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“Jason Eisener is one of us,” a friend posted moments after seeing Hobo With A Shotgun. One of us indeed…
Us ‘film types’ are a hard posse to impress – one has to fulfill both the supreme need for something entirely new – no easy feat, gotta use that imagination – while at the same time utilize core fundamentals familiar to the genre, which in this case, is part of the “nu-Grindhouse” movement. It is in the perfect balance of those two concepts that acceptance is granted – and Eisener has earned the key to the city after his Hobo With A Shotgun.
Hope Town, AKA Scum Town – easily an extension of the same city Street Trash and Death Wish 3 take place in – is a dirty town. Nobody has anything…nobody but ‘The Drake’ – a psychopath brilliantly portrayed by Brian Downey; picture Paul Sorvino as a kingpin. The Drake runs this shit-hole, along with his sociopathic sons – think multiple Caligula’s running around – the result of the Stanford Prison Experiment if it went on for 18 years…Something needs to be done…enter everybody’s favorite Replicant – Rutger F’n Hauer…with a shotgun. ‘Nuff said.
Hailed by many as “The best Troma film never made,” Hobo finds a secure and bloodstained place in cinematic nihilism by tapping the same vein as Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive and Yoshihiro Nishimura’s Tokyo Gore Police. The beauty of Hobo is that it simply does not care – heads explode, children get flame-thrower-ed, and men fight giant octopuses – octopi? – and it’s all fair game. Picture a gore-oriented Minoru Kawasaki laced with the humor of (old school) Peter Jackson and snort a mile of it a la the intro of Takashi Miike’s Dead or Alive.
While Hobo is not perfect, it is wildly entertaining – one does not care about the use of clichéd character builds – the Jodie Foster-ian prostitute with a heart, the power hungry kingpin, or the traditional good-Samaritan lead – or the (way) higher than normal suspension of disbelief to enjoy this romp. One should know what they are in for – as Hobo does not tease – sticking to its guns the same way Snakes on a Plane and Killer Klowns From Outer Space do in delivering exactly what the title implies. It’s not going to win an Oscar, but who cares? It exists for the sake of fun, which as an avid movie viewer, I find infinitely more valuable.
While some may dismiss Hobo based on surface appearance – let’s take some time to appreciate the symbolism hidden under the four inches of blood and brain matter. First up – the shotgun itself – it’s not only Rutger’s instrument of retribution, but rather the citizens of Hope Town’s collective voice – a 157 decibel voice with unlimited ammo. Rutger is merely the spokesperson, the ambassador, the Michael Douglas in Falling Down (D-FENS!) Next up is the lawnmower – $50 at a pawn store, the item of Rutger’s desire. Why would a homeless – thus lawn-less – man desire a lawnmower? Think outside the bun my esteemed colleagues – the lawn exists to the man with the family…the job…the purpose. For $50, that lawnmower represents the proverbial “American Dream” – he can even mow around that white picket fence. Finally, let’s look at the Plague – the unstoppable duo sent to silence Rutger…to oppress the voice of the people?…These guys define bad-ass – full body armor, a harpoon-noose contraption, and octopus wrestling skills (…bow hunting skills…computer hacking skills…) Rumors abound that this dynamic duo have been granted a spin-off movie of their own – to which this reviewer simply says…Godspeed!
Allow me to deviate a tad from Hobo, and speak of its creator, one Jason Eisenberg. With only a few short films under his belt, including the amazing Treevenge, Eisenberg submitted a faux pas trailer for the Rodriguez/Tarantino lovechild, Grindhouse. Upon winning the trailer contest, his trailer for Hobo With A Shotgun was seen alongside of Eli Roth’s Thanksgivingand Robert Rodriguez’s Machete – both of which are/have already received the full length film treatment. It was only appropriate that Hobo evolved to feature length. Those of you that have seen Treevenge know Eisenberg’s dark humor – self-aware evergreen trees, fed up with the Yule-tide tradition of tree abuse, decide to take their…ahem…Treevenge on the human population. Genius! One can say Treevenge planted the seeds (pun intended) to the ultimate success of Hobo. Keep an eye out for Eisenberg, I guarantee you his career is JUST starting.
As far as Hobo goes, one can catch it on VOD via Comcast Xfinity at the time of this write-up. So sit back, grab your favorite flavor of Mad Dog 20/20, and indulge in some chaos – bonus points if you follow it up with Jim Muro’s Street Trash.
“At any street corner the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face.” – Albert Camus