Hobo With a Shotgun

tn_hobowshotgunHOBO WITH A SHOTGUN – which came out this week on the dvd and the blu-ray – stars Rutger Hauer (BLIND FURY) as the titleistical armed derelict. I don’t think he ever gets a name, he’s just an old drunk who rides the rails into Hope City, better known as “Fuck City,” a small Canadian town overrun with barbaric crime and ruled savagely by a psychotic crimelord called “The Drake” (Bryan Downey) and his two douchebag sons, who I think are supposed to be modeled after Tom Cruise in RISKY BUSINESS. They wear sunglasses and letterman’s jackets but participate in public beheadings and sex slavery. Some of the cops are corrupt too, and one likes to serenade the local prostitutes with smooth come-ons like “You’re so hot I wanna cut off my dick and rub it all over your tits.”

mp_hobowshotgunIn other words it basically takes place in Tromaville, and the feel is similar to some of the better Troma movies, except without many laughs. One difference is that the punks who beat people up in Fuck City are obviously authentic punks. You can tell by their carefully riveted and band-logoed jackets. Troma dresses people up with face paint and blue mohawks and shit, they’re more like escapees from a ROAD WARRIOR ripoff attacking old ladies and robbing fast food restaurants. It makes more sense that way. I mean when was the last time you saw a modern day punk beating somebody up? I think alot of them are kind of smart and shy beneath the leather. They’re just a different type of nerd that’s into a specific genre of music instead of Lords of the Rings books or whatever. They wouldn’t hurt a fly or eat dairy. But post-apocalyptians can’t be trusted.

Another difference is that this is deliberately retro-styled, with a well-done ’80s style keyboard score, super-grainy film stock, and a scene in an old fashioned video game arcade. That’s because this came out of a promotion for GRINDHOUSE – this director Jason Eisener won a contest with a fake HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN trailer he made with his friends, and like MACHETE they expanded it into a real movie.

It was obviously harder for Eisener to do with his resources than it was for Robert Rodriguez, who can get Bruce Willis to come to his house and film on a green screen for a weekend any time one of his kids comes up with an idea for a movie. But in my opinion the novelty of MACHETE, as not-as-good-as-most-people-hoped as it ended up being, is more culturally valuable than HOBO. It has a better reason to exist. Now hold on, hear me out here, fellas. See, HOBO is imitating an old style of low budget filmmaking, but they’re actually doing it with less money, resources and skills than the people that made the real ones. MACHETE is doing similar but with more money and resources than the real movies, and that’s more unusual because you can do something different instead of a pale imitation.

I can imagine a “real” HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN made in the early ’80s, it might even have starred Rutger Hauer, and it would’ve been better than this because there would’ve been no irony, it would’ve meant it. MACHETE I feel like could not have existed, not with such a weird cast (Trejo, De Niro, Seagal, Lohan, Rodriguez, Johnson), probly not with him riding an explosion on his motorcycle, maybe not even with its emphasis on Mexican immigrants getting the shit end of the stick and wanting to kick ass. It took a Mexican-American dude building an empire on SPY KIDS movies to make that a reality.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no value in making HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN. It’s got some well done parts and some clever ideas, so I enjoyed it okay. The bad guys run around wearing ice skates just so they can use them as weapons. And Hauer adds something to it with his craggly-face and weird performance. It’s not like Kevin-Bacon-in-DEATH-SENTENCE dedication, it’s more like the guy is just a nut. He kinda seems like a crazy guy playing a crazy guy, if that makes sense. (In my opinion it does.)

Like in THE TOXIC AVENGER the criminals try to come up with the most repellant things to do, so they blowtorch a school bus full of kids and murder a reporter on live TV. I guess my favorite example of an over-the-top-sleazy villain is one that’s also in the trailer, it’s a guy dressed as Santa Claus in his car looking at kids and jerking off. The Hobo With a Shotgun spots him and does not feel St. Nick is owed a fair trial.

The scene where the hobo acquires the shotgun makes no sense, but it’s kinda funny. He’s in the pawnshop ready to spring for his lawnmower but the store is getting held up so he instead takes a shotgun that’s the same price off the wall (apparently already loaded) and uses it to blow the thieves away. He still insists on paying for the gun. Then he just goes around blowing people away and for a while it seems like it’s supposed to be a magic gun that doesn’t need loading, but then eventually they do show him putting some shells in. I know they’re not going for realism here, but I kinda think it would be more interesting if we found out how he was able to afford all that ammo.

I think the ironic distance of the movie causes me to be a little distanced myself. When I watch a DEATH WISH sequel or a WALKING TALL or VIGILANTE I feel like the people who made it really are mad and looking for justice through any means necessary, or (actually more often) believe that that’s what the audience wants to feel and is happy to give it to them. With this movie it’s obviously not serious and expects you to know that. Eisener does not believe the city is this bad and is not frustrated and wanting to strike back violently. With a real vigilante movie you can be passionate, but this is just a movie that nods its head knowingly at real vigilante movies, so the best you can do is nod your head knowingly back at it.

I gotta admit that I had a bit of a prejudice dealing with this movie that it doesn’t seem like most people have. When that GRINDHOUSE contest happened I remember alot of people loved the HOBO trailer and were talking it up. I never actually got around to watching it until now. Not that I didn’t believe it was good, but it did kind of bother me that they used the word “hobo.” There’s a thing in comedy, not as common now as it was several years ago, where people thought it was funny to refer to a “hobo,” often in the context of having a dark secret that they killed a hobo. I know they’re trying to use an old timey phrase to be wacky, but I feel a little uncomfortable about everybody deciding human misery is the latest cute thing to joke about. And it’s kind of an extra “fuck you” to not get the terminology right. I don’t think they’re usually talking about a hobo, they’re talking about a homeless person.

“Hobo” is not a synonym for “homeless person,” “bum,” “wino,” “tramp” or “beggar.” Hobos (more common during the Depression) are basically migrants or nomads. They’re people who travel around looking for whatever work they can get and then move on. “Bums” also were travelers, but tried to go without working when possible. Hobos believe in work but want to travel and see the world and be free. They have their own Hobo Code, both in the sense of a code of honor (they actually voted on a series of rules at a Hobo Convention, no shit) and in the sense of pictograms that they draw places to give tips to other hobos who might come through.

I’m not sure “Hobo With a Shotgun” is even a hobo. He does come into town on the back of a train, so he might be. And he does have that idea of mowing lawns. But that seems like more of a far off dream than an immediate plan for work. He doesn’t seem to look hard for jobs. He does beg for money. He also seems to be alcoholic and mentally ill, two things that tend to force homelessness on people, not giving them a chance to deliberately choose a hobo lifestyle.

His dream is not owning a farm or starting a business or something, but copping a fifty dollar used lawnmower at a pawn shop. I know they’re not trying to be mean, but at best it’s a little condescending.

I’m not saying I’m deeply offended. He’s supposed to be the good guy, obviously. And the actual Troma movies have way more questionable jokes about AIDS, hate crimes, retarded people, you name it. But it just seems a little weird to be so amused with “hobos,” when it’s such a depressing problem we see every day and try not to make eye contact with. Even living in a relatively small city like Seattle you got homeless people everywhere. Some of them you get used to like they’re your neighbors. There’s the guy who wears a plastic bag on his head and mutters to himself, the balding guy at the bus stop every night who says “Spare change, big guy?,” the guy with the afro pick and the little radio, the weird muscle flexing guy, although I haven’t seen him around in a couple years, he might’ve left, got busted or died.

There are the guys downtown who pretend they just got here from New Orleans and got their car impounded and need a specific amount of money. The guy, I think he’s from Haiti or somewhere, who asks you your name and uses the letters as the first letter in each line of a poem, then he asks for money. The guys who try to sell you batteries or razors. The ones who say they need money for the bus but you recognize them from asking you that for years and their eyes look more and more dead as time goes on.

In my neighborhood there are always different guys sitting on the corner by the liquor store or leaning up against the wall behind it. There was an old lady who carried a ridiculous amount of blankets and clothing in a shopping cart – not sure what happened to her. There are the kids here every once in a while looking real sad with their heads down, clutching signs about being stranded away from home with no money. Only a smelly dog. There are people that fall asleep in the doorways, people that just flop over and pass out on the sidewalks. I never want to be that asshole that just steps over a guy and pretends not to see them, I hope that if they were actually hurt I would notice and try to help them. But if they’re sleeping something off I don’t want to be the asshole that wakes them up either.

There was the lady that sold Real Change at a couple different grocery stores, I saw her on the bus for years. I never knew until after she died that she had been homeless since being kicked out of a building for filing a complaint against the landlord. Who knows what the story was there. I know there are definitely some shitty landlords out there. I’m sure some people would say well, she’s dumb, she should’ve known that filing a complaint against the owner of your building was gonna cause her some problems. So you’re comfortable saying that because somebody did something you think was dumb that means they should die on a sidewalk? See, I can’t agree with you on that one.

Alot of the spare-changers, if you tell them you don’t have any they still bless you or tell you to have a good night or something. Very occasionally they curse you out. Sometimes I’m being honest, I really would give them change but I don’t have any. So I get pissed if they do that. I’m not exactly rolling in the money myself, why do you act like I owe you something? I don’t even know you.

Then again there’s Jesus. He would say to help them. He was really into helping poor people. Easier for him though with his bread and fish multiplying powers and what not. But it’s obviously a good philosophy.

I wish I knew how to help these people. Instead I learn to get jaded and desensitized to their plight. But when I let my guard down, even if they’re messed up I got alot of sympathy for them. I think most of them are out-of-control addicted or mentally ill with no system in place to help them cope. They got no family, sometimes because their relatives are dead, sometimes because the family’s got good reason not to want to talk to them anymore. But whatever the situation they’re obviously in a shitty place in their life and if I could be Jesus and bring ’em inside and feed ’em and teach ’em to fish I would love to do it. But I don’t know a way. There are probly some situations where giving them money can help them, but usually you figure it’s only feeding the habit. You tell yourself that, anyway, and you’re probly right. Also, you’ve seen the guy with the bag on his head throw his money in the bushes. Some of the other guys follow him around because they know he does that.

It’s just a shitty situation, and it gets worse in times like this. The economy’s doing bad, plus the politicians believe they gotta keep cutting taxes, so the various governments go broke, they gotta start cutting budgets. That means less homeless shelters, less women’s shelters, less city workers to look after the homeless people, bring them blankets during the winter. It means less mental health services, less social workers, less treatment for addicts, and therefore more people on the streets. And you know how bad our fuckin insurance situation is. If somebody is out of work because they’re crazy you can’t just tell them “hey, stop being crazy.” Or you can, but they probly won’t do it, or be able to do it even if they want to. You gotta have a good job with good benefits first, then you can be crazy. Otherwise it’s trouble.

So I see Rutger Hauer with his sun-hardened wrinkles, his dirty hat and layers of clothing, his callused hands, I got a hard time thinking “ha ha, hobo. Ha ha, he gives her a cup of shitty dandelions, ’cause he’s homeless, he can’t afford real flowers.” If it seemed more authentic it might be cool, but they do this cartoon version. I mean I think he could manage to steal something better than dandelions.

But I guess they’re trying. I do appreciate that they got basically a “Bum Fights” guy as a villain that gets a comeuppance. I hope some of you don’t know about this, that there really were some scumbags who paid homeless dudes to fight each other and sold video tapes of it. Widely, commercially distributed professional videos and DVDs, a whole series of them, until I think they got sued or something. It’s good to see a guy like that feel the wrath of Hobo w/ Shotgun.

If all that shit I brought up doesn’t interfere with your enjoyment of a movie like this (which for most it probly doesn’t or shouldn’t) maybe you’ll think the movie’s better than okay. But maybe not. I feel like it doesn’t have enough jokes but isn’t designed to be taken seriously either. So I can’t appreciate it on the level of THE EXTERMINATOR or something because it’s tongue-in-cheek, but also not on the level of BLACK DYNAMITE, because it only has a couple of laughs. It’s not serious enough to be drama and not funny enough to be comedy, like that movie THE WASH starring Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, except instead of a car wash it’s about a homeless individual and Snoop Dogg isn’t in it at all, or on the soundtrack. Bummer.

I will say this, it has a perfect ending. Not a joke, not a parody, just a fateful conclusion to the story of this character, a little poetic flourish and some of the ol’ dramatic synths as the credits roll. That goes a long way.

Actually, thinking about that ending I am prepared to say that HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN is probly better than THE WASH, from what I remember. But it’s no TOXIC AVENGER.

This entry was posted on Friday, July 8th, 2011 at 9:37 pm and is filed under Action, Crime, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

157 Responses to “Hobo With a Shotgun”

  1. awww, it’s sweet to see that you care about the homeless so much Vern, not living in the big city I don’t see homeless people often, but when I do it’s a depressing sight

    if you thought Hobo With a Shotgun was bad though, I read a pretty pulpy horror novel by a pretty pulpy horror author named Richard Laymon called Funland

    the book was about a large group of creepy homeless people that terrorize a boardwalk amusement park in California and a group of teenagers that try to run them off

    the book depicted all the homeless people as being scary subhuman monsters and took a turn into The Funhouse territory near the end, the only attempt to sidestep the book’s hilariously over the top hatred of the homeless was a likable female drifter character

    it was so over the top though that I was offended, but it was an entertaining book regardless, all of the Richard Laymon books I’ve read so far have basically been 80’s horror movies in book form

    sorry to go so off topic into an unrelated book, but Vern’s section about the homeless reminded me heavily of it

  2. “Homeless guy” or “street musician” is how I always refer to the people who seem to live on the sidewalks. The term “hobo” has always seemed appropriate only for old timey characters who, yeah, traveled by train or by foot with no intent to establish permanent residence. They favor bandanas and maybe a bindle for some reason in my idea of a true hobo.

    I’ve been lucky to have all relatively positive one-on-one experiences with the homeless, paying a guy a couple dollars & an apple to carry grocery bags for a few blocks or jamming out to Lou’s xylophone melodies or advising Byron that it’s not smart to tell people you have weed and then try to sell ground up blades of grass in used gum wrappers for $5. My friends used to have steady work for a couple homeless guys as doormen/cop-watch during keg parties. I’ve drunkenly bought & shared many a 4 a.m. pizza with hungry guys who couldn’t afford it.

    I too wish that I could be Jesus to these people, that I could reconcile my monthly sponsorships for a Guatemalan & a Zambian kid with my sporadic gifts of a few scattered dollars to the people in my own city who need it. I wish it were enough to say that the best thing we Americans can do for them is vote Democrat, give to Goodwill, and volunteer, but they are still going to be in a fragile state even if they do make it off the street, get a telephone number & address they can use on a job application, and even make it to the upper-lower class. http://consumerist.com/2011/07/chase-gets-man-thrown-in-jail-for-fraudulent-check-except-the-check-is-legit.html via http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-chait/91605/man-jailed-cashing-check

    But I enjoyed HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN nonetheless. I couldn’t take it so seriously as to let real world concerns ruin the fake world of the movie, especially with it featuring a twisted fairy tale motif. Its shock appeal is mostly fun & satisfactory, though, as I’ve commented before, I was underwhelmed at the amount & thoroughness of scenes that actually depict the titular premise.

  3. I don’t agree that this is exactly the movie that would be made in the ’80s. I think it would only be made now, because it’s made BY people who loved those movies in the ’80s. So they made the ultimate ’80s low budget actioner they never got to see. Real ’80s schlock weren’t this extreme, didn’t have action sequences as creative as the ice skates or the shotgun montage (how many different ways can you portray a shotgun blast? Lots)

    I am especially sensitive to the homeless situation. So much of my life has been based on having a home and being inside, since I was little it broke my heart to imagine people living on the street. I’ve been as involved as bringing leftovers to people I knew slept at the local movietheater, to as distant as just giving a dollar when I pass someone who seems safe enough to approach. I thought of none of this during Hobo with a Shotgun, except that I did feel bad that Rutger never got his lawnmower. He really just wanted a lawnmower, and he never got his lawnmower. This was really about the guy with nothing to lose taking out the garbage.

    Nobody ever mentions Molly Dunsworth either. I thought she was extraordinary, like a female Bruce Campbell. Sweet for the heart of gold but sexy for the hooker and getting all bloodied up. I can’t believe how deeply they mutilate her in this movie. I’m trying to pitch Eisener the sequel, TEACHER WITH A LAWNMOWER.

  4. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    July 9th, 2011 at 12:35 am

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a trauma movie. I didn’t think The Toxic Avenger was a real film, having said that, I didn’t think Hobo… should have made it all the way to full length movie either.

  5. oh speaking of Troma, there’s something I’m afraid I’ve never gotten

    out of the few Troma movies I’ve watched (I haven’t seen Toxic Avenger, but I have seen Sgt Kabuki Man and Class of Nukem High), I found them painfully boring, not bad enough to be entertaining and certainly not good enough to be good movies, a few wacky moments sure but mostly they’re just kinda…..there

    so I’m afraid I can’t understand why Troma has such a following, my cousin did meet Lloyd Kaufman once and said he was a nice guy though, so there’s that

  6. I figured they were setting a “Hooker With a Shotgun” sequel, but I like “Teacher with a Lawnmower”

    (Spoilers, srsly)

    I was also kind of surprised there was no comment on how it was the girl that really came through in the clutch and went on the good old hero journey? She got fucked up and came through and you know they can’t resist giving the lady a special shotgun friendly hook if they ever follow up. That’s how these guys roll.

    Or maybe she’ll take the Road Warrior guy up on his job offer.

  7. My wife hated this film. She felt it was very mean spirited and pointless. She usually likes movies like Grindhouse and Takashi Miike films too, this one just hit a sour note for her.

    I feel pretty torn. On one hand I felt that the film had a truckload of great, crazy little ideas/gags, and I like a lot of the production design. On the other hand, I think the film is pretty shallow and kind of half hearted.

    Put it this way: if the movie would have been about the Hobo taking down the ”bum fights” movie producer, I would have been standing on my seat cheering. As it was, he was fighting against a third rate dick tracy villian who didn’t even really make sense.

    As for real life, I used to live in humboldt country, which has a very high number of homeless persons. The mental institution can’t afford to give much care. Drug use is out of control. I remember looking out the window and seeing a kid, maybe 15 years old, laying on the sidewalk. I went out there to see if he was ok. He was whacked out on something. Homeless, in rags during winter. I went in the house, made him a sandwich and my roommate gave him his army jacket. He was so wigged out we couldn’t even talk with him, we just put the jacket on him and left the sandwich there. A few hours later he stumbled off. What do you even do? What does a sandwich even mean to him at that point?

    I think the filmmakers meant well, but they should have spent some more time thinking on these issues. Anyone who does so will have enough REAL anger and frustration to want to go get a shotgun, no comic book villains needed.

  8. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a Troma movie. Do they have the same Mountain Dew commercial feel to them that HOBO has? “Look how extreme this is! We just killed a busload of children! Did you see that?! HAHAHA! Do the Dew!” It seemed like the makers of HOBO came from the Stan Lee school of punctuation, i.e. every sentence must end with an exclamation point.

    I do love the soundtrack though. Anyone know if it is available for purchase? I saw some of the orchestral stuff for free at the composer’s site but I can’t find the cool John Carpenter-y tracks that I really want.

  9. @Griff: Even as a big TOXIC AVENGER fan, I can admit that a lot of Troma movies are boring, terrible or even unwatchable. Probably 90% of them. But occasionally they make some really good ones. I mean, nothing that would wind up getting a Criterion Collection treatment, but entertaing oddities. THE TOXIC AVENGER is good, I heard really good things about POULTRYGEIST too. Obviously you have to be into that kind of thing in the first place, but it’s not the kind of crap that Charles Band makes when he tries to be the Lloyd Kaufman of the West Coast (like, say, THE GINGERDEAD MAN).

  10. Along with “killing a hobo”, I’ve gotten really sick of people joking about killing hookers and putting them in their trunk.

  11. Rutger Hauer was the inimitable (inimited?) Harley Stone in SPLIT SECOND (1992).

    “He’s seen the future / Now he has to kill it / He’ll need bigger guns.”

    That’s game. I’ll see this one.

  12. I’m glad to see the lack of love here for Hobo. I watched it, didn’t hate, but also failed to find much redeeming merit in its existence. Then I look on the rest of the magical internet and it seems as if so many people adored it. I started to feel this movie might be like the restaurant across town. The one that everybody I know is raving about and then I go and the salad has too much dresssing on it, the meat is over cooked, the sides are a little soggy and the dessert is not sweet enough. I am disappointed.

    Then someone else raves about it and I wonder if maybe it was me going at the wrong time and I should give it another chance. After this review and the comments so far, naw. It’s just that some people have different tastes I guess. And I for one am getting tired of all these idealize the 80s movies that seem to have but one intention – take the worst cheesy parts of the movies I watched growing up and then make a big long overblown movie of those moments.

    When are modern filmmakers gonna understand (and I’m talking to you Adam “Hatchet” Green) that those cheeseball moments were probably embarassing to the filmmakers at the time? They didn’t want them in there, they just didn’t have the budget to do anything else. It’s kind of like the awkward kid at school, the one with the big nose and the huge mole in the center of his forehead. He didn’t want those characteristics, but he was stuck with them. That is the particular charm of some of the older less technically polished movies.

    But then, movies like this exist and it seems as if many of the new up and coming voices in independent cinema do not understand movies at all. They just understand a series of one off shots with no true backbone to the story.

    The only film that has felt sincere since this throwback shit started is Black Dynamite. So I am hoping that guy gets the money to do more films. As for the rest of them, nice try guys but sincerity is always better than wink wink nod nod in my book. Just saying.

  13. This review reminded me of that terrible episode of South Park where the homeless were treated like zombies. I find South Park hit or miss in general, but somehow I couldn’t muster up the energy to find two multi-millionaires mocking the less fortunate all that amusing. In general, it’s tough for me to see the humor in anything that attacks those with the least amount of power in society.

  14. Vern — I’m quite surprised that you had this reaction to the film because I felt almost the exact opposite. I thought it was a surprisingly sensetive film to the plight of the homeless (hell, there’s even a big dramatic speech about how you should respect homeless people more) and treats them with quite a bit of dignity without brushing off their serious problems. I love that Hauer definitely seems a little mentally unstable, but the movie likes him anyway. In fact, the thing that most impressed me is that I think it likes him best for things other films might find pathetic — his moments of confused sweetness and his humble dream of starting over. Ironically, his shotgun-fueled crime spree is a small part of the movie, and the real conflict is not if he will kill the bad guys but if he will get out of the vigilante business alive. The movie wants you to care about what happens to him more than if he gets his revenge. I like that.

    I also strongly disagree that this is some kind of hipster ironic take on this genre. If anything, I thought GRINDHOUSE (especially Rodrigeuz’s stuff) seemed to think it was cute to do these little ironic takes on this stuff with the big budgets and big stars. I thought this one seemed more like a real movie than any of those, full of actual imaginative perversity and exactly the kind of near-surrealism you’d want in something like this. You’re right that there aren’t a lot of laughs in this, but I feel that’s intentional, and the ones which are there are results of its joyfully over-the-top production rather than parodies of old exploitation films which haven’t even really been made for decades. In other words –especially since this was made on a micro-budget– I really felt like this one was the real deal, not some cutsey homage.

    And hey, you gotta respect that they kept the story simple and streamlined. For a film with this zen a title, you usually expect them to either half-ass it or to lose confidence in their topic and fill it with a ton of unnecessary plot. Not here — its crazy, but its elegantly simple.

  15. Nabroleon Dynamite

    July 9th, 2011 at 6:34 am

    Excellent review Vern!! Haven’t seen this yet, but really plan on it. Your review is the only review that I’ve read that goes into the reality of homelessness. Very much needed analysis.

    Guess I’ll dip thru hastings this afternoon for a rental.

  16. I think Hobo With a Shotgun is a great movie featuring an Oscar Caliber (yeah I said it) performance from Rutger Hauer. It’s also the best “retro-grindhouse” movie than any of them that have come out other than Black Dynamite. Hey, not a deep critique of the film but sometimes less is more. Vern is wrong this time.

  17. Grim Grinning Chris

    July 9th, 2011 at 7:42 am

    Can we have a sequel where shotgun justice is brought down on gutter punks? Like a real homeless dude just fucking up the shit of a bunch of shitty fake-homeless shit bags with hundreds, if not thousands of dollars worth of tattoo work and piercing jewelry sticking out of every pore of their body as they beg you for change and then curse and threaten you when you decline.
    “Sorry Cookie-Crunch (they all have stupid nicknames)… but I’m going to have to take that Discharge t-shirt, liberate your poor fucking dog… and then I’m going to have to kill you!”

    A real Robin Hood… robbing from the inexcusably poor who have simply made a “hip” lifestyle choice… and giving to the poor-er who truly have no other way.

  18. I still think this needs to be seen in a theatre to be really appreciated but I think Mr. Subtlety has best put into words the awesomeness of HOBO.

    Vern, I was also surprised at your reaction but I really dug your commitment to expressing yourself. You could have easily suppressed your personal take in favor of a straight movie review but that would not have been the Vern we have come to know and love.

    I respectfully disagree with your assessment of the film but then I don’t see nearly as many homeless people as you do on a daily basis.

    One of the tenants of good storytelling is the willingness to tear down your main character/hero to his lowest ebb and then watch him rebuild himself into a stronger version. HOBO simply starts the movie with it’s hero already at his lowest ebb and watches as he claws his way back.

  19. I do food delivery most weeks to areas where people who are less fortunate gather. It’s a peculiar combination of people. Some are poor grad students from India or Russia who want a free meal, others are recently unemployed, we have a few people who wear business clothes who are trying to make ends meet, we have a lot of recent immigrants, the occasional woman who is clearly a prostitute, and a lot of mentally ill.

    I have had to stop a lot of fights. The last time some guy got really high and mighty about how the women should be served first and ended up picking a fight with a drunk guy from Somalia. That turned ugly really fast and I got pretty beat up keeping them apart.

    I don’t know, I have a lot of love for these people. Some are on hard times but a lot of the people I interact on a weekly basis have very clear problems and there’s no way they can “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” that will ever work.

    I also remember spending various weeks and months of my childhood living in a car before my mother married my step father.

    So, yeah, I guess I’m really sensitive to exploitation of the homeless and mentally ill. This looked like a 2 minute premise that was likely to be very mean spirited to make it last 90 minutes.

    I’m with you, MDM. I think a lot of those cheesy or memorable moments from older movies came about organically. Forcing those mistakes or unintentionally funny moments just defeats the purpose.

    Had Vern come out and said this was a great movie or enjoyable I would likely go out of my way to watch it. Instead it sounds as forced and mean spirited as I was afraid it would be.

    Maybe next time we can get a movie depicting the heroic homeless and proletariat attacking Wall Street and feasting on the flesh of the bankers and hedge fund managers?

  20. Sternshein — I also thought Hauer was pretty phenomenal in this. It’s a hard job to not make a joke out of this character; you have to keep him believably pathetic enough that we believe his life as come to this, but also fierce and charismatic enough that we understand him and root for him. Hauer makes this look so easy you almost dont even notice. His “Hobo with a shotgun” monologue would be most actor’s excuse to do a big hammy parody scene, but Hauer sells it with such fierce intensity and just a hint of buried pain that I defy anyone to laugh. People applauded in the theater I saw it with at the “Hobo” line, but they weren’t laughing. They were genuinely roused by both the sincerity and the audacity. That, to me, is the heart of the film and why I think its so genuinely special.

  21. Casey, since you’re in the DC area were you by any chance delivery food at Virginia Square /GMU? I used to hang out with some of the folks down there when I was in the area. I’m pretty destitute myself financially, but to some of these folks (especially the ones who are down on their luck but not mentall ill) I always thought at least I could engage them in conversation and make em feel a little like human beings again (especially since some of them had some crazy stories to tell). The most heartbreaking thing about watching people interact with the homeless is not watching them fail to spare even a little coin for someone who obviously needs it, but rather watching them resolutely avoid acknowledging them, ignoring them to the point where they won’t even look them in the eyes. That shit does something to your soul. I’ve never been entirely homeless (I’ve always at least had a car to sleep in or a friend to crash with) but I’ve been in enough scrapes to know how hard it is to ask for help. To do that and then be not just rejected but completely ignored… thats hard to live with.

    But, I don’t at all agree with Vern that this film treats homelessness as a joke. Actually, I think its one of the few films that treats a homeless character somewhat realistically but still with respect and empathy, rather than just sympathy. He’s human first, homeless second, and shotgun-raging genre hero third. There’s even a big climactic speech by the heroine about how people should have more respect for homeless people which is treated very seriously. What more do you want from a crazy perverse transgressive genre film?

  22. I have done delivery down in Arlington towards Columbia Pike on occasion. The group I do it with sometimes needs people to sub in for other teams, but generally I have a semi weekly route in Fairfax. Our usual route is off of 29 in Fairfax at the Anchorage Inn, the Breezeway, and then towards the Home Depot. I have also done food delivery through Hillel during Thanksgiving but that is usually in SE.

    Last year for Thanksgiving we ended up running out of food in SE and I had to make a trip to the super market, which was across the river in MD since many parts of our nation’s capital don’t have access to a grocery store, to get some rotisserie chickens and other hot foods that were suitable for Thanksgiving. Sadly, we have run out of food in our regular deliveries quite a few times recently and usually we just hit up the McDonalds or somewhere and just get a bunch of burgers. Five years ago we would deliver about 150 meals a trip and we are up to 380 or so now and we are unable to do lots of the little things we had done in the past like give out baby wipes or diapers because we have fewer resources at hand and more people that need them.

    I agree about making people feel human. One of the things I always try to do is call everyone sir or ma’am and make them feel like a customer as we deliver hot meals out of the van. The woman I usually deliver with isn’t as gracious. She’s a nice lady but is kind of callous and comes from a certain amount of privilege so I don’t think she totally understands.

    I do get to talk with some people and have known a few for years now. Mr Gary is really interesting and has a lot of really great stories to tell about working in a lumber mill. He lost one hand and most of the fingers on the other but he still manages to be upbeat about life. I know I would be angry my entire life if I had been maimed at work and then left destitute. There’s one gentleman who I can never remember the name to but everyone knows him as the guy with white pants. He’s an elderly guy from Azerbaijan, I think that’s what he told me one time a few years ago, and he gets into fights all the time and always tries to convince us that the people who delivered food the previous week (and we were them) gave him a calling card and we should do the same. It’s almost become a game at this point since he remembers what we wore the previous week and he will ask what shirt I wore last Monday and if it’s not the same color of the guy who delivered food than it couldn’t be me. Mostly, I just can’t remember what I wear day to day.

    Mr Subtlety, I trust your impression and will have to give this movie a try. My biggest fear was that it would be exploitative and mean spirited and I did not want to give money to something that did that. Since you say otherwise I will have to give it a try!

  23. I hadn’t really thought about the fact that this movie was probably made for much less then the movies it’s trying duplicate from the 80’s. I was disappointed with it because I was expecting something along the line of Class of 1984. Instead I got a movie with no rhythm. It seems like they tried to duplicate the style of the early 80’s exploitation flicks but it seems more like a cheap imitation. I think the filmmakers thought that the look of the movie would cause the audience to laugh at it’s cheesiness. My guess is they have no love for a movie like Class Of 1984 and had no idea how to make a really good exploitation flick. This was a disappointment to me like Machete. It seems that Quentin Tarantino is the only filmmaker who understands what made those 80’s exploitation movies so good despise the ludicrous story-lines.

  24. Vern Tell’s It Like It Is over here.

  25. one guy from andromeda

    July 9th, 2011 at 9:33 am

    I was in California in the beginning of this year, travelling up and down the coast, and i was appaled at what’s going on there. Even in small 20.000 people towns there’s deranged homeless people sifting through the garbage, not to mention cities like LA where there’s people sleeping under every bridge. It’s puzzling to me how a society can let this go on.

  26. Casey — I should say that this is in no way a humanitarian movie. But I was definitely surpised to hear that people found it mean and exploitive. I mean, yes, its an exploitation film with all that that implies. It’s intentionally shocking and transgressive, for instance in a montage where the villains murder a bunch of street people in unusual ways. There’s a certain dirty kick to get out of that just like any exploitation film worth its stripes would get. But the key differentiation is that the film is absolutely against the guys doing it. It gets us wound up through that kind of sadism to get us salivating for this one homeless guy to take the power back for everyone. I mean, you can argue that’s mean or antisocial, but it literally is the basis for all exploitation films and I’m confused as to why this one gets so much anger. I’m wondering if maybe it’s been long enough that most casual filmgoers simply haven’t seen an actual exploitation film in a really long time.

    The thing is full of nasty people doing shocking things. But I really felt like there’s a dirty, bruised heart underneath all the crazy sadism and imaginative perversity. In a way, I feel its a humanizing factor just to have an exploitation movie that treats the character with dignity but isn’t such a sad-sack PC slobberfest that it refuses to have any fun with the concept. Treating people with dignity doesn’t mean bringing out the kiddy gloves, it means affording them the same complexity you would with any character. Actually I get way more offended by magic hobos full of whimsy and wisdom than I do about a film willing to play a little rougher while still being fair.

  27. Good points as always Vern. I felt the same way when I saw the trailer and people talking about this movie, yet never thinking that it was kind of making fun of the disadvantaged and mentally ill. Like you said, it is a little to on the nose about how funny it is that he’s a hobo, and it’s disappointing to find out that it’s not a part of the plot, or that he doesn’t have some story about how the homeless can rise up and contribute or anything like that.

    And I worked in Seattle for a time too, and yeah, there are homeless people everywhere there. It was really sad at first, and then you become numb to it, and then you realize you are numb to it and feel even worse. I had to stop carrying cash while I was there just to avoid having to lie. So, I understand your points, they were well stated, and I appreciate you having an opinion beyond just “ooh, boy, hobo and shotguns, sounds fun.”

    Thanks for the entertainment, and some social commentary.

  28. Didn’t get to catch it in theaters. I will have to rent this ASAP.

  29. One thing I have noticed over the past couple of years is that more and more popular films are starting to actually address the issue of poverty. There have been several Oscar nominated movies, like Winter’s Bone, Precious, and Slumdog Millionaire, who are interested in depicting how people live on the outer edges of society. I may not agree with the approach every one of the preceding films take, but I appreciate the fact that they recognize that the poor also have stories that are worth telling (all three of those films are also well crafted narratives). I hope that this trend continues.

  30. Yeah, I’m going to go to bat for this movie. I loved it, mostly because of the Troma feel (It would make a great double feature with Surf Nazis Must Die) but also because Hauer committed 100% and didn’t seem like he was in on the joke. I also liked the villain’s plan to get the Hobo by turning the citizens on him and offering a reward for his head. Their eventual siding with the Hobo and deciding not to become criminials themselves was extremely well done. In fact, that whole section of the movie was reminiscent of the Gotham City Ferry scene from The Dark Knight. And I concur, the ending was note perfect.

    Also, by far my favorite parts of the movie revolved around The Plague. Those guys deserve their own spin-off. Plus, this flick features a cameo by that octopus from the Watchmen comic that they forgot to put in the Watchmen movie, so that was cool.

  31. I used to work security at a shopping center and part of my job was kicking out homeless people. As a Christian, I was conflicted about such work. At first, I tried to ignore them as long as they didn’t bother anyone, but they became more and more abrasive, harassing people at restaurants, drinking 40s and shouting by the movie theater, etc. The last straw was when I found a turd covered with a handful of sand (I guess it’s unfair to blame that on a homeless person. Could have been a giant cat).

    When I found out my town was closing down the local homeless shelter, me and a handful of friends from my Bible study would go protest, and oftentimes stay at the shelter and bring food, blankets, etc. It was always awkward when I would run into a homeless person I’d just kicked out a day before. I had a lot of guilt about my line of work.

    Anyway, I liked this film a lot more than MACHETE (which, besides Seagal’s death scene, was just awful) but I agree with everything else you say in the review. Taking it just a little more serious would have gone a long way.

  32. this is what I love about you Vern – in the middle of a review about a cheap, revenge movie rip off you deliver a treatise about the need to treat homeless people with dignity and respect. I’m with you 100% of the way and this is why you remain the best film reviewer in the whole world. None of the other guys can touch you.

  33. Sometimes I gotta write the review and then read the comments before I figure out what I actually should’ve written in the review. I think Gingersoll’s post especially made me realize what made the movie not work for me: the main villain is just a crime lord, and not someone who has a specific connection to the problems of homeless people, let alone a personal connection to the Hobo (who just gets involved after watching shit go down, not to avenge anything that happened to him).

    That wouldn’t be a problem if I saw the Hobo as a real character like Subtlety did, but to me he’s just a lightly sketched cartoon. He has little or no backstory, which could be fine and I’m sure is an intentional choice in the tradition of westerns and what not. But to me he doesn’t seem like he actually has a life before this movie, there are no implications of interesting things that have happened to him, I didn’t spend that much time wondering how he became homeless or what he did before. I wish I could take the monologue seriously like Subtlety did, but to me that seemed like one of the parts that was supposed to be funny and took me out of my attempts to enjoy it as a respectful if cartoonish story about this character.

    I wouldn’t describe the movie as mean-spirited and I don’t think they intend to make a joke out of homelessness, but I don’t see the dignity and respect that Subtlety sees. One of the very few attempts at a human touch is that he dreams of buying a shitty lawnmower and using it to “start a mowing business.” Not landscaping, “mowing.” I don’t see that as giving him dignity. It’s like if he dreamed of buying a pitcher to start a lemonade stand or a bicycle to start a paper route. He could be trying to get work at a construction site or as a fry cook or something, but that wouldn’t be a joke. It could even be something wacky like he wants to start a dog grooming business or a scooter rental kiosk, but instead they chose something demeaning that kids do for money. Or the retarded guy that turns into a computer program or whatever it was in LAWNMOWER MAN.

    And I realize now that I could still get behind it if it just put its fake heart in the right place by having the aspiring lawn-mower achieve a victory against The Man instead of just a random criminal guy. One thing I like even in the silliest blaxploitation or action movies is the simplistic battle between the downtrodden and the rich and powerful. Like, Billy Jack is supposed to be half-Indian and he runs an alternative school, so he’s usually taking on bigots and uptight people who hate hippies. MACHETE did that part right for me. It’s all themed around the plight of illegals, so even though Seagal is a criminal from his cop past most of the movie is about immigrant workers standing up against exploitative politicians and racist border vigilantes and shit.

    I would like HOBO better if, like Gingersoll said, the main villain was the Bum Fights guy, or somebody who otherwise exploits the homeless or contributes to the problem of homelessness. Then it would have a Sticking It To The Man aspect along with the It’s Funny When A Guy Shoots A Bunch of Other Guys. Maybe that’s the obvious thing to do, maybe it’s even a cliche, but without it it just seems like a story told by rolling dice or pulling words out of a hat. It might as well be FARMER WITH NUNCHAKAS or FLAPPER WITH A BROADSWORD or PROSPECTOR WITH A WEEDWACKER ’cause it wouldn’t make much difference.

    I also wanted to mention that this movie reminded me of the non-Troma movie STREET TRASH, but I don’t really remember what that movie’s even about, it was just a general impression. Also I went to a Lloyd Kaufman thing one time and he went on and on about how much he hated STREET TRASH because it was a rip off of his movies. I wonder if he’s commented on HOBO?

    And I should’ve said in the review that I did like the gal playing the hooker, she had kind of a nice girl next door charm but wasn’t entirely unbelievable as a prostitute like they sometimes are in movies. Didn’t seem like a real prostitute, but didn’t seem completely ridiculous.

  34. Knox Harrington

    July 9th, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    I’m gonna have to watch this again to see if I can see things from your perspective, Vern. I honestly don’t remember a lot of irony in this film. I actually think they played it pretty straight, unlike something like Planet Terror, a movie that gave me the impression that Rodriguez seems to think John Carpenter movies are “so bad their good”, instead of the great films that they really are (I’m sure Rodriguez doesn’t really think that, though. He’s smart enough to know a good movie when he sees one and he’s probably a genuine fan).

    I liked Machete a lot more (to me it’s the film that Planet Terror should have been), but it was still very jokey, what with all the crazy action and that big-ass machete and Lindsay Lohan as a nun and all the girls wanting to sleep with Trejo. So in that regard I respect Hobo so much more (also, no cheap looking CGI or green screen in sight).

    Gotta say, I’m struggling to understand how you can see the lawnmower thing as demeaning or condescending. What wrong with a guy who has nothing trying to buy a simple tool that will allow him to create his own work? I suppose he could buy a hammer and some screwdrivers to find work on a construction site, but they don’t hand out jobs to inexperienced old men on construction sites, from what I’ve seen. And also then he wouldn’t be working for himself, which seemed to be his dream.

    I saw the lawnmower thing as a way of showing us just how humble this poor man’s dreams are. The average guy who wants to make something of himself has to start small. A homeless guy like him has to start even smaller.

    P.s. Strange how few people mentioned The Plague. I loved those crazy motherfuckers. Hanging people with arrows shot into the ceiling? Who does shit like that?

    Also, that song at the end is catchy as hell.

  35. Knox Harrington

    July 9th, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    I meant “so bad THEY’RE good.”

    Hate it when people mix up “they’re” and “their.’

  36. Yeah, I’m completely with Knox that the lawnmower thing is a symbol of the humble aspirations he has to start rebuilding his life. I think it says that he knows he fucked up bad somewhere and is willing to start back at the bottom to begin rebuilding. It would be less inspiring for me if he were trying to jump back into a better job.

    I do see the impersonal connection between Drake and Hobo as weakening the story slightly, but I also look at the film as fundamentally about wasted potential more than hobo-ness specifically. I think it sees Hobo and Hooker in the same boat, and what motivates Hobo to go on his vigilante spree is the fact that he sees Drake creating a world which is preventing the one fundamentally decent person he meets from having a constructive, positive life. He does all this so he can help her (and people like her) become the best possible versions of themselves, something that he himself missed somewhere along the way, obviously (and begins the movie trying to reclaim). So in that sense, I think the connection is philosophical.

    Maybe I watched it in a generous mood, I don’t know. But it seems to me there are a lot of little touches which suggest that the filmmakers take their central character and his world seriously.

  37. I actually kinda thought the connections between Drake and Hobo were subtle but present. Particularly in how Drake walks around in this small town flaunting his obscene wealth, with the many public displays of violence meant to entertain the on-lookers. Isn’t that scene when they murder the newscaster prompted by them saying something about giving the people what they want? Even the cops have been bought in this small town. And what’s the most populated place in this town? Probably that totem of wasteful spending, the arcade.

    I think they were trying to draw connections between Drake’s “opiate for the masses” attitude (and, to a lesser extent, the bumfights guy) as a way to establish how people bury their heads in the sand in favor of cheap entertainment while ignoring the real issues, leading to society eventually ignoring someone like Rutger (and the prostitute character, who endures daily humiliation from that cop). The way this connection mixes with the lionization of Rutger Hauer in the film (he likely goes on to become Hobo Legend), it does end up giving audience-goers a pretty humanist, favorable view of the homeless.

  38. It seems Hobo with a Shotgun has become a real polarizing movie, so I’ll take that as a sign of its impact.

    I love and adore this movie unconditionally. I get the Troma comparison because of the outrageous tone but I think it is much more clever. I love The Toxic Avenger but I don’t think he ever had a line as good as “I’m going to wash this blood off with your blood.” The sincereity of the Hauer speech (which I believe he improvised), and the “You can’t solve every problem with a shotgun.” “It’s all I know.” dialogue speaks to more going on than just exploitation. But they did the exploitation real good.

    I’ll have to respect that the movie rubbed you the wrong way, but I think the lawnmower aspect is legitimate. He’d have no real prospects of being a landscaper. Part time practical work cutting grass is almost like the immigrant dream. I’ll start as a dishwasher and save up (although the hobo is near the end of his life so probably isn’t thinking any further ahead.)

    Also, what Mr. Subtlety said.

  39. To the Troma virgins or haters I would recommend “Tromeo & Juliet”. Too many priceless moments to mention.

  40. For serious treatment of the homeless it’s best to avoid Street Trash although you should revisit it. For me it’s a lot better than Hobo which I enjoyed to a point. Great review Vern. I live in Phoenix right now and work overnight so I see homeless people constantly. Sometimes they stop just short of asking for your bank account number but others would just like a couple bucks to ride the train. I mostly help them.

  41. Grim Grinning Chris

    I started shopping at thrift stores because it was a fun thing to do with my girlfriend. These days they’re all I can afford…does that mean I deserve death? Or just maiming? Because even if I had money, I’d still shop at thrift stores. I like clothing that feels like it has a story to it. I like the hunt or them. I like that I found a vintage pair of Docs that are as old as I am for 35 bucks.

  42. Jareth Cutestory

    July 9th, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    This recent trend of recreating old genre films has been a real conundrum for me. There are elements I like in all the films, like the perfect tone and technique in RUN BITCH RUN or the gleefully idiotic humor in NORWEGIAN NINJA, but at the same time there are glaring areas in each film that are deeply unsatisfying.

    RUN BITCH RUN, for example, gets the look and performances almost perfect, but it’s in the service of a tedious story that’s been told a hundred times in this exact manner already. MACHETE achieves a relevant and rousing political message, but, as a film, it wobbles along with embarrassingly uneven performances and very poor pacing and structure. HOBO has a lead performance that is exceptional, yet I’m still unsure if the film itself is anything more than an AUSTIN POWERS type parody dressed up in an auteur’s clothes. And I don’t even want to know what the fuck they were trying to do with BITCH SLAP.

    Ultimately, I think what’s bothering me most is that none of these films are evidence of a renaissance of exploitation films; they’re just semantic markers indicating the hipness that is placed on exploitation cinema. None of the filmatists have been able to tell me what it is that makes the source material compelling to them, and none of them have engaged with the themes and visual styles of exploitation cinema except to mimic them.

    Shouldn’t a film made in 2011 that mimics THRILLER and I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE have something to say about how commonplace and even boring rape/revenge films have become? Shouldn’t the guys who made BLACK DYNAMITE have something to say about a culture that can’t seem to be bothered to construct an idea of African-American heroism that doesn’t employ Blaxploitation tropes?

    But maybe it’s expecting too much for MACGRUBER to have something to say about cinema and the world.

  43. Macgruber is awesome.

  44. Shotguns are bad & naughty; they have a tendency to kill people, as well as woodland critters, and STUFF.
    Hobos… not so much so; they just smell stinky & inordinatedly beg for money, or beg for things that COST money (food, beer, rent). Just once I’d like to see a haggard, smelly homeless person with a cardboard sign that read “Need $5 for resolution of my childhood trauma”.

    I ran into one two days ago (hobo, not a shotgun… and sans shotgun) and he was pleading for “43 cents”. Which kinda perked up my interest in exactitude (but not in a good way). I approached him to within 5 feet (never closer, lest the smell or the desperate timbre of their voice sway you in either direction), and asked him “Why 43 cents? Why such an arbitrary number? What makes you think I have exact change?”.

    Of course he got all snooty (in the way that people with a great deal of money or no money at all get when you engage them in conversation ABOUT money), and yelped “I NEED IT, DAMMIT!”. I didn’t reply, but merely gave him my best Eastwood Spaghetti Western Era Stinkeye Glance, and he went away, mumbling some frustrated nonsense.

    Homeless people are funny. Not “ha-ha” funny or “queer” funny, but rather “disenfranchised performance art” funny.

  45. I love exploitation, even some of the really bad ones, but I mainly love the “genre” because of its classics, and the lost and forgotten gems.

    I don`t get the point in recreating old exploitation-movies, if you think that they`re so bad that they are funny. If you`re into old exploitation, it`s properly because of your love of classics like Carnival of Souls, Straight-jacket, Night of The Living Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Coffy, Zombie Flesh Eaters, Cannibal Holocoust, Faster Pussycat Kill Kill and Shogun Assassin. Or you`re into the obscure and weird transgressive shit like Thriller, Thundercrack!, Possession and Beyond The Darkness.

    Makers of crap like Bitch Slap, Nude Nuns with Guns and Run!Bitch Run! appearently thinks that people like exploitation because of its bad dialoge and inept direction. Wrong, suckers!! Fans of exploitation like these movies because they are good; products by a time and place where a lot of talented directors had their break, were inspired by low budgets to be creative and with the freedom to experiment. It was the playground of directors like Roman Polanski, Sergio Leone, Martin Scorsesse, Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma, Wes Craven, David Cronenberg and George Miller. It produced auteurs like Russ Meyer, Jack Hill, George A Romero, Sergio Martinez and Radley Metzger. And stars like Bruce Lee, Clint Eastwood and Pam Grier.

    A lot of those new “exploitation”-directors are claiming to pay homage to exploitation. They`re not. They are just making exploitation. They are like rockbands who want to make classic rock, but have never heard of Jimi Hendrix.

    They basically watched Faster Pussycat Kill Kill and noticed the BIG TITS!!!, but overlooked the great dialogue, subversive sexuel politics, dynamic cinematography, transgressive satire and brilliant editing. End of rant.

  46. I wanted to like this film a lot more than I did, though I can’t fault Hauer’s dedication to his performance. However, it seemed like he was in a different film. He was giving it serious focus whereas his enemies were goons in sunglasses (Vern, I thought they were referencing American psycho as much as Risky Business. One of them even has the same ‘Watch the face!’ line when he gets punched.)

    Still holding out for Cage as Fu Manchu in the SS Werewolf movie. THIS IS MY MECCA!! AHAHAHAHAHA!

  47. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    July 10th, 2011 at 9:44 am

    FARMER WITH NUNCHAKAS. Now that sounds like a movie I’d watch.

  48. No love for The Plague? I’d love to see a movie just about those two guys (and their giant squid-thing pet).

  49. If you’re looking for a good hobo movie as well as a further example of Badass Cinema I’d suggest ‘Emperor of the North’ with Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine. It’s on Netflix streaming.

  50. I thought it was OK for a film made by fan-boys… they certainly know more about basic film making than Adam Green. But the whole spirit of the thing seems wrong to me. For example, the scene in the pawn shop where they keep showing a gun pointed at the head of a toddler in a stroller… you can tell the filmmakers thought they were being so transgressive and extreme, but you know they’re just nerds who somehow talked their way into getting funds for an “calling card” indie film. Who the fuck puts a J&B Whiskey joke in their movie in 2011 anyway?

    I actually hope the downward swing in genre film making continues so some of the lesser talents are weeded out (or making shitty Hollywood films) and someone who actually has some sort of vision or new idea can come up and not get lost in all the bullshit.

    And yes, EMPEROR OF THE NORTH kills.

  51. I would like to say that to me, this particular film felt a little different than the other exploitation parodies, even BLACK DYNAMITE. Those ones all existed as homages to a genre of films which isn’t really around anymore, and paid (mostly) affectionate tribute to the shortcomings of those films as well as their ballsy out-there-ness. But they pretty much all exist as a meta-joke. In BLACK DYNAMITE’s case, that joke is really well told and really funny. In MACHETE’s case it’s poorly told but at least intermittently badass. The GRINDHOUSES both have enjoyable aspects but they tend to be the strengths of the directors more than the exploitation commentary which is chuckle-worthy at best and in fact kind of defuses a lot of the things about those films which would otherwise have been great.

    But I really, truly believe that HOBO actually just IS an Reagan-era schlock exploitation film which just came around 20 years later. Yes, its conscious of the films its imitating, but the difference is I don’t think this story could really have been told any differently. It had the same (and maybe even less) budget than a lot of those old ones, and the same fierce commitment to creating a shocking, feverish nightmare. This one would not have worked at all if you’d set it in any other era, or in any other style. So yes, the Drake Bros are outrageously over the top, but I maintain it’s not to imitate the style of old over-the-top movies — its because they NEED to be completely outrageous for this nightmare exaggerated reality to work and to actually shock people.

    I maintain you could put this up next to many of the crazier films of the era and not be able to pick out which one was a parody (as said in my review, watch this with our boy Albert Pyun’s RADIOACTIVE DREAMS or REVENGE OF THE NINJA or CLASS OF NUKE ‘EM HIGH and try to tell me which of the four was actually made in 2010. If anything, the three actual 80s movies probably look more like cheap-shot parodies of the time period. It was a ridiculous time.) Given that it was produced under the same conditions and strives for the same things, I consider this more of a continuation of that line of art rather than a postmodern commentary on it. It’s like how THE BANK JOB consciously immitates the look and feel of gritty 70s films because it suits its gritty 70s content much better than if it looked slick and modern. No one tried to claim that one was just an in-joke, they accepted that it was a suitable style to try to tell that story with. This one is the same thing, its just that the style itself was already inherently ridiculous and bordering on parody.

    And yes, people who gratuitously throw around the word G-House forget that many of these movies were more than cheesy schlock-fests. But you know what, a lot of them WERE cheesy schlock-fests but were still awesome because of their dedication to being creatively insane. It takes a surprising amount of imagination to create a film as fucking nuts as HOBO, and I strenuously argue that Eisener and crew put more effort into making HOBO something really unique and crazy than any of the other attempts to revive this genre. And crucially, I think they did that not to poke fun at the genre, but because movies this crazy are memorable and awesome. It’s not a gimmick. Its just the kind of movie that they like. And setting it in an 80s-schlock framework just feels so perfectly right for that particular kind of insanity.

    So ask yourself this: if this weren’t a film from 2010, if it were an actual overlooked product of that time that you happened to stumble upon, would you call it a shallow and mean knock-off, or would you think you’d fucking struck gold. There’s so much awesome (and it should be noted, stunningly executed) craziness in here, I refuse to believe anyone here would shrug it off. You’d be on here posting about your discovery before you’d made it halfway through the film, and we’d all be rightfully excited about it. I defy anyone to tell me the sequence with the Plague in the hospital is not as genuinely awesome, creative, tense, and imaginative a sequence as has been put to lense in the past year.

    If you can get over your suspicions that this is just some cutesy parody by some hipster kids who are too young to even fucking remember the real deal, I think its obvious greatness is too overwhelming to ignore. I realize having it made as part of that whole G-House debacle makes it hard to separate it from that whole irritating trend, but if you can (and I think its quite legitimate to do so) the pleasures are undeniable. Rarely do I so strenuously defend a film, but I think this one is really worth it. Give it a chance to blow you away.

    (I’m not gonna be an asshole and post a link, but you can click on my name to go to my review blog and see my whole review if you’re so inclined. Be warned: Jareth says clicking away from Vern’s dive-bar color scheme into my black-on-white background can be hard on the eyes, so stare into the sun for a minute before you click).

  52. There’s a J&B joke? Well now I’m sold.

  53. I can’t let all this MACHETE-bashing & MACHETE-dismissal pass unchallenged. I’ve reached my limit. It’s superior to HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, in my opinion, and I say this despite the fact that I am *not* a fan of most of Robert Rodriguez’s work. But anyway, I don’t feel like repeating my defense of that movie.

    **I defy anyone to tell me the sequence with the Plague in the hospital is not as genuinely awesome, creative, tense, and imaginative a sequence as has been put to lense in the past year. **

    Mr. Subtlety, I had similar thoughts about scenes in MACHETE. I guess MACHETE’s starry cast detracts from some of y’all’s enjoyment, but I maintain it was among the best movies of 2010. I wanted to watch it 5 times in the theatre. With HOBO, once was enough.

    HOBO does have a supremely awesome trailer, though, with the monologue addressed to the babies voicing over the moody montage of sicko violence. I could watch that a few dozen more times.

  54. Nabroleon Dynamite

    July 10th, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Ok, I watched the first 20mins of this last night. (Thanks to my boo getting frisky on me :•P) and finished it like just now.

    I agree with Mr. Subtlety on this one!! The shit was a pretty decent Troma rip off with some great gore, and some killer lines!! I didn’t feel any disrespect to the homeless in general either.

    Vern didn’t feel the shit, I ain’t mad at’em either!! It wasn’t no great shit by any stretch, so it’s all gravy baby!!

    I can keep it til’ the 16th, but I’ll probably watch it with the commentary on and then take it back to get my early return credit. It’s not that great. Just some ill shit that you’ll basically forget about in a day or two. Glad I peeped it though.

  55. Nabroleon — Your boo got frisky during HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN? Damn man, that’s one special lady!

    Mouth — I don’t mean to hate on MACHETE one bit. I loved it deeply in spite of the typical Rodriguez frustrations. I mean, Trejo alone justifies any amount of love you want to give it, and there’s more than enough craziness to keep you entertained. And I appreciate that it’s much less of a genre joke than the GRINDHOUSE films. It’s still little jokey for my tastes, and Rodriguez’s typical inability to focus lessens the effect somewhat, but I’m glad to live in a world where MACHETE exists. For my money, though, HOBO was what I was hoping MACHETE would be: a lean, focused, blast of hardcore crazy. MACHETE brings the crazy and the hardcore, but has too much fat to really be described as lean and focused (and no, that’s not a Seagal joke).

    But never let it be said that I have anything but love for MACHETE. I watched it twice in the theater and loved it both times. Haven’t seen it on DVD though — anything worthwhile in the special features or deleted scenes I should check out?

  56. I agree 100% with Subtlety, and Mr. Topel. I think this movie kept the wink-wink bullshit to a minimum, out of all the latter day exploitation homages this one feels like the closest we’re going to get to authentic. And that’s saying something, when serious heavy hitters like Tarantino and Rodriguez have already had their crack at this type of thing. I do not understand how anyone could prefer MACHETE to this. Eisener and co. had a motto while making the film, “more blood, more heart”, and that’s totally on display in the finished product to me. It’s the heart that makes this one special, and it’s the heart that made the old exploitation films special. You have to have heart to make a low budget movie work, and I think that’s something Rodriguez et al have lost touch with. MACHETE is made by a guy who’s rich and comfortable, and it shows. Rodriguez is the dude that buys designer jeans with pre-ripped holes in them, Eisener’s just worn his jeans out and can’t afford new ones.

    Now, all of this said, I don’t think it was a perfect movie. I think the script was probably the weakest aspect (although I have not read the script and generally hate when people criticize a “script” after watching the finished movie). I think if they could have used a more experienced writer on the project, if only to spruce up a bit of the dialogue and maybe finesse the story a bit. But that would almost be a betrayal of the film’s influences, because Troma movies certainly aren’t known for their scripts. To me the rough-around-the-edges qualities are a bit endearing. This feels like BAD TASTE, or THE EVIL DEAD… a first feature that does so much with so little that it’s impossible not to get excited about what may be next for the scrappy young man behind the camera.

    I also don’t think the movie was disrespectful to the homeless, and I think Vern is seriously overthinking the use of the word “Hobo”. It just has a better ring to it than any of the alternatives: HOMELESS GUY WITH A SHOTGUN, TRAMP WITH A SHOTGUN, BUM WITH A SHOTGUN, etc. I at least don’t think the director intended to disrespect the homeless. The guy that played the Hobo in the original fake GRINDHOUSE trailer, I think his name is David Brunt, IS actually homeless. He’s not an actor and he apparently has mental health issues, so they couldn’t really consider him as a lead for the feature. Although he does appear in a cameo. I forget where at the moment. Hauer brings such humanity to the role, as well, that the movie only felt exploitative to me in the cinematic sense, which is totally appropriate.

    For anyone that hasn’t seen it, check out Eisener’s short film TREEVENGE.

  57. I just don’t understand how it can be said that HOBO keeps the “wink-wink bullshit to a minimum”. I mean, I think the first real music cue was a rip-off of the CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST theme. As far as that and the J&B Whiskey reference… well that’s was fine in 2005 (I guess), but really, isn’t it time we move on to something new instead of just endless references to past films we all love.

  58. Well, I did say “minimum”, didn’t I? One familiar Whiskey brand and one musical cue we all recognize is not the same thing as, say, SCOTT PILGRIM’s onslaught of pop culture reference. (Is it the CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST theme? I can’t remember. I know Eisener used a version of Riz Ortolani’s distinctive CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST score for TREEVENGE but if it was used in HOBO I’ve forgotten about it)

  59. Do you mean the cue on the train as he’s coming into town?

  60. This is all I could find on the opening music cue:


    Don’t own the movie yet so I can’t just put it on and confirm.

  61. Jareth Cutestory

    July 10th, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Mr. Subtlety: It’s not that I think HOBO or any of these films are parodies or particularly ironic, it’s more a matter that the filmatists have taken it upon themselves to be curators of a tradition rather than contributers to a tradition. I see these films the way I hear musical groups like the Chieftains. Sure, they have nuance and skill and dedication, but they’re still so beholden to the conventions of their genre of music that the whole thing feels trapped in amber. The Pogues, on the other hand, take the same raw materials, marry them to punk and drag the whole mess kicking and screaming into a drunk’s nightmare.

    In short, I guess I’m still waiting for someone to come along and drag exploitation cinema out of the museum.

  62. Mr. S, no, I read that the meager dvd extras on the current not-that-especially-special edition of MACHETE are less than awesome, but supposedly there’s some Jessica Alba sluttiness involved in the deleted scenes. I’m patiently awaiting a more Ultimate style dvd release. You hear that, you stingy studio/dvd distro pricks?

    Concerning HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, it’d be nice if they could find a way to explain the shotgun’s infinite ammo. Thanks, Vern, for noticing that, as for a while it seemed like I was the only one bothered by it. It’s one of those little “wink-wink-ha-ha” things that could either be deliberate incompetence or could be a reference to the ridiculousness of crazy old action/exploitation films, but it’s laziness any which way you put it unless the infinite ammo has some symbolic value or contributes to the narrative.

    Yeah, people are going to notice it, and most of them are gonna react like, oh that’s so crazy where does he get all these bullets oh well that’s how it is that’s just the world this movie inhabits ha, but maybe I want my cake & to eat it too, in terms of being rewarded for paying attention to stuff like that, hoping & groping for a definitive sense of meaning to what the filmmakers obviously thought was a throwaway gag they could keep mostly out of the foreground of the action. (It also annoyed me when the hooker didn’t use all the weaponry she designed & had at her amputated arm’s-disposal at the end. Why show it if you’re not gonna use it?)

    It’s like when I watch a kung fu movie, I can tolerate it, or willingly suspend disbelief, when a bunch of bad guys attack the good guy one by one, which is unrealistic & all, but it serves the greater purpose of allowing the showcasing of filmatistic kung fu awesomeness. And then when, like, Austin Powers makes fun of how henchman always attack one by one, it’s funny because it’s a good observation and I don’t take Austin or Michael Caine as his fazzha to really be a great fighter anyway. The serious kung fu movie tries to skate by without bringing too much attention to the ridiculous stupidity of the one-on-one mentality of the bad guys, or it has the stunt guys & extras in the background doing tae-bo moves or pretending they’re recovering from their last kick to the ribs or whatever, and for me this method usually works so I only notice & enjoy the fighters doing work, kicking ass. The spoof elements of Austin Powers or whatever are obviously being as on the nose as possible while making a funny statement about an element of ridiculousness that usually doesn’t bother me in the serious movies.

    HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN occasionally straddles these approaches unsuccessfully, in my opinion, though I admit the pace & editing of the movie mostly ensures that this is not a problem, that I accept it almost completely and enjoy the thing overall. However, again, the infinite shotty ammo aspect bothers me & strikes me as laziness.

  63. Vern, baby,

    please write a review for The Zookeeper. You know you wanna.

  64. “**I defy anyone to tell me the sequence with the Plague in the hospital is not as genuinely awesome, creative, tense, and imaginative a sequence as has been put to lense in the past year. **”

    That’s what I’m talking about.

  65. Does the incinerator scene from TOY STORY 3 count? The subdue-the-monkey-&-escape sequence? It wasn’t really “put to lens,” I guess, but one of those gets my vote. Or maybe the Robot Rock scene in STEP-UP 3D.

  66. I can vouch for Eisener that he genuinely loves the genre and knows his shit. His favorite movie is The Warriors, which all due respect, does not have as much awesome as the plague, the ice skates, the lawnmower, the manhole covers… You can totally see the influence though in creating an urban fantasy apocalypse.

    Infinite ammo is a staple of action movies. Why of all things should that be explained? Rambo has infinite ammo (even if they show him reload, it’s not for accuracy’s sake.) The Terminator, I’m sure the later Death Wishes, etc. Dirty Harry kept count, I’ll give him that, but I would expect no less than infinte ammo.

    I would like to see a serious discussion of Magruber at some point. I’m guessing it won’t be to Vern’s taste but I think it’s really something special.

  67. @Mouth: To address your previous point about unlimited ammo, I’d attribute that to suspension of disbelief. As I have yet to see “Hobo With A Shotgun” (but will at some point), I can only speculate on your and Vern’s respective gripes.

    To the best of my knowledge (aka, what I was able to obtain courtesy of Google), a pump-action shotgun is capable of holding 6 shells, max. Unless Hauer was carrying a backpack stuffed with spare shells, and had wicked fast hand/eye coordination… then it comes down to suspension of disbelief. It’s not as though he can be engaged in a firefight/melee, run out of ammo, and then tell whoever he’s shooting at “Hold on a sec… I have to reload”. It would fragment any continuity in such a scene, and (I’m guessing here, because I don’t know the total body count) would probably add a good 10-15 minutes to the movie’s running time.

    Interesting that you should mention this, because yesterday I was watching “Raiders Of The Lost Ark” on TV (and damn skippy it holds up well, even after 30 years), and in the scene when Indy reunites with Marion in that bar she owns— when that squirrelly Nazi and a few locals show up looking for the headpiece, in the gunfight that ensues, Indy’s got a six-shooter, and (as near as I could tell) that was ALL the shots he got off; no more. Killing the baddies after he was out was just because of his own improvisation and some help from Marion.

    IMO, the use of a non-automatic weapon in any modern movie should be limited to what I like to call an “emphatic shot”. I.E.:
    “DIPlomatic immunity!”
    “Just been revoked!”.

    I agree with your point (in case that wasn’t clear). It’s an unnecessary distraction.

  68. Yeah, I don’t get why unlimited ammo is such a big deal, unless the movie is attempting a certain level of realism. I don’t think HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN has much realism on its mind. Are we gonna hate on John Woo movies now? The only time his characters reload is when the plot requires them to have their backs to the wall.

  69. @Fred: “Macgruber”? Surely you jest, sir. Vern’s not one to shy away from sinking his articulate claws into a POS movie (his seminal review of “Chaos” at AICN made that mighty clear), but… “Macgruber”? It’s like a fart in the wind that didn’t even have the power to leave a lingering stench.

  70. Knox Harrington

    July 10th, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Darth Macho and Wes, I’m glad you mentioned Emperor of the North (Pole).

    What a classic. Marvin and Borgnine at their very best.

  71. Unrelated to any of the previous comments that have skewed in all sorts of directions, but boy is it great to see Brian Downey in a movie. Loved him as Stanley Tweedle in LEXX, which is just about my favourite TV series of the last 15 years. Sleazy, innovative, and also featuring Rutger Hauer and Dieter Laser at various points. Hauer is at his most-bloated pre-stroke self, but once again plays a nutjob (this time a brain-sucker) with panache.

  72. Fred, your “Macgruber” post vanished! (or am I hallucinating?).

    Hmmmm… time to consult a professional.

  73. Well, he’s more of a cannibal, but he likes brains too.

  74. OK, it’s still there [breathes heavy sigh of relief; resumes sanity].

  75. @Yurgh: No, not “Zookeeper”. It would seem Kevin James has supplanted Rob Schneider in the “durpa-dee-durp” BS formulaic comedy genre (Adam Sandler being the Professor Emeritus of said genre).

    I’d rather read Vern’s take on “Horrible Bosses”, which was funny yet not funny enough, and included the improbable subplot of a dweeby male dental hygienest who worked under dentist Jennifer Aniston, and all she wanted was for him to fuck her senseless, and (yes, he does have a fiancee), yet… he doesn’t tap that ass? WTF?

    Whoever was the casting director for HB should be bitchslapped, frequently & for at least a week, for not casting a homely woman as the the dentist, but instead casting Jennifer FUCKING Aniston! That goes way, way beyond stupid, into the realm of irrevocable mental retardation.

    On a side note: Yes, Jennifer Aniston is a bonafide whiz in rom-coms, and here as well, but…. FUCK! What heterosexual male in his right mind would NOT want to hit that, given the chance?

  76. yeah, with the exception of Grown Ups, when was the last time you saw Rob Schneider in anything? I think maybe European Gigolo, which was like 2004?

  77. Larry, I jest not. Macgruber was outrageous in the “I can’t believe I’m actually seeing this” kind of way, and from a studio movie no less. Love exploring the action formula with a hero who’s just genuinely an asshole. Not a snarky wisecracker, but a desperate, insecure, petty asshole.

    re: Horrible Bosses, I don’t worry about the Aniston thing because I know in real life the oversexed harassing boss does not look like Jennifer Aniston. Don’t need to debate Charlie’s motives, it’s just not real life. Although I was jealous he was engaged to someone who seemed to be a sweetheart.

  78. Griff, Schneider has been directing his own DTV movies. Big Stan was all right. DTV is definitely the place for him though. Perhaps an offshoot of Seagology? Derpology?

  79. Jareth Cutestory

    July 10th, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Kathleen Turner in CALIFORNICATION. Now there’s an over-sexed female boss.

  80. @Fred: Still not quite on the same page as you, bud. “Macgruber” seems to me, not so much one of those “so bad it’s good” misfires, but rather an SNL skit movie adaptation gone horribly wrong (think “Superstar” or “A Night At The Roxbury”).

    @Griff: At this point, I think Nick Swarsdon has usurped Rob Schneider as Adam Sandler’s go-to monkeyboy (not that Schneider’s hurting; do a Google search of “Rob Schneider marriage”, and you’ll see why).

    @Vern: PLEASE do a review of “Stake Land” when it arrives on DVD, then double back and check out (and presumably review as well, please) “Mulberry Street”. Fuckin’ great low-budget horror movies, both of them.

  81. Night At The Roxbury had Richard Grieco playing himself, and he was funny. Not alot of other movies can say that, actually none of them can.

  82. caruso_stalker217

    July 10th, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Nice to see a smidgen of MACGRUBER love here. The first ten or fifteen minutes are pretty much devoid of jokes that work, but it gets a lot better.

    And it has one of the funniest sex scenes ever put on film.

  83. Amazing Larry, I can’t quite tell, have you seen Macgruber? If you have, to each his own, but I’m not clear if you’re talking about the movie or your impressions of the trailer scenes.

  84. Gwai Lo, I enjoy John Woo’s joints mostly *despite* the magically abundantly wasted ammo, and only partly because of it. I can & do overlook many movies’ firearms-related misfires, like the lack of misfires for example. (Wow, I’m so clever.) There’s never a weapons malfunction or dirty ammo or a dirty magazine well unless the plot demands it. I can & do overlook when an American fires 75 5.56mm bullets or when a RAV (Russian, Arab, villain) fires 75 7.62mm bullets from a 30 round magazine. I can & do overlook when there’s no effective recoil as a skinny guy fully straightens his arm & elbow to unload an uzi. I can & do overlook when a movie fails to show the subtle but clear difference between how a beat cop unholsters his/her sidearm (They are trained a 3-4 step process that emphasizes ‘Safety first.’) and how a SF operator or CIAgent draws his/her sidearm (They are trained a 1 step process of ‘Secure, remove safety, lift muzzle, and acquire target all in one motion.’). I can & do overlook how no movie ever shows someone getting burned by the ejected shell casing of his squad mate’s M4 while they clear a hallway. (Fuck, why did I take the right side that time?! First, it burns around your neck & collar, then you do the fireant freakout dance, then the burn subsides around one of your nipples unless you’re wearing a backpack atop your IBA/plate carrier/IOTV.)

    All fans of BADASS CINEMA are forced to overlook many bulletary discrepancies.

    Machine guns, rifles, and pistols are cinematically beautiful and helpful & expedient to the cause of kicking ass on the big screen, and so I’ve learned to ignore when an entire army of bad guys has the accuracy of a cycloptic, retarded cerebral palsy patient high on a crystal meth-NyQuil cocktail.

    However, shotguns present a different challenge for my sensitive eyes. It hurts when a guy pumps a shotty for no reason, or when I know a shell should be ejected. And if the shotgun is a movie’s main attraction, I can’t abide all that. Infinite ammo means we’re witnessing a deus ex machina every damn time someone gets blasted. The weapon & her brandisher demand better filmatistic care than that, and I won’t let the filmatists off the hook for laziness unless they give me a reason.

    Sorry, now continue your discussion about terrible recent comedy movies.

  85. Yes, FRED… I saw “Macgruber”.

    I lived “Macgruber”.

    I sunk my whole GODDAMN TRUST FUND into it, for a fucking useless Executive Producer credit on it, and now I’m penniless, and LIVING IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER!!!


    Just sayin’… there are some threadbare SNL skits that should never, ever be brought to fruition on the big screen. If memory serves me correct, “The Blues Brothers” was the first, and while it had a few amusing moments, witihin the context of today’s more discerning audiences… it blows dog.

    To whit:

    1.) SNL adaptations
    2.) Other TV show adaptations
    3) Remakes/reboots of better movies that preceded them
    4) Sequels beyond the actual sequel (i.e., parts 3, 4, 5, etc.)
    5) Any and all Adam Sandler movies.

    It would behoove Hollywood to declare a moratorium on the five above-mentioned bastions of crap, for at least three years, but I somehow doubt it will happen. It would make moviegoing more of a pleasure, and less of traversing a perpetual minefield.

  86. Mouth — the problem probably lies in the fact that writers, directors and actors are often artsy farts that don’t know much about guns. Don’t they have lines in THE AMERICAN where they refer to bullet speed in KMPH or something? I’m guilty of ignorance myself. Although I recently had the pleasure of playing a SWAT team member in a friend’s movie and firing blanks from an M5, so you all best get ready for some gritty realism in my future scripts. The armorer did specifically instruct me on how to tilt the gun to make sure the casings didn’t hit the actors. Wouldn’t have even thought of that previously, now I have shell burn in my toolkit.

    Anyway it’s not something I really mind in movies, especially when the movie isn’t going for a hard reality approach.

  87. Of course, the main reason you’re supposed to tilt the gun sideways is cuz it looks cool.

  88. Also, I don’t think Machete deserves the amount of disappointment it gets. The action was excellent (I was hooked from the first five minutes. How many films have a one-stroke quadruple decapitation as it’s opener?) and inventive (the hospital escape). Sure, the film got bogged down with the politics of immigration, but at least it was integral to the plot and, as Vern says, it had a personal connection to the main character’s plight. And I liked the way Alba pronounced the name Machete.

    While we’re at it, MacGruber definitely had one of the best sex scenes ever. Laugh out loud funny and worthy of several rewinds.

  89. I didn’t really have a problem with the “infinite ammo,” I just thought it was weird that they did it like it was a stylistic choice and then really late in the game decided to show him reloading. I was more distracted by the idea that he could pull a loaded shotgun off the wall in a pawnshop. See, they obviously aren’t just incompetent and missed that, they knew what they were doing and it’s an example of why I can’t take it as seriously as I wish I could.

    As for MacGruber, I thought it was really funny. Specific examples of things I liked were the monologue about why Val Kilmer hates him (where you realize that MacGruber is a despicable maniac and Kilmer is not really a bad guy), the graphic ghost fucking scene in the cemetery and the part where he (spoiler) kills the villain and pisses off a cliff onto his corpse. I know the SNL thing was a parody of MacGyver but I like how the movie is more based on Chuck Norris movies and Rambo III and shit like that.

    But I don’t usually review comedies because I don’t have much fun trying to convince somebody that something they don’t think is funny actually is funny. I can’t understand where Amazing Larry is coming from at all because I think Blues Brothers is pretty much the perfect comedy and I’m surprised he thinks it doesn’t hold up. That seems like Paul territory there. But how can I convince him that endless car chase is the funniest thing ever? I can’t.

    Since we all agree that Hobo With a Shotgun is only a little bit funny we have more to debate about it.

  90. The action hooked me early, too, Jimbolo, but another aspect of the opening scene deserves more credit.

    If cutting Alba’s so-so twin scenes allowed more time to be given to the naked chick with the hidden cell phone, then it was worth it.

  91. The one thing that kept taking me out of “Machete” was that every attractive girl/woman in the movie was undeniably drawn to him. Reminded me of Al Pacino’s strange animal magnetism in “88 Minutes”. Strange, at best.

    Danny Trejo is, without question, a great character actor. A leading man?— OK, here it’s a given, but elsewhere… no. A pussy magnet? Perhaps in an alternate universe, but not this one.

  92. @Vern: Agreed; yes the car chase in “The Blues Brothers” is possibly the best ever committed to film (“The French Connection” car chase scene is its obvious and perhaps only rival). But the movie ITSELF?— fuckit if it isn’t as flat as one of the 1000 lines of blow Belushi snorted while making it. Landis had ONE unequivocally genius comedy in him, and that was “National Lampoon’s Animal House”. It’s now considered a classic, and justifiably so.

    I respect you more than words can say, Vern, but as far as “The Blues Brothers” goes… I still think it’s dated trash, and a waste of all the talent involved.

  93. Machete is more openly comedic than Hobo though, and him getting all the women is one of the funnier jokes. It’s also an homage to the prowess of not-exactly-Robert-Redford screen greats like Charles Bronson and Rudy Ray Moore.

  94. Believe it or not, Larry, but there was a time when Peter Wyngarde was considered to be sexy as hell (if you don’t remember what he looked like, think Peter Cushing in a Bronson wig).

  95. Nabroleon Dynamite

    July 11th, 2011 at 7:18 am

    Mr. Subtlety. Oxygen channel was showing “The Wedding Planner” on a continuous loop saturday night. I was in the bedroom watching HOBO when said “Boo” entered and locked the door…

    Jenny from da block rom-coms actually have some value!! Who knew?

    Amazing Larry proves that he is not so “Amazing” after all!!

    Blues Brothers Blasphemy Larry!! Blues Brothers Blasphemy!!

    You didn’t mean “Blues Brothers 2000” did you? Cuz that shit sucked duck billed platypus balls!!

  96. Regarding the shotgun reloading — yeah, you’re probably gonna notice that the shotgun was apparently put on the shelf loaded. That does seem a tad too overt to really figure people won’t notice. It’s not exactly a matter of realism, I feel like it’s more just a matter of how far they go out of their way to explain something that can’t really have a realistic explaination. They could come up with some convoluted explanation which would take a lot of time and still not make much sense, or they could just ask us to respect that it doesn’t matter and roll with it. I look at it as an issue of storytelling economy more than laziness (since I just don’t feel like you can accuse a movie this ambitiously wild of being lazy).

    That said, I think they may have miscalculated on that one, because its so overt that it does kind of pull you out of the movie. It definitely dips towards the kind of cutesy homage that the movie usually avoids. I think they would have been wiser to just show him grabbing a handfull of shells and leave it at that (it still would make no sense, but at least you could stop thinking about it). So I’m kinda with you on that one, although its not a deal breaker for me. It mostly only bugged me in the first scene where you’re wondering where he’s gonna get ammo and then they actually subvert the expectation. But then, I’m guessing Mouth uses shotguns a little more frequently than I do, so I can see why you’d be sensetive to that.

    Nabroleon — ah, I was hoping she was overcome with passion during the glass-eating scene or something. Ah well, still works.

    I didn’t even realize there were people who thought the BLUES BROTHERS was anything less than a masterwork of anarchic soul-powered genius. But like Vern says, I guess I got no way to prove it other than just reciting the facts.

  97. Here’s a BLUES BROTHERS re-educational video for Amazing Larry and others who may be drifting dangerously close to Paul territory:


  98. Wabalicious Monkeynuts

    July 11th, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Nice review, Vern, but i disagree with you on this one. Mr. Subtlety, very well put, i didn’t find the film mean-spirited either, i was actually surprised that it didn’t mock the homeless. I thought it looked shit, and i hated the original trailer, but it really surprised me, and ina good way. I didn’t expect any emotion fro it at all, but i was wrong. Fred Topel, as you said, the scene with Hauer leaving the teacher in hospital, pausing by the door as he leaves, saying “It’s all i know”….WOW!! Unexpectedly powerful acting, and reminded me of why i always loved Rutger Hauer so much. He really gives it 100%, and i was so impressed by that. I’ve seen him in some shit films; this, against all my low expectations, was not one of them, instead it reinvigorated my admiration of this amazing actor. For me, this was easily the best of the Grindhouse related films. Planet Terror was just ok, Death Proof and Machete were fucking awful, but i liked Hobo With a Shotgun a lot.

  99. caruso_stalker217

    July 11th, 2011 at 11:26 am

    I find it hard to believe that there is actually a debate about the reloading thing. I didn’t know you guys felt so passionately about this.

  100. How far are you all willing to take this gun thing? My pet peeve: movie/TV characters who hold a gun ALWAYS have their finger resting on the damn trigger, whether they’re pointing it or not. This drives me up a damn wall. But I would not let this interfere with my enjoyment of a ridiculous genre-exploitation action flick.

  101. Larry, I personally appreciate your investment in the Macgruber movie. :)

    Vern, I get where you’re coming from on the comedy issue and glad to hear Macgruber was your thing after all. I would add celery up the ass. I could not believe a movie produced by a studio and showing in a theater had its star, and another A-list supporting actor, stick celery out their butts. And the whole “I’ll suck your dick, I’ll let you fuck me” was a great twist on the moment where the hero has to prove himself to his disapproving seniors.

  102. Oh, and I need to watch Machete again. It lost me but it was also a 10AM screening and I’m not a morning person. It’s been sitting on my stack but haven’t felt like really exploring it again.

    Monkeynuts and Gwai Lo, thanks for the shoutouts. I also think the newspaper headline “Hobo Stops Begging, Demands Change” is pretty brilliant wordplay.

  103. caruso — I think the reloading thing is just symptomatic of the way you read this film. If you interpret the film as a cutesy meta-joke poking fun at tyhe plothole of old exploitation films, it’s gonna probably rub you the wrong way. If you just interpret it as an example of the film’s commitment to trimming the fat and just delivering the good stuff and logic be damned, you’ll probably see it more sympathetically.

    I’ve noticed in general that Vern is particularly sensetive to movies which ironically recreate the tropes of genre films — even SHAUN OF THE DEAD seemed a little too precious and ironically detatched for him. So I think HOBO probably suffers from the same skepticism about people appearing to make an earnest genre film under false pretenses. Viewed in that context, the lack of reloading seems like a cheap dig which allows for lazy filmmaking under the guise of an in-joke.

  104. To be clear, the infinite ammo thing doesn’t ruin any movie for me.

    Watching a movie that disregards ammo considerations feels a bit like conversing with someone who says “irregardless” or “nukular.” You can still be a good, smart person and say those things, and I’ll still respect you, but I’m going to notice and, on some level, I’m going to hold it against you. I’ll see an obvious area where things could improve.

    I don’t mean to make HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN the limit of the battleground for this argument, but at some point fans of BADASS CINEMA who desire improvement in cinematic gunplay have to demand the best.

    Mel Gibson wanted to make the ultimate Jesus movie. Did he settle for a script where everyone speaks some vaguely medieval-accented form of English, like 99% of American/Australian movies set before 1800 AD? Hell no, he went all out Aramaic & Latin on that ass! No compromises. And his movie turned out beautifully, on a technical level one of the most impressive films ever made, in my opinion.

    Does Jackie Chan let stuntmen do the crazy shit and let the camera operators & editors worry about hiding the fact that it’s not Jackie Chan doing the crazy shit? Hell no, he does his own crazy shit, and he lets the camera operators & editors film it & present it from 3-4 different angles sometimes (end of POLICE STORY, plus we see the same kind of filmatism focused on Tony Jaa in ONG BAK.) so we all see it as clearly as possible. No compromises. And he’s the best cinematic martial artist performer ever, in my opinion.

    If we Outlawites bring attention to lazy shortcuts like infinite ammo (which is still going to be acceptable in many movies, as a fair compromise), we might facilitate a move toward paying greater attention to detail and, in turn, an improvement in the overall writing of action films as well. It’s a win-win.

  105. Jon Stewart always says irregardless. And Kiefer Sutherland always said nucular on 24.

  106. Mouth — sometimes, but is it lazy not to explain where Seagal got his aikido skills in every movie? Or is is just cutting past the exposition to the good stuff? I’d argue who gives a fuck why Seagal knows Aikido and who gives a fuck where the shutgun shells come from. It’s totally unrealistic anyway, so why futz around trying to fake some half-assed explaination? I don’t think just explainaing away everything automatically qualifies as striving for excellence. Sometimes, it’s better to not explain and just let us enjoy.

  107. one guy from andromeda

    July 11th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Blues Brothers does have some weak parts (due to aging), but damn if it isn’t still amazing in spite of them. I can understand how people can not like it though. There’s all kinds of weirdos in this world.
    What i hated about Machete was how “funny” it was. I was hoping for a badass movie, but this thing was just so fucking jokey, the worst offender being DeNiro in his worst performance ever probably (and the guy hasn’t been in anything good since Jackie Brown). Just ranting here.

  108. I love the beginning of BLUES BROTHERS (well, I love all of BLUES BROTHERS, but it’s the opening I want to discuss). It’s just so well cut together, giving a real sense of scale (the post-apocalyptic shots of the flame-spewing smokestacks) and intimacy (the shots of everything about Jake except for his face, letting you get to know him piece by piece). I like that a calamitous car crash musical starts in lengthy silence. It’s a serious opening for an unserious movie. The only movie in recent memory I can think of that starts that way is HOSTEL II, and I’m pretty sure that was intentional. I think Roth even used Landis’ font.

  109. caruso_stalker217

    July 11th, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    I also found MACHETE jokey beyond the point of forgiveness. However, the campaign ad for De Niro’s character that incorporated footage of him being shot was hilarious.

  110. And what about Blues Brothers 2000?

  111. I used to be a big fan of Blues Brothers, listened to the soundtrack non-stop and even attended showings in suits and glasses. It was a high-school thing. I rewatched it last month and was really dissapointed, I remembered all the funny bits, and they aren`t that many. Maybe it`s because I watched the directors cut, but the movie just seemed sloppy. Maybe I had really high expectations…

    On the other hand, I just rewatched the four films from Russ Meyers gothic period; Lorna, Mudhoney, Motor Psycho and Faster pussycat… Kill! Kill!
    Wow, they still kick ass, especially when you keep in mind that they were made in 64-65, with a crew of five people, gogo-dancers in the leads and almost no budget. Great acting, cinematography, editing, script and soundtrack (even though I suspect Russ Meyer of stealing a lot of his music from A Streetcar Named Desire). It`s a real shame that everybody knows Russ Meyer, but nobody watches his movies. I think that Motor Psycho has only 9 user reviews on imdb.

  112. If you ask me, the best of those “homage movies” is PIRANHA 3D, just because it wears its heart and influences on its sleeve, but still tries to be a modern movie. The whole entertainment factor of it comes from the fun that Aja has with the concept of an unpretentious Hard R rated Killerfish movie in 3D and not from yelling at the audience: “Hey, isn’t this exactly like the silly movies that you saw on VHS when you were kids?!”

  113. cj holden

    I don`t consider Piranha 3D “one of those homage”- movies, but if it did, I would rank it as one of the best. It actually gets better every time I watch it.
    I do like movies with a 70`s vibe, and especially movies inspired by exploitation-classics. Death Proof, The Devils Rejects, Halloween directors cut, Black Snake Moan, Hostel, Black Dynamite, Manson Family etc are brilliant (imo). But the “homage”-movies, that just thinks that exploitation-movies from the seventies are fun because they`re “bad” (Machete, Run Bithch Run, Bitch Slap etc) really pisses me off. But maybe it`s because I`ve never been into Troma and stuff. I tried to watch Troma-movies, but they`re just bad movies (imo). If I do enjoy a truly terrible `70 movie, like Emanuelle in America or Sweet Sweetback Baadasss Song, it`s because it`s amusing as a history lesson (with hardcore sex and funky music). Even a movie like Faces of Death, which easily can be prescripted “so bad it`s brilliant”, had/has an tremendous impact because it`s really really well put together.

    I would still like somebody to explain the qualities of Run! Bitch Run!. I don`t get it.

  114. Nabroleon Dynamite

    July 12th, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    I’m gonna say this again…

    The Blues Brothers (2000 never happened) is anti-milk carton!!


    Piranha 3D is Aja’s worst movie!!

    Great gore, but the actual film is atrocious!!

    Gianna Michaels TITS RULE though!!
    Gianna Michaels TITS RULE though!!
    Gianna Michaels TITS RULE though!!

    That was NOT a typo!! Repeat x Infinity!!

  115. I can’t believe anyone wouldn’t like The Blues Brothers. It’s got everything including action, comedy, musical numbers, blues legends,cameos, and John Belushi at his peak. It’s also a great time capsule for the Chicago of my youth. Every time I watch The Blues Brothers I get nostalgic for Jewtown polish sausages. Anyone who grew up in Chicago in the 70’s and 80’s knows exactly what I’m talking about. Jewtown was a place to buy all the best bootleg stuff and have a great quick and inexpensive polish with fires. Maybe I’m biased because I remember every place in the Blues Brothers vividly, but it’s easily one of my favorite movies of all time.

  116. Does anyone else actually think showing characters reloading sometimes actually adds to action scenes? Often it creates a little breather moment and have little extra bits in the mdidle of action scenes, like how Van Damme and Vosloo stopping during their fight in HARD TARGET to stand back to back with a wall between them as they reload and have a brief exchange. I also liked how in EQUILIBRIUM, the Clerics’ ammo clips were designed with those little balance things at the bottom so they could be thrown across a room and still stay up right for the guy to slot them in by slamming the guns down. Nice attention to detail that makes sense in for the Gun Kata style. Also, watching guys let empty clips just carelessly fall to the floor is kinda cool. Is that true to life, Mouth? Do you just toss them away, or when the smoke has cleared does someone have to go collect them so they can be reused to save money?

  117. Stu, I’ve never left a mag on a battlefield, but I wouldn’t think twice about dropping an empty one to the ground & forgetting about it if I were busy reacting to enemy fire.  Training always includes keeping your magazine.  The good ones are expensive.  After an operation or during the SSE phase, time permitting, we do a police call to recover all our stuff, and I might instruct a subordinate to collect brass.  We don’t want to leave behind obvious evil imperialist footprints.  

    We time ourselves doing blindfolded mag changes, and if I’m in uniform I usually use my left cargo pocket for temporary storage of empties when I’m hurrying, which isn’t a great idea actually, since the cargo pocket is spacious & unsecure, but usually that is where I also keep my laminated map so that actually makes it a better, tighter fit, like when you pack a box of cereal in the side of a grocery bag so you can stuff other little items in the center of the bag somewhat securely.  Some guys restore empties straight to their little mag pouch on their chest/abdomen/hip or even have a whole separate bigger pouch that looks like a fanny pack, just for empties.  

    Luckily, I’ve never been in the kind of pinch that called for firing more than 28 bullets from my weapon in a very short time, so mag change proficiency has not been necessary in combat in my case (though of course it remains my duty to train the Joes to be proficient at it).  Well, one time I got to do a bunch of quick-changes while I was talking a helicopter team onto a couple of targets.  I used tracers to mark one target (a window that is now rubble), and I always keep at least one mag full of nothing but tracers for this purpose, and on this occasion I had to switch between standard ammo & tracers several times so I could alternate between suppressing the bad guys & putting on a light show to direct the pilots.  

    There are some cool double mag gizmos that allow you to hit the mag well release & move the empty just an inch to the side and slide in a full mag very quickly, but of course walking around with that set-up is heavier & noticeably affects how you can move your weapon around in urban environments & close quarters.  

    If you don’t have one of those double mag clips but anticipate or want a high volume of fire, you can hold a 2nd mag in your hand against the mag that is in the well.  You can line them up, mushed together, or you can make a t-cross with the two mags, which a lot of guys seem to prefer, so that you can remove the empty & insert the full one without ever moving your forward hand away from your weapon to reload.  This can also assist smooth firing, especially in older M4s or weapons that have been in the desert a while without proper maintenance or cleaning, as the choice to hold the mag (with slight upward pressure) instead of holding the heat shield or rail-attached grip should reduce the likelihood of a jam or faulty bullet transition from the mag to the front of the firing pin.  

    It would be refreshing to see a movie finally depict a rifleman doing SPORTS (slap pull observe release tap squeeze) or some remedial action during a misfire.  Movies’ tendency to ignore mag change tactics doesn’t bother me, though.  

  118. I finally saw it last night, and I can see both sides of the argument. I saw all that heart that Subtlety was talking about, but I also saw the snarky half-assery that bothered Vern. I think Rutger Hauer pretty much exists in his own movie, separate from all the Tromatic nonsense that’s going on around him. His movie is a better movie, an old-fashioned exploitation flick with a heart and a message, like something Jonathan Demme would have made in his New World days.

    The problem as I see it is that the director didn’t realize what he was getting when he hired Hauer. He still kept trying to make the goofy pastiche that he had in mind when he made the fake trailer, not getting that he had the potential to make an honest-to-God real movie without any quotation marks around it. In every scene that he allows Hauer to control the tone of, the movie soars. It’s exactly the kind of melancholy badassery I can’t get enough of. All of his little monologues were absolutely riveting. But then when Hauer’s not on camera it’s all gimmicks and gore and “Can you believe they let us get away with this shit?” I’ve never said this before and I can’t see myself saying it again, but this movie was too gory for its own good. The wacky splatstick gags of dudes getting crushed by zambonis were jarring and juvenile and didn’t fit at all the dignity and gravitas of Hauer’s performance. All that shit just seemed phony and forced. They took me out of the movie every time. Somewhere along the way, this director had a decision to make about what kind of movie he was making. In my opinion, he chose poorly.

    Still, in the end I like the movie, and that’s all on Hauer. It’s a great, great performance, and I think he’s as committed to it as Kevin Bacon was in DEATH SENTENCE. The only times I felt it didn’t work were when he had to spout the goofy catchphrases from the original trailer. They just weren’t things that the character would have said; they’re things the director thought it would be funny for the character to say before he had a real actor explain to him who the character actually was. A more mature filmmaker would have left that shit on the cutting room floor.

    Also, I didn’t like the ending. Again, it seemed like a decision the director made ahead of time that didn’t fit the finished movie. He decided early on that it would have one of those sudden “Everybody’s dead, movie’s over” endings that they had in the 70s and 80s, but he never in a million years imagined that people might actually give a shit about the character of the Hobo and Abby (and yes, the actress was very good in the role) and so this self-conscious shocker of an ending with its knowingly incongruent synth ballad might be kind of a letdown. It made the whole movie feel like a joke, like I’d been suckered into taking it seriously.

    That pretty much sums up the whole movie for me: Decisions made ahead of time that didn’t change as the movie evolved. As it stands, it’s a misshapen Brundlefly of a movie, a glorified fan film dragged halfway into legitimacy by the work of a serious artist who refused to phone it in. If only everyone else in the crew had followed his lead, we’d have a modern classic on our hands.

  119. I don’t think Amazing Larry was paying much attention in that bar shootout in Raiders, Indy was clearly using a .45. It stuck out because it’s the only time he used a gun that wasn’t his revolver…unless he grabbed it off a Nazi, which he does several times.

    I also think Vern’s reading of the movie is juuust slightly wrong. In that this is less a low budget version of low budget 80s action movies, and more of a bigger budget version of Troma movies or something like Street Asylum, the dreggiest of the dregs. I mean, it’s a Troma movie starring RUTGER HAUER. It’s the awesome movie Troma never quite pulled off.

  120. Oh, and Indy fires WAY more than six times.

  121. Jareth Cutestory

    July 15th, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Majestyk: Some of the material you described in HOBO seems to me to be a bit of Canada-pandering that is
    indulged in by the filmatists, particularly the ice skates gags.

    The newscaster is played by George Stroumboulopoulos, a self-styled “hip” national media figure who is also a big hocky fan (in his mind he probably thinks he is Henry Rollins – in reality, he’s Canada’s Arsenio Hall); the clothes he wears aren’t a far cry from what some of our CBC newscasters actually wore until quite recently.

    I agree that the film would have been better without this stuff, even though, in principle, I completely support dudes getting crushed by zambonis.

  122. That’s the funny thing. I never in a million years thought I’d be the guy arguing against zamboni-crushing. But context is everything, I guess.

  123. Jareth Cutestory

    July 15th, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Maybe Nolan will come to his senses and include Mr. Freeze in his new Batman movie, clearing the way for all sorts of death-by-zamboni meyhem. And hilarious punchlines [that I’ll leave for better minds than mine to write].

  124. “Icy you’ve fallen into my trap, Batman! There’s snow escape for you now!”

    I’m not sure those are actually any worse than the ones in B&R. Man, that movie is impossible to parody.

  125. Jareth Cutestory

    July 15th, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Batman [with a voice that sounds like an asthmatic sex offender making a prank phone call]: “Your zamboni is really cool.”

    Mr. Freeze [attempting to mow down Batman on his zamboni]: “Have an ice day!”

  126. “Too bad we couldn’t smooth things over.” {zamboni charges toward Commissioner Gordon}

    {Batman subdues 3 bad guys in quick succession and leaves their unconscious bodies in the penalty box.} Batman: “That’ll be 5 minutes, game misconduct.”
    Mr. Freeze: “Nice hat trick. Are you ready to face off against a worthy opponent, now?” {zamboni charges Batman}


    Batman: “You know, when Alfred fixes me a scotch. . .”
    {reaches for flamethrower}
    “. . . I drink it neat!”
    {torches Mr. Freeze’s lair}

  127. Mr M — I agree it gets a little bit jokey here and there, but the outrageous over-the-top violence is necessary to secure the feverish nightmare expoitation vibe they’re shooting for, I think. Some of it works and some doesn’t quite connect, but what works is so closely bound to what doesn’t that it’s hard to quite lose one without the other. The guy being beaten with barbed wire baseball bats by topless gals in the Drake’s lair — too campy. The Drake kids torching a schoolbus full of kids to “Disco Inferno” — awesomely sadistic legitmate expoitation boundary-pushing. The Plague in the hospital — crazy, imaginative, classic genre stuff. The 80s synth ballad over the credits — too jokey. I didn’t mind the SPOILER everyone-dies ending, which felt earned by the general bleakness of the rest of the film, but I thought they undercut its impact with the on-the-nose period music.

    Obviously, Hauer is in another league, and for whatever reason gives one of the best performances of his career. But I think he fits into the tone of the movie mostly pretty seamlessly. No one else is on a level with him, but all the rest of the filmmaking and performances generally reinforce his insane intensity which is ingratiatingly over the top but never a joke. Occasionally the movie is a joke, but I thought less so than most of the detractors seem to think. As silly as an ice-skate attack is, I think they treat it seriously as a real painful threat and so to me it seems like less of a joke and more of an attempt to create something really fucking crazy.

    Oh yeah, I haven’t mentioned this before but IMHO Hauer’s best line is when he’s finally got the drop on the Drake at the end and he says something like, “You were a shitty father.” On paper its just kind of a mean thing to say which doesn’t have a lot of context, but Hauer delivers it with this stunning mix of pathos, power and resignation. He’s not insulting him, it honestly seems like he’s lamenting that this guy’s shitty parenting caused so much pain and ruined so many lives. I don’t think I’m reading too deeply into it to suspect that Det. John Hobo may have made some mistakes with his own family (which he barely hints at in his Hobo With A Shotgun monologue) and you can see the weight of that history and his deep sadness with the world on his face and hear it in his voice. The subtext of the film is all about the sadness of wasted potential, and it feels like he genuinely feels bad for the Drake boys after meeting their dad.

    I need to see it again because there’s a kind of interesting metaphor involving God at the end which seemed to be playing with the idea that if we can blame Drake for his kids, can we blame God for the deplorable way his children behave. I thought it was interesting and quite fitting but I can’t remember the details quite enough to feel like I had a complete grasp on what they were getting at.

    Still glad you like it, Mr. M. How do you think it stacks up to the other G-House homages?

  128. I read yesterday that Brian Downey was a few years ago mugged and almost beaten to death. So I wonder if he took a role in this movie, because the vigilante theme appealed to him.

  129. Also in terms of awesome Rutger Hauer moments, here is his cameo in the wildly overrated German smash hit KNOCKING ON HEAVEN’S DOOR, about two terminal ill men, who steal a gangster bosses car to go reach the ocean before they die, because someone told them that in heaven everybody talks about how awesome it is.

    It’s not a long scene, but it shows how Hauer can even make a movie worth watching, just by appaering in it for less than 2 minutes.


  130. Mr. S – I agree with your assessment of which over-the-top gags worked and which didn’t. I’m not saying take out all the blood, but there should have been some escalation. Once the first head exploded, there was nowhere to go. I would also add the Suicide Girl dancing in the fountain of blood as a definite groaner, not just for its obvious pandering but for logistical reasons. If the dude was hanging by his head, the body would drop once the head was removed, no? I shouldn’t be thinking about shit like that when there’s a hot brunette rubbing Karo syrup on her hooters.

    It’s hard to say how it stacks up to other recent homages. I kind of like all of them in their own way (because let’s be frank, I’m the intended audience for this kind of shit) but except for BLACK DYNAMITE and PLANET TERROR I don’t love any of them. I’d say Hauer gives the best performance in any of them, which makes HWAS’s weakness’ all the more unfortunate.

  131. Oh, and I did like that line. It was so good that even The Drake seemed to take it to heart for a second. It was the only time his character seemed to have any kind of inner life.

  132. Once again I find myself nodding while perusing a Mr. Subtlety post. Analysis of the “You were a shitty father” line = on point.

  133. Mr M you gotta get back into the reviewing game. I’ve finished with your backlog and now the internet is boring. How the fuck am I gonna get the inside track on DR. GIGGLES and whatnot without you putting your eyeballs to screen and fingers to keyboard?

  134. I keep doing it backwards. Now I got pink eye and fingerprints all over my TV.

    Seriously, though, I’ll try. I started writing a review of an old DYI post-apocalypse flick called THE AFTERMATH starring Sid Haig and a shitload of ADR but I forgot everything I was gonna say after I wrote the opening paragraph. I forgot that I used to take notes before I reviewed a movie. It can be hard to get back on the horse when you’re out of practice, but I’ll try again soon, I promise.

  135. Mouth- thank you for the detailed and informative response to my mag query, and for the badass juxtaposition you included by mentioning a “fanny pack”.

    Other potential Batman hockey pun- “Puck You.”

    CJ- You mean there’s something worth seeing that movie for BESIDES Xenia Seeberg(also of LEXX) in her underwear?

  136. Jareth Cutestory

    July 15th, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    “It can be hard to get back on the horse when you’re out of practice.”

    That’s what Equinas said!

  137. I love how we just keep beating that dead horse (off)

  138. I think Hauer plays the right notes. If you’re making a crazy super insane movie, you need an anchor. Hauer’s that guy And the filmmakers had to know what they’d get…when has Hauer EVER delivered a campy performance? He’s always dead serious. Like in the horrible Buffy movie, everyone is cheesy and campy and freaking PAUL RUEBENS is the vampire henchman, but there’s Hauer, delivering a real performance, or as close to one as he could considering the material.

  139. Misters S&M,

    I don’t know, one of the things I liked best about this film was the disparity between the seriousness/commitment if Hauer’s performance vs. the more PLANET TERROR-y jokey tone of the rest of the film. Thought Hauer’s seriousness made the jokes funnier, and thought the overall tone made his performance stand out even more.

    In fact, I almost wish it was jokier than it was, because I’m sort of in the Vern camp where I didn’t think enough of the jokes connected. I liked the movie well enough, but I honestly think more laughs would have helped it go the extra mile for me. Like Majestyk, I really love PLANET TERROR and I don’t think the humor or sometimes self-mocking tone makes it feel like a fake movie. I think that’s the sort of style they were aiming for with HOBO, but the filmakers just aren’t as funny or visually imaginative as Robert Rodriguez.

  140. I’d just like to add I caught MACGRUBER on tv a couple of nights ago and I thought it was really funny, and it only works because MACGRUBER *is* a massive despicable arsehole. Without that it would have been a sorta lame action movie parody with a dumb-but-nice protagonist. I particularly loved the recruitment montage with all the WWE guys and how he rejects the Big Show after finding out he’s gay.

  141. I really liked the scene with him at the hospital talking to all the newborns. It was classic Hauer. But I’ve only seen that one part. I can’t comment on anything else. Still looking forward to it. And Vern, nicely written.

  142. So… a question. This is finally coming to my local arts cinema. I gotta say, with the exception of “Toxic Avenger”, I couldn’t care less about the whole subgenre of dayglo-exploitation or whatever they call it. But this one has had some fairly decent write-ups, and my experience is that Rutger Hauer is often worth seeing even when nothing else about his movies is any good. You guys know my tastes – I can laugh at a bad movie, enjoy a good one, but despise a mediocre one.

    So is this in the latter category? Should I go see it? I’m undecided either way; but “local” for me means an hour’s drive there and back, so it’s an investment of time as well as cash. Would it be worth it?

  143. Paul,

    Mr Subtlety won’t like me saying this, but it can totally wait for video. I liked HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, but I don’t think you’re gonna find a lot of people who consider it a must see.

  144. Nah I’m completely fine with the fact that this isn’t gonna be everyone’s cup of tea. I love it anyway.

    Zombie Paul (are you the same as original Paul, but back? Or were you always a zombie but never mentioned it?) — you say you don’t have much interest in exploitation films. This was IMHO a pretty great exploitation film with a really great Hauer performance in it, but if the genre is just not really up your ally you can probably wait (do see it eventually, however!).

  145. I can’t see anyone thinking it’s mediocre though. I say go see it!

  146. I’d sort of be that guy. I liked Hobo enough, but ultimately it was too silly to take seriously but not funny enough to be a comedy. A few decent gore gags. The assassins were cool. That’s about it. DVD is good enough for this movie unless you can see it in a theater packed with people jazzed to see it.

  147. We ALREADY have the FARMER from Dragonball Z and he uses A SHOTGUN too! WHO’D BEAT WHO?!?

  148. Rutger Hauer, ‘Blade Runner’ Co-Star, Dies at 75

    Rutger Hauer, the versatile Dutch leading man of the ’70s who went on star in the 1982 “Blade Runner” as Roy Batty, died July 19 at his home in the Netherlands after a short illne…

  149. Goddammit!!! He still had 2 or 3 roles in him. I still haven’t seen HOBO so now I have a reminder to do so but this weekend will be all about BLIND FURY, NIGHT HAWKS & FLESH AND BLOOD. As if there is ever a reason to rewatch those anyway outside of their awesomeness. R.I.P. Mr. Hauer and thanks for the memories.

  150. Yes, this is very sad. He is one of my favorites and he was still giving it 100% even in less than stellar movies. I thought he was especially good in 24 Hours to Live and I said that I thought he deserved an Oscar nom for Hobo With a Shotgun.

  151. I don’t think I followed his filmography as closely as many (am not a deep BLADE RUNNER or BLIND FURY geek, though have seen both), but I’m remembering how he had pretty much dropped off the radar (mine, at least), and then he came in and killed it in BATMAN BEGINS. He is an absolutely delightful p-o-s Jamie Dimon/Goldman Sachs-type corporate dbag, and his interactions with Morgan Freeman and Christian Bale are one of the most enjoyable motifs in a film that has a lot of other great stuff to compete with.

    I also vaguely remember he did some HBO original movie where prisoners wore these dog collars that would make their heads explode if they went a certain distance past the invisible fence in some futuristic prison. Or did I hallucinate that?

  152. The Undefeated Gaul

    July 25th, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    Skani – that would be Wedlock. No hallucination!

  153. Vindication! lol. According to Wikipedia, the futuristic prison in WEDLOCK is “improbably co-ed” bahaha. Best Wikipedia quote of recent memory.

  154. I think the best testament to Hauer’s charisma and presence is that everybody’s favorite part of BLADE RUNNER, arguably the most precisely designed movie ever made at that time, is a little speech Hauer just kind of made up on the day. You can work for years to load up your film with all the bells and whistles that your talent and technology can provide, but in the end it just takes one impossibly badass motherfucker saying some cool shit to steal your whole movie right out from under you.

    I’m a BLIND FURY guy myself. His underrated gem is SPLIT SECOND, in my opinion. And it’s true: His HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN performance only gets more impressive with time. Still not fully sold on the movie, but that’s a role I don’t think ten guys in the world could have pulled off, with all those shadings and color, so seemingly effortless, despite the ludicrous context he was forced to exist in. Some people just have no replacement.

  155. Yep, as far as underrated Rutger Hauer movies go, I’d second SPLIT SECOND in a split second. BLIND FURY is a little too goofy for my tastes, but it’s a worthy ZATOICHI riff and Hauer is great in it. WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE is worth it just for the “fuck the bonus” scene.

    Despite anyones feelings on HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, nobody can deny that Hauer brought a lot of weird gravitas to a role that he could have easily phoned in.

  156. Mr M, Roy Batty’s famous monologue is not “a little speech Hauer just kind made up on the day”. Most of it was already in the script, but the night before shooting he decided to shorten the lines a little and add the “tears in rain” bit at the end.

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