HOFF 2011: HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN Review

Ryland Aldrich, Festivals Editor

It can be a tricky proposition to adapt a highly successful trailer into a feature length film. Whether because of budget concerns, story problems, or inexperience, too often a filmmaker will hold back on the outrageous elements that made the trailer such a hit. This is most definitely NOT the case with Jason Eisener's Hobo with a Shotgun. Eisener holds nothing back, giving us far more mutilation madness, clever decapitations, and uproarious ultra-violence than his hilarious Grindhouse trailer.

The film begins in all its oversaturated Technicolor glory when Rutger Hauer's soon-to-be legendary 'Hobo' jumps off a train in the aptly named Scum Town. His quest to collect enough bottles to buy a lawn mower is quickly interrupted by a theatrical decapitation by Scum Town's evil crime boss The Drake (Brian Downey) and his psychopathic sons Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman). The dreadful state of Scum Town isn't really of much concern to Hobo until he grows a softy for a young prostitute named Abby (Molly Dunsworth). While his intentions are purely fatherly, Abby's plight propels Hobo to spend his hard earned lawn mower money on a 12-gauge and start blowing holes in every pedophile Santa Claus, school bus torching villain, and outrageously stereotypical pimp he can lay his eyes on.

It doesn't take long to realize that Hobo (the film) is a going to be a real envelope pusher. After some poor dude's head is ripped off in the first big set piece, blood geysers from his neck like Old Faithful. While this sort of epic blood shower would be enough for most films, Hobo goes the extra mile by giving us a hottie in a white bikini who decides to go buck wild thrusting and gyrating in the fountain of gore. One room in the bad guys' pleasure palace is devoted strictly to bumper cars with steel plates mounted on their front ends, specifically used to crush the skulls of homeless victims like blood filled balloons. Oh, and did someone mention compound fractures? This movie has plenty of compound fractures. We are talking exposed broken bones used in ways you've never even dreamed about.

But it isn't just the copious amounts of imaginative violence that is to like about Hobo. There is also some genuinely funny writing. Hobo and Abby carry on a hilarious dialog about Abby becoming a teacher when they get out of Scum Town. At one point Abby turns to Hobo and says in perfect deadpan, "You know I'm not really a teacher don't you?" This sort of cleverness keeps the film entertaining, even when some of the ridiculous violence threatens to get repetitive. Obviously, this film might not be for everyone (one poor woman in the audience remarked before the film began that the sight of blood made her nauseous). But if you enjoy a good old fashioned blood and gore comedy, Hobo with a Shotgun is a total blast.

*   *   *
Hobo with a Shotgun played with the very enjoyable musical-horror-comedy short The Legend of Beaver Dam by Jerome Sable and Eli Batalion. This great short about a scout trip gone wrong is well worth seeking out.

[ Ryland Aldrich is a freelance writer and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. He blogs at enderzero.net ]

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