Hobo with a Shotgun Jason Eisener

Hobo with a Shotgun Jason Eisener
With a title like Hobo with a Shotgun, director Jason Eisener's debut feature isn't likely to attract the wrong audience. Even if you haven't seen the original faux-trailer attached to the Canadian prints of Tarantino and Rodriguez's Grindhouse, odds are, if you find the idea of a vigilante hobo exploitation film appealing, you won't be disappointed by this gratuitous gore-fest. Nabbing Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner, Sin City) as the titular bum was a stroke of good fortune; his performance is the only grounding element in a world of ridiculousness and camp. Riding a train into town during the opening credits, with font and music lifted from '70s B-movies, our loveably gruff hobo hero finds himself in the most vile and corrupt community conceivable. Resisters are beheaded for sport, hookers are prevented from doing their schoolwork between tricks, the cops are more crooked than an erection slammed in a car door and Santa wants all the little boys and girls to do a lot more than sit on his lap and make a wish. A noble hobo can only take so much glass eating for money, prostitute mistreatment and general scumbaggery before taking the law into his grimy mitts. So-obvious-they-are-clever news headlines like "Hobo stops begging, demands change" signal a groundswell of civilian support for the hobo's twelve-gauge street cleaning, which infuriates sleazy, grandstanding crime kingpin Drake (Brian Downey, Lexx), pushing him to declare war upon the homeless. Underneath the hokey guts, hilariously overt dismemberment and gallons of gushing blood, Rutger Hauer gives the film a surprising amount of heart. Playing his role totally straight and investing the hobo with emotional depth (he dreams of making a respectable living and encourages the same in his surrogate daughter/hooker companion) makes the one-note caricatures around him that much funnier. Some will complain of tonal inconsistency, but that'd be missing the point. Were the rest of the cast giving as nuanced performances, the horrific actions and dialogue would be uncomfortable and disgusting. The same goes for the practical effects: realism is the enemy of exploitation comedy. Dartmouth, NS native Eisener and his crew of buddies had a blast making their first full-length feature, with a minor taste of an actual budget, as evinced by the plethora of bonus features. Of the deleted scenes, only an extended ending addressing the promise of "the Plague" is worthwhile. The production video blogs, "Shotgun Mode Clips" and the "Making Of," are where the real feature meat is at, containing an exhaustive amount of behind-the-scenes content. Fangoria interviews with Hauer and Eisener are lengthy, perhaps overly so, but Eisener's youthful enthusiasm for the opportunity to live his dream is endearing. The commentary with Eisener, writer John Davies, producer Rob Cotterill and original hobo David Brunt (who played a major part in shaping the character, even though he wasn't up for reprising the role) contains plenty of on-set anecdotes and information regarding influences. In case it wasn't obvious, Hobo with a Shotgun is an homage to schlock made by '80s babies. (Alliance)