Hobo With a Shotgun

Dir: Jason Eisener
Star: Rutger Hauer, Molly Dunsworth, Nick Bateman, Brian Downey

Trash City
Top 10: 2011
A delightful throwback to the 80's style hyperviolent exploitation flick see Hauer play the titular vagabond, who hops off a train in Hope Town, only to find it fails completely to live up its name. It has become a crime-ridden cesspool, overseen by The Drake (Downey) and his sons Ivan and Slick. After rescuing hooker Abby (Dunsworth) from Slick's attentions, he is badly-beaten by the cops to who he delivers Slick, though Abby rescues him and tends to his wounds. When the Hobo stops a robbery at a pawn-store, it's the turning point, and he becomes a vigilante, dishing out double-barrelled justice to The Drake's men, and the others who have turned Hope Town into the festering sore that it has become. Needless to say, the crime boss is none too happy at the cowed residents having a figure other than him to whom they can turn. His sons fail to deal with the Hobo, so The Drake calls in The Plague, a pair of heavily-armoured killers, to deal with the threat, once and for all.

This is a gory, relentlessly offensive and enormously fun blast: in how many other films would the makers dare have the bad guys incinerate a bus full of schoolkids? But it centers on a typically-great performance from Hauer, who takes a character that could easily have been nothing more than a tattier version of Charles Bronson, and gives him and actual heart, even as the madness oscillates all around him. Credit also due to Downey, who delivers a startling turn that's a complete 180 from his best known role, milquetoast Stanley Tweedle in Lexx. It has a consistent tone, something often forgotten by those who want to be "grindhouse", slipping in little smirks to their intended audience, to prove they don't mean it. Eisener is deadly serious, and the film is all the better for it. If the production values are occasionally flaky, the intent is clear from the moment the Hobo arrives on a rail, as the theme for Cannibal Holocaust plays. If you're thinking, "That's awesome!" - and you should be - I need say little more.

[July 2011]

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