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Intelligent Grindhouse is Not an Oxymoron: Hobo with a Shotgun

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hoboshotgun_posterA few years ago grindhouse, or exploitation cinema, was reborn with the release of the double-feature Planet Terror and Death Proof with directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino steering the machine. It was a gamble to bring the campy genre with usually amateurish actors back to the big-screen with a big budget, veteran actors, and high expectations.

In place of grimy previews of biker-gang movies that you can order from Amazon and maybe find in a box set at SunCoast Video, they unveiled trailers to fake up-and-coming exploitation films. Some of the best included:

Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving

Don’t

Machete

Hobo with a Shotgun

Now both Machete and Hobo with a Shotgun have made it to the big-screen themselves, leading many(mainly me) to hope for the release of Thanksgiving and, if anyone has any balls to raise Lucio Fulci from the dead, Don’t.

Machete was crafted much like Planet Terror: an obviously plotted script with high profile actors and actresses that incessantly goofs on itself. I don’t say this as a bad thing. I loved it. I’m surprised I didn’t review it. But that’s for another time.

Hobo with a Shotgun has elements of this camp style to gore, but not so much that you fall into fits of giggling every 10 minutes. Whether it was the directing of Jason Eisener, the subtle acting of Rutger Hauer as the hobo, or the cinematography of the many landscape shots, this movie forces you to take it seriously…for the most part.

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The premise of the movie is obviously grindhouse. A homeless drifter(Rutger Hauer) arrives to Hope Town, a city of crooked cops, prostitution, and gratuitous violence. After seeing the worst of humanity while begging for change, the hobo uses his earning to buy a shotgun with an apparently limitless amount of shells, and goes on a vigilante rampage, killing thieves, murderers, bum-fight promoters, crooked cops, and pedophiles dressed as Santa Claus. His bloody path helps him befriend local prostitute Abby(played by Molly Dunsworth) brings him up against the head of a criminal empire focused on exploitation for an audience, Drake, and his sons Slick and Ivan. This leads to a final show where the public determine who they fear, and who they love.

The movie follows this plot directly, and while the deaths are bloody and over-the-top, and the idea of an ancient duo of demon assassins called The Plague, that have killed figureheads from Jesus to Kennedy, are sent to kill a lowly hobo is insane, I still take the movie seriously somehow.

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The idea of the hobo is what seems to keep the movie grounded, and cinematically appealing. Here is a man with no friends, no family, no home, but still keeps a sense of human duty to help those that are less fortunate in other ways. Yes, a homeless man is helping the less fortunate in a spiritual sense. It’s fucking poetic! He does it while he gets his ass kicked, and he continues it when he buys his magical reloading shotgun. It’s like The Crow meets Taxi Driver.

Bloody, reflective, moving: not what a generic grindhouse film usually has, but Hobo with a Shotgun sets the new standard.

I give this move 4 out of 5 brown-baggers.

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Patrick began collecting a library of VHS tapes, DVDs, and CDs when he was young, and continues to build a library that could easily double as a video store and/or a revitalized Tower Records.

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