilante rampage with his new shotgun, massacring the bum fights moviemaker, a local pedophile and a pimp. Drake is none too happy about the hobo’s antics, and dispatches Slick and Ivan to even things up by incinerating a school bus full of children--and then killing a newscaster reporting the massacre(!) and using the broadcast to announce that more children will be killed unless people go out and murder every homeless person they find.
     The townspeople follow suit, killing bums right and left. Amid all the madness Slick and Ivan invade Abby’s apartment and nearly kill her, but the hobo is there as well, and blows Slick’s dick off. Drake responds to this latest outrage by dispatching two armor-wearing shitheads to the hospital where Abby is recuperating, and there the armor guys kidnap the hobo. Abby realizes she’ll have to act quickly--and violently--if she wants to save her new friend…

The Direction
     Everything in this film, from the hysterical acting to the eye-burning photography to the cacophonous score (which is so insistent, even in quiet scenes, that it frequently drowns out the dialogue), has been pumped up to the point of excess--and beyond. That includes the bloodletting, which is as excessive as that of any movie I’ve seen, but is never too troubling, seeing as how it’s all done with a lot of campy humor. Such an approach would doubtless be irritating (as in most Troma movies) were it not for the considerable wit and invention of director Jason Eisener, who always seems to top himself at every turn and keeps the energy level high from start to grim finish.
     In the title role the 67-year-old Rutger Hauer is as commending a screen presence as ever, and also a lot of fun, slyly recalling his most famous performances--BLADE RUNNER’S Roy Batty, THE HITCHER’S John Ryder--at various points in the film.

Vital Statistics

Magnet Releasing/Alliance Films

Director: Jason Eisener
Producer: Rob Cotterill, Niv Fichman, Frank Siracusa
Screenplay: John Davies
Cinematography: Karim Hussain
Editing: Jason Eisener
Cast: Rutger Hauer, Gregory Smith, Molly Dunsworth, Brian Downey, Nick Bateman, Robb Wells, Peter Simas, Jeremy Akerman, Glen Matthews, Drew O’Hara, David Brunt