There I was, sitting on my pathetic excuse for a couch, watching Hobo with a Shotgun with a mild (nothing to write home about) smirk on my face. When, all of a sudden, something exceedingly awesome occurs. Mind you, the film was delivering its fair share of awesome up until the point where this something-based occurrence of an exceedingly awesome nature transpires. It's just that, well, what happens is so awesome that my eyes literally widened. Now, I know I'm guilty of using a lot of hyperbolic language to describe the physical effects a film inflicts on my organic structure. But seriously, when the thing I'm sheepishly referring to takes place in this film, my eyes, I swear to god, increased in size by a full inch. Of course, those who have seen the film, directed by Jason Eisener and with cinematography by Karim Hussain (directer of Subconscious Cruelty), already know what I'm talking about. And those who haven't probably think it's something nylon-related. While it's true, I was quite taken with the multiple instances that feature the alarmingly symmetrical Molly Dunsworth stomping around
Hope Scum Town in fishnet stockings. But her fishnet stockings, and I can't believe I'm about to say this, take a back seat to... The Plague!!!!!
That's right, baby. The Motherfuckin' Plague destroy all comers with their no-nonsense approach to violence. When the film's primary villain, The Drake (Brian Downey of Lexx fame, "I worship his shadow") says, "Summon The Plague," I was like: What's The Plague? As I soon found out, The Plague are not a what, but a who.
Nonsensical side note: When I heard the makers of the inexplicably popular television show The Walking Dead based the first half of their most recent season on Albert Camus' "The Plague," I nearly fell on the floor laughing. Do these chuckleheads actually think they're making art? I mock asked myself. Anyway, get real, losers, nothing on your badly acted joke of a show will be as awesome as The Plague are in Hobo with a Shotgun.
I think I might have misspoke earlier. No, The Walking Dead still sucks. You know when I described The Plague's approach to violence as "no-nonsense"? Well, that couldn't be further from the truth, as The Plague's approach to violence is rife with nonsense.
How else would you characterize the sight of two armor-clad demons storming a hospital wielding machetes and a noose-gun? Sure, it might look impractical, but you gotta admit, there's nothing cooler than the sight of two armor-clad demons killing defenseless healthcare providers in an overly complicated manner. Wait, that didn't come out right. Actually, it sort of did. You see, the fact that The Plague seem to go out of their way to slaughter doctors, nurses and orderlies just adds more fuel to their already awesome fire.
What, you might ask, causes The Drake to summon The Plague? You won't believe this, but a hobo with a shotgun is the reason The Plague were summoned. I know, how tough can a mere hobo with a shotgun be? Ah, but this hobo is played by none other than Rutger Hauer. Exactly, 'nuff said.
Arriving in Scum Town on the rails, the unnamed hobo, who we'll call from now on, "The Hobo," quickly discovers that The Drake pretty much runs things in this town, when he watches him and his two sons, Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman), decapitate his brother (Robb Wells, The Trailer Park Boys) with a barbed wire noose in the middle of a suburban street. I don't know who played the part, but kudos to the woman in the white bikini who dances in the fire hose quality neck-gore blood spray. Oh, and Ivan's line reminding the onlookers to wash their dicks was cute too.
Dreaming of buying a lawnmower and starting his own business, the Hobo makes a cardboard sign ("I am tired... Need $ for a lawnmower"), plops down on the street and begins begging for spare change. Since things are a tad slow (he's nowhere near reaching his goal of 49.99, the price of the lawnmower he wants), the Hobo decides to check out what's going on across the street at one of The Drake's clubs. Inside he finds homeless people being tortured by punks, drug addicts playing video games, and Slick and Ivan behaving like all-around sick fucks.
While abusing Otis (Drew O'Hara), a video game playing drug addict (the game he's playing, by the way, is called "The Plague."), Slick and Ivan are briefly challenged by a prostitute named Abby (Molly Dunsworth), who chimes in by telling them to let things slide. To which Slick responds, "The only thing I'm going to let slide is my dick in your pussy."
I don't know, after hearing Ivan's line about washing dicks and Slick's dick slide comment, I'm starting to like these guys. Wearing Ray-Ban sunglasses and black and white varsity jackets with their names on the back, Slick and Ivan (who drive a black and white Bricklin SV-1 - woo-hoo! gull-wing doors!) grew on me as the film progressed. If the Slick's dick slide comment failed to seal the deal, then his next dick-related line directed at Abby surely did. He asks Abby, "You know how I can tell I'm making you wet? (she plays along by saying no) Because you're making my dick thirsty." Ha! Okay, it's official, I love these guys.
Rescuing Abby from a night that was probably going to be filled with all sorts of atrocities, the Hobo takes an unconscious Slick to the police station. Unfortunately, the police chief is in The Drake's pocket. Meaning, Ivan comes over to collect his brother. As a parting gift, Slick carves the word "Scum" in the Hobo's chest with a knife. Luckily, the Hobo runs into Abby, who's still out "selling her hole." Taking the wounded hobo home, Abby let's him sleep at her place.
Earning enough money to buy a lawnmower by appearing in one of those bum-fight videos (the bum-fight filmmaker forces him to eat glass), the Hobo heads down to the pawn shop to pick it up. As you might expect, just as the Hobo is about to make his purchase, the pawn shop is robbed by masked assailants wielding guns and machetes. While looking at the 49.99 price tag on the lawnmower, he notices the shotgun hanging on a nearby wall is also 49.99.
Anyone care to guess which item the Hobo decides to purchase? Since the film isn't called "Hobo with a Lawnmower," you can pretty much guess which item he chose. In order to make sure the shotgun is in working order, the Hobo blows away the three robbers. The sensation he felt when he blew away the robbers must have been invigorating, because the Hobo proceeds to blow away pimps, pedophiles and drug dealers; even the bum-fight filmmaker is on the receiving end of the Hobo's shotgun.
When the Hobo's shotgun antics become headline news, The Drake scolds Slick and Ivan for not wasting the Hobo when they had the chance. After The Drake gives him some fatherly advice, Slick grabs a flamethrower, hops on a school bus and kills all the children on board. I know, way harsh, Slick. To matters even harsher, Ivan is cranking "Disco Inferno" on two boomboxes as Slick sets the kids on fire. Threatening to kill even more children if Scum Town's population don't rise up against the homeless, Slick and Ivan have basically turned the townspeople into a giant hobo-murdering mob.
During the first half of the movie, I would occasionally wonder: Why would Rutger Hauer agree to be in something so sick and twisted? I mean, not only does Slick burn to death a school bus filled with children, Ivan kills George Stroumboulopoulos with a skate! Then it dawned on me: Why wouldn't he agree to be in this movie? This is the role of a lifetime. One that doesn't just call for him to kill scumbags with a shotgun. He has few moments here and there that contain real emotion (the bear scene and the maternity ward monologue).
In terms of sex appeal, you can't beat the scene where a cop says to his partner about Abby: "She's so hot... I'd eat the peanuts out of her shit." Then moments later tells her: "I love the smell of your asshole." Just for the record, the scene is sexy not because of what the cop is saying about Abby, but because she's wearing black fishnet stockings with a mini-raincoat.
While I simply adore Slick and Ivan and the giddiness they display while committing heinous atrocities. And it makes me happy to know that Slick and Ivan have become fan favourites since the film's release, especially amongst female viewers. Nothing can top the badassery of The Plague. Summoned by The Drake to hunt down the Hobo, the scene where The Plague arrive at the hospital is too awesome for words. The use of music (Power Glove's "Hunters"), the cinematography, the camera work, the violence, everything about it is spectacular. Hell, I think I've watched it at least ten times.
One of the few films to come out of the whole Grindhouse debacle that isn't totally lame (the film began as a fake trailer), Hobo with a Shotgun manages to capture the spirit of 1970s/1980s exploitation cinema. Whereas countless other so-called throwback/retro flicks fail to capture said spirit, the makers of this film seem to truly understand what the words "exploitation" and "sleaze" really mean.