Hobo with a Shotgun (18)
The cheesy opening music – Rutger Hauer’s vagrant plays a mouth organ as he rides into another new destination aboard a train – gives a clue to the lineage of Hobo with a Shotgun.
This is, in all but name, a rip-off of Clint Eastwood’s classic turn as the Man with No Name in A Fistful of Dollars. Which was itself inspired by Toshiro Mifune in Yojimbo. Both films led to Last Man Standing, with Bruce Willis. And let’s not forget Death Wish. Now there is Hobo with a Shotgun.
The hobo arrives in a place nicknamed Scum Town where Drake, a psychotic criminal mastermind (Brian Downey doing an impersonation of Frank Gorshin – TV’s Riddler from the 1960s Batman series) allows his sons to run amok, killing with abandon.
The hobo only wants to earn a living via honest toil. His handwritten sign reads: “I am tired. Need $ for lawn mower.” When he receives rough treatment from Drake’s murderous boys he opts for a different tool for a new trade: a pump-action shotgun.
This, of course, after he is taken in and healed by a tart-with-a-heart. Once he starts stalking the streets, the bad guys – corrupt police, random miscreants, a paedophile Santa – start winding up dead in messy fashion.
Rutger Hauer was born to play this role. The king of action ‘B’ movies, he possesses a gravelly charisma that gives him both gravitas and plausibility in the unlikeliest of situations. He can even spit lines like “I’m gonna sleep in your bloody carcasses tonight!” and make them believable.
Fans of ‘80s video nasties – the genre it most resembles, and deliberately – will lap up Hobo with a Shotgun. Debut director Jason Eisener (in)famously landed his first gig by directing a faux trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse project. The trailer was so successful he was given $3 million to turn it into a feature.
This is the result. It has its moments of innovative gore but its OTT gratuitousness and slavish devotion to the sleazy exploitation flicks of the past doesn’t make up for its one-note delivery.