When asked what movies I was looking forward to in 2011, Hobo with a Shotgun consistently topped the list. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the current “grindhouse revival”, kicked off in 2006 with the aptly-titled Tarantino/Rodriguez double header, Grindhouse. Since then, we’ve seen modern takes on blackploitation (Black Dynamite), biker flicks (Hell Ride), spaghetti westerns (Sukiyaki Western Django) and whatever the hell Nude Nuns with Big Guns is supposed to be. The great thing about these throwback flicks is they’re made to resemble the way you remember classic exploitation films, not necessarily how they actually were. We often forget how subjective our memory is, and while your 13 year-old self couldn’t help but relish in the mind-blowing awesomeness of movies like The Amazing Mr. No Legs or Bloodsucking Freaks, go ahead and watch them now. The strings show, the plots stop dead for 20 minute chunks, and they just don’t work. They’re little gems of weird cinema and still well worth a watch, but charming ineptitude aside, their audacious punch often doesn’t mitigate our adult scrutiny. These latter day exploitation films play like 90-minute versions of old-school B-movie trailers; “…every shot is a money shot.”, to quote Eli Roth. The other great thing about this new wave of trash films is they’re getting even better as they go, in utter defiance of the law of diminished returns. This is especially true of the official Grindhouse releases, with both Planet Terror and Death Proof proving to be good, not-so-clean fun, Machete reaching near operatic heights of insane bloodshed, and now Hobo with a Shotgun comes along, loaded with so much bad taste and brutal-yet-cartoonish violence that it may be the final word on the sub-genre.
Rutger Hauer stars as the Hobo, riding the rails straight into a shit-hole called Hope Town (making him an actual hobo and not just a homebum as the term is often incorrectly applied). Within mere moments of his arrival, the Hobo becomes acquainted with the crime-ridden nature of the city, witnessing local crime lord Drake (Lexx‘s Brian Downey) and his two sons (Nick Bateman and Gregory Smith) performing a brutal execution in front of a fearful mob. Growing increasingly fed up with Hope Town’s criminal element, the Hobo finally acts, preventing young hooker Abby (Molly Donsworth) from being raped by Drake’s son, Slick, and attempts to turn him in to the local authorities. He finds out very quickly that the cops are on Drake’s payroll, and he’s mutilated for his trouble. Abby finds the Hobo bloodied in a dumpster and takes him in, forming a bond between the two. Finally, after witnessing yet another atrocious crime, the Hobo snaps, grabs a shotgun and begins his crusade, dispensing his own brand of street justice.