Hobo with a Shotgun

Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner) is the hobo. He’s seen things we people wouldn’t believe. Tramps chewing cut glass in the shadow of dodgem death discos. Fur coated lovelies writhing in blood. Pedophile Santas spiriting away their weeping prey. All these moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain. Time to get packing with a pump-action shotgun.

Hobo with a Shotgun began life as the winner of a Grindhouse Trailer Contest judged by Robert Rodriguez. It became a commercial feature on the back of cult fandom and industry support. A weathered hobo plays harmonica on a freight train, riding through an American landscape drenched in lurid Technicolor (credited directly after the actors in the opening credits – director Jason Eisener knows his genre roots and plays to them on every level). Hoping for a fresh start in a new city, the hobo jumps off the freight car and finds himself in… the wrong place. A squalid, broiling helltown of death-dealing gangs, sickening vice and corruption. Forgoing his initial dreams of acquiring a lawnmower, the hobo soon decides a shotgun is the only way to clean up these streets…

The eponymous possessor of the shotgun may discover himself to be a one-trick hobo, but this ain’t by no means a one-trick film. Densely packed with thrills, spills, kills and pure film magic, it’s saturated with the director’s lifelong love of genre cinema and relishes the freedom a tightly-worked feature-length script can bring. With the original trailer screenwriter John Davies on board, the volcanic tension is sustained by Eisener’s unerrantly canny eye for the nuances, themes and quirks of classic exploitation films (think Vice Squad, The Warriors, Dead-End Drive-In and Savage Streets). You’ll be drenched in a seedy, neon-lit world of studded punks and greasy gang overloads with polarised T-Bird jackets and ice-cream suits. Tacky, over-the-top-and-then-some visceral violence is punctuated by virgin whores in eighties makeup, retrocool skate blades and doubled-up boomboxes.

Like The Warriors, this grindhouse dystopia is as warm and cosy as it is gloriously gory – it’s hell, but it’s not our millenial hell. Go back a couple of decades. Grab your popcorn, smuggle in your booze and visit a godless, chaotic future as imagined by the good citizens of the 1980s.

Hobo with a Shotgun matches its genre roots and builds on them. It cements its position as a genre leader with its canny casting of Rutger Hauer in the central role. Producer Niv Fichman said they needed a lead that was “iconic, someone who captures the fan base of the trailer but [goes] much further than that”. Eisener added the lead role needed to have a “champion-like status”.

Rutger Hauer delivers. This is no phone-in for a paycheck – he is, indeed, a champion. He crumples his lined face into the most nuanced microexpressions of warmth, weariness, bewilderment, resignation and determination. He eats the screen. He’s seen things.

Hobo with a Shotgun is, to quote the hobo, an exploitation genre-loving “car ride to hell”. It’s funny, it’s full of mayhem and it’ll burn your eyeballs. Buckle up and hop in…

PS. Some people claim this film is full of boobies. Untrue! Sleazy and fun, yes, but less than 7 seconds of actual boob.


The Drake: “Alright, you androids. Anybody looks away, I swear I’ll godamn make you wish you’d been aborted.”

Slick: “You know how I know my dick makes you wet? Cause you make my dick… thirsty.”

Chief of Police: “Every day is garbage day for street trash like you.”

Newspaper Headline: “Hobo stops begging, demands change”

Hobo: “You and me are going on a car ride to hell…”

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