Classic model of marketing and producing exploitation pictures included two things before even first draft of screenplay has been written. They were the title and the poster – however second one started slowly losing it’s ground in the 70’s, when cinematic trailers took over pushing salacious agenda over the edge. This strategy was applied en masse by American International Pictures, who made a real art of feeding drive-in directors with freshly knocked out, shocking, sleazy titles and promptly picking the wind if it was in their favour. The thing is, it really worked for more than 15 years! We got a lot of exploitation shit ONLY DUE TO THIS MARKETING GIMMICK.
When Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino brainstormed during one of their home cinema sessions after they watched some flicks edited by QT as a double feature with essential trailers filling the gap, they settled on finalizing the Grindhouse project. Two feature movies… with ass-cracking trailers. I personally loved Planet Terror"… a little bit less "Death Proof", but the trailers were definitely the shit! First of these shorts featured cold as steel and quick as F16 – Machete. The other one some random hobo with a shotgun. Response was positive, so the screenplays followed and they both made their way onto the screen. This way history – though not without the help of RR & QT –nicely repeated itself!
It’s all good as this Canadian donut, directed by Jason Eisener, brings back unforgettable Rutger Hauer to the mass audience and gives us one more ball-busting performance. This time he’s a scruffy bum, who gets off the train in a small American town just to find out that this stop will not be as easy going as he would expect. He soon discovers he landed in the lawless heart of darkness, where corrupt cops are at ease with bloody acts of criminality committed by a ruthless local gang – ruled by The Drake and his two sons. Pushing the trolley he eventually gets pushed to the ground by all the scum and doesn’t have any other choice than to take a BIG shotgun and shoot down all motherfuckers. While this is obviously a classic western frame, the movie steps up to a total exploitation revival freak-out sampling and reusing themes from "Django" (1966), "Class 1984" (1982), "Death Wish" (1974) and you name it.
While this might seem easy, for the first half an hour it definitely „grabs you by the boo boo”. Scenes are shot with a sense of style not saying that some of them are genuinely beautiful. I personally like Hauer’s monologue over a newborn with pastel, blue & yellow background and slow, vast camera zoom, joined by music theme a la Vangelis. This is a great homage to "Blade Runner" (or at least it seems so), which makes Hauer’s appearance intertwined with director’s genre picking game. Some other moments carry the same resemblance, all for the great entertainment of ardent genre flicks followers. A violence, blood and language are like sweet chocolate cake here – they are not the additional elements, they are the essence.
However, the basic problem of the movie is a quick plot breakdown and disperse of it’s magic! After main character starts to rumble around with his shotgun trying to bring back the justice to town while local papers print bold headlines and the body count, a story slowly falls behind Hauer’s acting and we start feeling out the bottom. Although screenplay doesn’t seem that bad, quick cut action-action eventually tops itself crumbling into randomly tossed pieces. Loss of vibe and suspense follows, which apart of Rutger Hauer’s creation are initial picture’s strongest sides. Still, let’s not forget it’s a very funny movie with plenty of shitstorm action and it ticks very well as an exploitation revival flick. Although „Hobo With A Shotgun” will not pass as please-fuck-me masterpiece, it’s gonna find it’s audience and could be classified as a good mindscrew for another encounter.