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Hobo With A Shotgun

March 9, 2012

Some films are bad. Some films are so bad they’re good. And there are some films which are so bad, they’re awesome. Hobo With A Shotgun firmly belongs in this last category.


The plot is neatly summarised in the title. The Hobo (played by Rutger Hauer of all people!) arrives at a town black with crime and corruption. He decides to take a stand and starts cleaning up the streets – with a shotgun, naturally. This attracts the attention of The Drake, the particularly vile crime-boss of the town, who calls for the Hobo’s head on a platter.

This film was originally a spoof trailer for Planet Terror and Death Proof (A collective homage to grindhouse by Robert Rodrigeuz and Quentin Tarantino respectively) but was lucky enough (and so were we) to be made into a feature film. Other entries which were not so lucky include: Werewolf Women of the SS, Don’t, and Thanksgiving.

Cinematically, the film looks like it was made in the 70s for that authentic exploitation feel. The writing and the acting are equally hammy. You get the feeling that someone was sitting over their typewriter, thinking, “Oh yeah, this is going to be really deep and meaningful.” That earnestness transforms the tragedy (in any other film) into comedy.

Likewise, the violence and gore in this film so over-the-top, it is beyond ridiculous, fitting for something associated with Tarantino and Rodriguez. It’s the kind of violence that your 16-year-old self would get a real thrill out of; it provoked howls of immature laughter from the sofa when I watched it with my housemates.

So far, I’ve only explained how its bad. And it is bad, believe me, but it also so very awesome. This comes from two main factors, I believe. First, the enthusiasm of those involved. It is clear that no one in the cast is trying to bag an oscar with this film. Instead, they are free to enjoy themselves and make a fun film. That is part of what makes this so refreshing to watch.

The other element that sublimes this film into gold is Rutger Hauer. Unrecognisable as Roy Batty from Blade Runner or the ‘Man with the beer’ (A series of ads by Guinness, as, in a black coat, Hauer looks like a Guinness), Hauer conveys a great deal of complexity in the character of the Hobo. At the start of the film, we see the Hobo pushing a trolley around, rooting around in rubbish bins for food and cigarettes. He begs and degrades himself in order to get enough money for the one thing he wants more than anything else (Not a shotgun but I won’t spoil it). Not particularly easy to watch. But when he converses with another character, he flits between simple human desires and possibly mad ramblings. Even though he is the sole protagonist, it is hard to be sure where he is coming from. In the entire film, he is the only character elevated from a 2D cut-out, thanks largely to Hauer’s engaging portrayal.

He also blows away a paedophilic santa claus. Did I mention that?

On the back of oscar season, there are plenty of deep and artistic films to watch. Also, summer is coming, bringing with it the usual clutch of blockbusters. This is neither. If you want to watch either of those, you know where to go. If instead you want largely mindless violence to the point of hilarity, I advise you check out Hobo With A Shotgun from your local Blockbuster.

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