Maybe a year or two ago, I heard about this movie that sounded awesome: Hobo With a Shotgun. If you’ve never heard of it . . . well, it’s about a hobo. With a shotgun. Making it the best titled film since Snakes on a Plane.
Unfortunately—and not entirely unlike Snakes on a Plane—this exploitation film fails to live up to its potential.
Rutger Hauer is a hobo who hops on a train and ends up in Hell. Well, okay, not literally Hell, but it’s definitely not the kind of place you’d want to build a summer home. There are kids who wash their faces with huge handfuls of coke. There are very elaborate public decapitations. There are crooked cops and pedophile Santas.
Eventually, Rutger Hauer has had just about enough of this nonsense, so he buys himself a shotgun and makes with the vigilante justice.
1. If that plot description sounded awesome to you . . . I’m right there with you, buddy! I love movies like this. Mindless violence! Gore a plenty! Ridiculously bad ass heroes! How do you mess up a crazy exploitation flick like this?
Well, you can make it too crazy, for one. I know that might sound silly (what do you mean, too crazy) but see . . . there’s this thing I like to call the Psychosis Line. And on one side of the Psychosis Line, you’re having a crazy fun time. The dialogue is corny; the stunts are ludicrous; the most insane shit keeps happening . . . and you’re loving every second of it.
On the other side of this line . . . there are random tentacles that come out of nowhere and guys who say things like, “She’s so hot I’d eat the peanuts out of her shit.” Yes, everybody, this is an actual line from Hobo With a Shotgun, a movie which bypasses Crazytown, hops over WTF Mountain, and lands squarely in the Village of My Brain Might Actually be Damaged Now. And, hey, maybe you’re into brain damage—I’m not here to judge you—but the other main problem with Hobo With a Shotgun is . . .
2 . . . it’s kind of boring. Amidst all the death and destruction and giggling, topless women beating the holy hell out of men who are strung up by their ankles . . . the film is pretty slow, especially at the beginning.
I’m sure I’ve said this before, but the one thing an exploitation film can not afford to be is boring, not at any time. I waited for Rutger Hauer to start kicking ass, and then I waited some more, and some more, and some more, and by the time he finally got into full vigilante mode . . . honestly, I was just waiting for the movie to be over.
3. Some of the dialogue isn’t completely worthless. If there had been more lines like this—
“When life gives you razor blades, you make a baseball bat . . . covered in razor blades.”
—I’m sure I would have liked the film much better. But a lot of the dialogue is just sort of dull. There are only so many times Gregory Smith can bug out his eyes and scream, “Fuck this!” or “Fuck that!” or “Let’s fuck!” before I just start nodding off. And this is coming from someone who constantly overuses the F-word. I mean, you really have to try to make me think, Okay, sweetheart, you really need to consider widening your vocabulary.
4. Although, while I’m on the subject of Gregory Smith . . . somebody wanted to get past the shadow of Everwood, didn’t they?
5. On the positive side, Rutger Hauer as the Hobo is pretty damn awesome. If ever there was an actor destined for a role like Vigilante Hobo, it is Rutger Hauer, who takes his crap dialogue and makes that shit work.
It’s also kind of a pleasant change of pace to see him playing a good guy, for once. There’s this and Ladyhawke and . . . er . . .
6. I also actually kind of like the girl, Abby (Molly Dunsworth). She’s a prostitute that Rutger Hauer rescues, and there’s a scene near the end of the movie where she is just completely AWESOME. Because what this film is really short on—despite Rutger Hauer’s best efforts—are moments of total badassary, where you want to leap off your couch and go, “Yeah! Dude, you ROCK!!!!” Abby actually delivers the best Awesome Fucking Moment in the whole film . . . but I won’t spoil it for you, and I refuse to put up a spoiler section for this one thing. (Sorry, Robyn.) Just . . . it’s pretty cool.
7. Although Abby does have her faults. It’s all well and good to feel indebted to the semi-crazy man who saved your life, but it’s quite something else to hear a plan like, “Let’s hop a train, buy a lawnmower, and start a business,” and be all giddy about it, particularly when you’ve known this semi-crazy man for all of a day . . . and particularly when he likes to argue with his own brain and ramble late at night about how bears love to rip people’s faces off.
Best bedtime story. Ever.
Skip this film and go see Machete instead. Actually, Machete was okay, but if you’re short on time, skip that too and watch Death Proof and Planet Terror in its place.
If you go to a town where corruption is so immense that psychos get away with decapitating their relatives in the middle of the street via a setup that includes barbed wire, a manhole cover, and a motorcycle . . . hop your ass back on the train and LEAVE said city, stat.