(by Dustin Putman
2007's Quentin Tarantino-Robert Rodriguez double feature "Grindhouse?" 2010's "Machete?" 2011's "Drive Angry?" There have been plenty of notable films in recent years that have attempted to both mimic and pay homage to the gritty, grimy drive-in B-flicks of the 1960s and '70s, but none have done quite such an uncanny job as "Hobo with the Shotgun." Directed by Jason Eisener, written by John Davies, and filmed—as the opening credits tell us—in glorious Technicolor, this depraved valentine to down-and-dirty cult moviedom audaciously breaks one barrier after the next in good taste. Yes, it's nihilistic, but it's also such a non-stop, over-the-top, intentionally ridiculous smorgasbord of violence and bloodshed that it ceases being disturbing and just becomes pure, 100% fun. Article continues below
Hell has arrived in the ironically-named Hope Town, a place lorded over by Drake (Brian Downey) and overrun with the scum of the earth. Punks, psychopaths, murderers, thieves, rapists, snuff filmmakers, arsonists, crooked cops, Drake's homicidal sons Ivan (Nick Bateman) and Slick (Gregory Smith), and pedophilic kidnappers dressed as Santa Claus populate this godforsaken place. The title character, a homeless rail-rider played to the hilt by Rutger Hauer (2011's "The Rite"), is shocked by the carnage he witnesses when he arrives. Wanting nothing more than to earn the $49.99 he needs to buy a new lawnmower—a symbol of the life he once knew—he is subsequently pushed to the brink by the evil around him and takes the law into his own hands. Also in his hands, as it turns out, is a shotgun.
"Hobo with a Shotgun" has the pacing of a jackrabbit, the color scheme of a rainbow on acid, and the go-for-broke lunacy of the world's zaniest Troma release. Sewer drain beheadings, a blowtorched school bus of children, a baseball bat made of razor blades, and bumper cars that squash human heads all take their rightful place alongside a revenge fantasy wherein the Hobo serves up a round of just desserts to those who have turned Hope Town into a place where the apocalypse has begun. Complex screen turns aren't exactly in demand, yet charismatic newcomer Molly Dunsworth especially makes the most of Abby, a young prostitute whom the Hobo affectionately grows protective of. Director Jason Eisener deliciously executes the proceedings—he knows exactly what he's doing—allowing his audience to wince and laugh in equal perverse measure. Only the very ending is left wanting, a bit too abrupt to adequately tie up all the loose ends. Then again, that brevity, too, is just in keeping with the grindhouse model. The unrated-for-a-reason "Hobo with a Shotgun" would have to be cut in half to even have a chance at earning an R rating, but for the right audience, movies don't get much more deliriously entertaining and courageously off-color than this one.