Review: Hobo With a Shotgun DVD

Hobo with a Shotgun DVDSTUDIO: Magnolia | DIRECTOR: Jason Eisner | CAST: Rutger Hauer, Gregory Smith, Milly Dunsworth, Brian Downey, Nick Bateman
RELEASE DATE: 7/5/2011 | PRICE: Blu-ray $29.98, 2-Disc DVD $29.98, DVD $26.98
BONUSES: commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes, alternate ending, interviews, video blogs, digital copy, more
SPECS: R | 86 min. | Action crime | 1.66:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Hobo With a Shotgun

Rutger Hauer is mad as hell and is not going to take it anymore in Hobo with a Shotgun.

As subtle as its title, Hobo With a Shotgun is an in-your-face orgy of elements of 1970s/1980s grindhouse exploitation movies that goes way over the line in terms of blood, gore and good taste. That said, it’s bound to find a large audience that can’t get enough of the sicko stuff.

Rutger Hauer (The Rite) plays the title character, an unnamed homeless fellow who leaps off a train he has been hitching a ride on, and ends up in what appears to be hell. Actually, it’s the ironically named Hope Town. A fleapit of a city, Hope Town is populated by punks and creeps galore, ruled over by the fascistic crimelord known as “The Drake” (Brian Downey, Snow Angels) and his two drug-addled sons.

After Hauer befriends Abby (Molly Dunsworth), a hooker, and stands up to The Drake, the mobster goes on the warpath and sicks his kids on the kind-hearted hobo. All the homeless dude wants is a lawnmower to start a business, but he ends up getting a shotgun instead.

Writer John Davies and director Jason Eisener, who originally made a faux trailer for this film that was inserted in the Canadian version of the Tarantino/Rodriguez collaboration Grindhouse, obviously know and love the types of films they pay tribute to here. But the filmmakers are so hot-wired and relentless in their pursuit for splatter and simply being offensive — a school bus filled with kids is set ablaze at one point — that a lot of the potential fun of the project is not exploited.

Hauer is perfectly suited to the role, the largest he has had in a while. Bad guy Downey is a genuinely frightening portrait of malevolence, and the over-saturated colors and lighting scheme add a strangely effective aspect to the depravity the filmmakers were apparently shooting for.

Supplemental-wise, the Hobo discs are bursting at the seams. Featurettes, deleted scenes, an alternate ending, Fangoria and HDNet pieces … it never ends.

The DVD’s commentary track finds director Eisener and star Hauer (in his first commentary) recounting the production and subsequent reception the film received upon its screening at the Sundance festival.

Eisener tells one particularly memorable production story about an extra who had been blind from birth, had a surgical procedure, and then began to see for the first time in his life during the shoot. His eyesight kicked in while he was on set for a scene wherein a decapitated man geysers blood all over the body of a bikinied babe. “The color red is so beautiful,” the extra reportedly murmered.


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About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.