Flop or not, Quentin Tanrantino and Robert Rodriguez's Grindhouse was certainly influential enough with countless crazy-ass films trying to capture the same type of trashy faux-thenticity and lolgasmic OTT nonsense since.
The results have been a mixed bag, for sure, but I'm happy to say Hobo With A Shotgun is one of the good ones.
It seemed pretty promising, the prospect of an aging Rutger Hauer shotgunning down thugs "one shell at a time" was something to look forward to. In the end we got a film which unfortunately didn't have that "event" quality Planet Terror possessed but which did not disappoint delivering a strong, funny, completely entertaining addition to the subgenre. Hobo With A Shotgun works as a stylish, well made Troma flick with less boobs but more surreal cruelty... and more hobos. The film looks great with its, ahem, interesting colour palette mostly limited to red or blue half the time, Hauer plays it straight and does a fantastic job giving the silliest lines and character traits an emotional weight you didn't really expect for a farce of this magnitude and the gore/practical effects are absolutely spot-on.
The film follows a passive hobo who comes to some shitty-ass town to find that criminals there run amok doing whatever horrendous deeds they see fit, all with the police in their pocket and in the name of some crazy old dude only known as "The Drake" (Brian Downey) who I think is meant to be intimidating but comes off more as a 60's Batman villain than anything else. To be fair, he did invent the razor blade-baseball bat...
Love The Drake!
(obscure Seinfeld reference, don't worry about it)
His minions include his sons, played as cartoonishly and as loud as possible by Nick Bateman and Gregory Smith and two silly but great looking Hell robot type things. The slight plot is typical revenge/hero stuff with our hobo deciding to rid the streets of the scum that scarred him and humiliated him by purchasing a shotgun (over the lawn-mower he had his heart set on) and kickin' ass. This leads to A LOT of gratuitous violence and a scene in which Hauer is made to chew broken glass for $20. The action is shot like an acid trip with the quiet moments being really quiet and the hyper moment super crazy hyper: this makes it a bit of a mess but for the most part, it works.
Overall, Hobo With A Shotgun is by far one of the best post-Planet Terror attempts at a Grindhouse flick and the film, though its random sense of humour and brutal approach are highlights, is made unique by Rutger Hauer's quietly touching performance which gives us one character to really care about in an otherwise wildly ridiculous outing. Watch out for that bear speech: freakin' beautiful.