Movie Review: ‘Hobo With a Shotgun’ Is As Classy As It Sounds

What new hell is this? Hobo With a Shotgun is a horror movie masquerading as a campy spoof of violence and gore that bears the stigma of the four scariest words in cinema: “Big Hit At Sundance!” It began as a joke in 2007–a $150 trailer for a grindhouse movie hawking a contest in Austin, Texas, shot in six days. The result was so nasty and gruesome it became the rage of the blogosphere and an instant sensation on YouTube, receiving over one million hits and ultimately inspiring a full-length feature that celebrates the crazy passion of its director, Jason Eisener, for cheesy old Hollywood violence, bloodshed, mutilation and underworld crime. Proceed at your own peril.

So what exactly is Hobo With a Shotgun? Homeless hobo leaps from a freight-train boxcar into a lawless whistle stop and gets tired of being pushed around, so he declares war on the local scumbags, hoods, skunks and riffraff. The  result is a rampage of blood-splattering mayhem designed to test your tolerance for nausea. A man wearing a manhole cover around his neck is dropped into a hole in a barbed-wire noose so the wheels of speeding cars can rip his head off. The old derelict (played, would you believe, by Rutger Hauer) thinks he might like to settle down and rest a spell, but the town is so paralyzed by Drake, the crime boss, and his two sadistic homicidal maniac sons, Slick and Ivan, that the Hobo decides to teach them a thing or three about humanity. In a pawn shop, he finds a secondhand lawn mower with which to beautify the town, but as the brutality escalates, he settles on a shotgun instead, joins up with a prostitute and opens fire with a vengeance that makes the streets of Baghdad look like Palm Beach on Sunday.

Total garbage, of course, without a single redeeming factor, but what keeps you going is waiting to see what they’ll come up with next. There’s a roaming photographer who pays people to mutilate themselves by eating ground glass for the camera. A child molester dressed like Santa Claus hurls down the street in a pimpmobile with little boys beating on the locked windows and pleading for help. There’s a baseball bat made of razor blades and flame torches that burn down a school bus filled with screaming children. Garish colors and a production design of melted crayons make the whole movie look like inspired graffiti. Each massacre is followed by headlines like “Parents Smile As Bodies Pile.” Yeah, I guess it’s supposed to be a comedy, but how can you tell? At the screening I attended, the audience was howling, but I spent most of the movie with my eyes closed. It’s hard to know if it’s supposed to be a comedy or just a comedy by default. Quite the most appalling piece of junk I have seen lately, Hobo With a Shotgun just lies there like an autopsy.

Hobo With a Shotgun

Running time 86 minutes

Written by John Davies, Rob Cotterill and Jason Eisener

Directed by Jason Eisener

Starring Rutger Hauer, Pasha Ebrahimi, Robb Wells


Movie Review: ‘Hobo With a Shotgun’ Is As Classy As It Sounds