Hobo With A Shotgun Review
The whole point of exploitation cinema is that it's rough and ready. When Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino made Grindhouse, they wanted to celebrate the exploitation films that had inspired them and show the world what those kind of films would look like with bigger stars, bigger budgets and lots of self reverence. Personally, I thought they failed overall and on this site you'll find my views on Death Proof and Planet Terror in more detail. My basic problem with both films was that they were a little out of proportion to the original inspiration and grander than they needed to be.The double bill has proved enduring though, even to the point of two of the trailers within the double bill being made into whole features. Following Machete, we now have Hobo with a Shotgun and I am pleased to say that finally something of real value has come out of all this homage. Jason Eisener's film is operatically stupid, gloriously insane and completely unnecessary at all times. It is also fun and wholly committed in all of its elements to the films that inspired it.
From the central decision of casting Rutger Hauer and banking on his history of nonsense like Blind Fury, through to the outlandishly large performances of Brian Downey and his offspring, Eisener proves that he gets it. He knows that silliness, excess and outrageous sentimentality is what the likes of Jack Hill, Roger Corman and their many imitators knew to serve up. They understood the importance of nakedness, extreme violence and a real sense of counter-culture and Eisener tops anything either served up in the name of bad taste before him.Hauer is the title and he grizzles through as he enters a new town only to find it rotten from top to bottom. Crime kingpin Drake and his psychotic sons have all the good people running scared as mutilation is visited on those who stand up to them as the police accept their pay-offs. Forced to take matters into his own hands, Hauer lets loose with the lead and any other weapon that comes to hand and he faces off against mutant killers and a hysterical public. Guts and blood are plentiful as justice is served.
Gaudy, outrageous and seriously lacking in moral judgement, Hobo With a Shotgun exceeds on a level that few film-makers would dare to. And basically that's the whole point, this film joyously destroys innocence, sensitivity and any hope of self censorship from the opening of one of Drake's women showering in blood. Unsurprisingly, the ante is upped and upped throughout and perhaps a little momentum disappears before the finale, but frankly the constant raising of the bar in terms of horror or action is remarkable and the need to bring it all to an end is one convention that has to be respected.Probably, my favourite film of this year and one that fans of cult or exploitation have to see. I found myself cheering, laughing my rocks off and squirming enjoyably from beginning to end, now don't you want some of that?
Momentum give the film a region B locked BD50 and the film has a file-size of 15.7GB. The transfer is encoded using the MPEG4 AVC codec and runs at 23.98 frames per second. The main feature is deliberately worn looking and coloured to mirror the inspirations of those movies from the 70s and 80s, and despite a very digital appearance the image is film-like. Contrast is very strong and detail is excellent both in and out of light. This is a very nice transfer for a deliberately rough looking film.A single lossless track is offered in a splendidly assertive 5.1 master audio. Effects are mixed creatively and with plenty of relish as flesh is ripped, burned and exposed and the score pounds away like a jack-hammer to accompany the chaos. This is a fine offering.
There are two commentary tracks offered here, both featuring Eisener. The director marshals and compliments Hauer assiduously, and Hauer offers plenty of welcome conscience when talking about real life poverty as well as an appreciation of the spirit of the film. It's more blokeish as the friendly crew chat together and more broad in appreciating everyone's work on the film. Both commentaries are amiable and warm and decent company when you watch the film for the second time.
The disc itself opens with trailers for other fun offerings like Eyeborgs and Troll Hunter, along with the dreadful Insidious. The menu design is based on the old style poster and well judged in terms of the spirit of the movie. Options are not too many but you can choose to watch the making of documentary in segments or its full 105 minute variant. This documentary is basic footage of the shoot with some interviews slotted in between and its probably best enjoyed in broken form as it doesn't hold together too well as one piece. These elements can also be watched incorporated in the film by watching in Shotgun mode.
There is a better presented documentary that explores the genesis of the film and the actual shooting with Eisener proving a fun companion. He is interviewed in bed with Hauer for HDnet and in more serious form with Fangoria, as is Hauer as well. Various videoblogs are offered, some Eisener trailers in the same style as the main film and some deleted, mainly atmospheric footage.
A really wonderfully excessive film offered with good HD options. My film of the year so far.