Hobo With A Shotgun
That’s right, half a star.
I’ve heard the term “Grindhouse” being thrown around a lot lately. So much so, it has almost come back to life as a genre again. The term originally was used to describe a theatre that mainly showed exploitation films, being named after the defunct burlesque theatres located in New York City, where ‘bump n’ grind’ dancing and striptease were featured. These local and single-screen movie theatres, many of which were built during the cinema boom of the 1930s began to falter with the introduction of cable television and in combination with changing economics these theatres were forced to either close or offer something that television could not. In the 1970s Grindhouse was the term for the theatres playing exploitation films, either adult pornography and sleaze, slasher horror, kung fu, Giallo, sexploitation, the ‘good old boy’ redneck car-chase movies, blaxploitation, or spaghetti western. Grindhouse cinema characteristically contained large amounts of sex, violence or bizarre subject matter, usually of low quality due to low budget production values and poor print quality, often advertised as double, triple, and “all night” features on a single admission. Grindhouse’s most recent comeback is due largely in part to Quentin Tarantino, who it seems cannot let go of the film styles he grew up with. In 2007 Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino co-produced and wrote and directed two separate movies, released together as a double feature, which they dubbed “Grindhouse”. These films of course were Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, and Tarantino’s Death Proof. Before each movie they had invited some of their industry friends to make “fake trailers” in the Grindhouse motif to augment the atmosphere of their movies. Two of these trailers have now gone on to become full films, first Rodriguez’ own Machete, and Hobo With A Shotgun, which was aired mainly in Canadian theatres. Hobo was created by a group of Maritime filmmakers, which won Robert Rodriguez’s South by Southwest Grindhouse trailers contest. That mercifully brings us to the film I just finished sitting through.
Hobo With A Shotgun was a good idea in theory. Machete translated well from trailer to feature, but sadly I cannot feel the same way about Hobo. The gratuitous gore became very repetitive, and I felt, actually made the film drag. The plot, as expected, was very thin and disjointed. I’ll give you a crime city, I’ll give you corrupt officials turning a blind eye, and I’ll even let slide some of the pointless gore, but whatever they were trying to do with “The Plague” at the end, really pushed this one off the rails. The Plague are two armour clad, junkyard armed, enforcers for the main crime boss….and I think they’re supposed to be supernatural? In a scene in their lair, we see them beating what look like octopus tentacles back into a cell. I haven’t turned a movie off yet, but my finger was twitching tonight ever closer to the remote control.
The dialogue was terrible, and most of the performances even worse. I say most, because Molly Dunsworth as Abby, the prostitute that the Hobo first rescues actually played her part well, until the script and dialogue let her down. Rutger Hauer as the titular Hobo gave an oddly sincere and intense performance, especially evident after hearing some of the “morality” speeches he gave in the film. Good job Rutger, because you made me believe that you believed in this. These were the only roles in the film that were played straight. The father and sons bad guy trio (Drake, Slick and Ivan) were nausea inducing because they were seemingly written for laughs that weren’t there; they were too over the top, and you therefore could not relate to them on any level. Without a coherent style; straight, spoof or camp; and saddled with a weak script, this movie was doomed to fail.
I think what frustrates me the most about films like these, are that people will read far too much into them. Some will argue that this was a serious movie, and wasn’t supposed to be a comedy; that the filmmakers were purposefully trying to make a movie that could have been made 30 years ago; that this was nostalgia and not a spoof. I disagree. After watching some of the special features; which I did turn off, because they were hurting parts of my brain; I was shocked to see the amount of technology that these filmmakers had at their disposal and this was all they could produce with it. An endless display of blood and gore that makes this film seem like it was shot by a bunch of school kids on a weekend, to see how much they could gross out their girlfriends and parents.
This movie was not even “funny” bad, just made badly. I think if this is the new “cult classic” material, we’re all in trouble. Remember that most “cult classics” are loved not because they are bad movies that were made bad, but they were genuinely trying to be good but fail.
You can’t make a “cult” movie on purpose, you make a movie as good as you can and then the audience will be the judge.
This could have been a great and gritty “revenge” film but instead we got a bad movie that only succeeds in being a bad movie, with no redeeming value whatsoever. At one point in the film Drake says, “When life gives you razor blades… you make a baseball bat, covered in razor blades.” I guess when life gives you a bad script, some poor actors and a fairly substantial budget ($3 million) you make Hobo With A Shotgun.