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HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN (2011) (*1/2)

Jason Eisener won Robert Rodriguez’s SXSW Grindhouse trailer contest for his fake trailer HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, which was featured in Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s GRINDHOUSE. Unlike that film and Rodriguez’s fake trailer turned feature film MACHETE, this film is simply an exploitation flick. The film has little purpose other than being violent and bloody.

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Jason Eisener won Robert Rodriguez’s SXSW Grindhouse trailer contest for his fake trailer HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, which was featured in Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s GRINDHOUSE. Unlike that film and Rodriguez’s fake trailer turned feature film MACHETE, this film is simply an exploitation flick. The film has little purpose other than being violent and bloody.

Here, the Hobo is played by Rutger Hauer. It is a testament to his professionalism that he gives a real performance within this muck. He’s a homeless vet looking to save enough money to buy a lawnmower so he can make an honest living. He comes to Hope Town, which is like a cross between Detroit in ROBOCOP and some punk run town in MAD MAX. Why he thinks this is a good spot to beg is unknown? I would have picked the suburbs before panhandling in a place where the town’s welcome sign is spray painted over to read Scum Town.

Scum Town is run by the ruthless criminal The Drake (Brian Downey, SNOW ANGELS), who murders his brother in broad daylight by putting a manhole cover around his neck, pushing him down a manhole, attaching a chain and yanking that chain with a pickup. One of The Drake’s ladies does a FLASHDANCE routine in the gushing blood just to make you know they’re the bad guys. The Drake is assisted by his demented jock sons Slick (Gregory Smith, TV’s EVERWOOD) and Ivan (Nick Bateman), who are played so over the top one expects the actors’ next roles to be in porn.

One night the hobo runs into Slick about to rape and murder the prostitute Abby (Molly Dunsworth, TV’s HAVEN). The hobo goes off on Slick and takes him to the cops, but they’re corrupt and leave him to die bleeding on the streets. Abby finds him and takes him in. Bad decision on her part, because let me tell you she gets put through the ringer for backing the hobo.

This is the problem with the whole film. Everything is overkill. The bad guys murder and torture like they have an endless supply of victims. You just get numb after a few minutes. This is one of those films where jamming in the "clever" gag is more important than telling a logical story. When I say logical I mean logical in its own world. In the heat of a fight, the hobo duct tapes a shotgun to a guy's crotch while another enemy waits in the next room. The gag a) makes no sense and b) theoretically would take so long that we feel it slow down the pacing instantly even though the duct taping is cut around. Whatever tongue in cheek fun GRINDHOUSE had with blood and guts is almost completely absent. When it does come, it almost seems by accident and comes off cheesy more than funny or witty.

The sheer gruesome ridiculousness of it all makes the hobo’s fight for justice both futile and boring. After a while, watching the hobo gun down one lowlife after another becomes no more entertaining than watching the villains torturing people. They’re all wallowing in the sewer.

GRINDHOUSE’s PLANET TERROR was a free for all homage and satire of nasty exploitation horror flicks. This film is just trying to shock people with its copious bloodletting. Sadly the only thing shocking about this film is just how bad it is. Talk about rooting around in the trash.

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Rick DeMott
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