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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Hobo with a Shotgun

July 5th, 2011

Hobo with a Shotgun - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Two-Disc Collector's Edition DVD, or Blu-ray

This film has one of the strangest origins around. Hobo with a Shotgun was seen as one of the fake trailers in Grindhouse, but unlike the other fake trailers, this one wasn't directed by someone famous, but was the result of a contest. Not everyone who saw the film in theaters saw the trailer, but it was popular enough with those who did that it became the second Grindhouse Spin-off. So from contest entry to feature-length film. But was there enough in that first trailer sustain an 86-minute long film?

The Movie

Rutger Hauer stars as the titular Hobo, whom we meet arriving in Hope Town, which is a small town at the end of the railway line. He's come to town to start over (he wants to get a lawn mower so he can start a lawn mowing business and make some honest money) but quickly learns there's little hope in Hope Town. The town is controlled by The Drake, a sadistic crime boss, and his two sons, Slick and Ivan. After saving Abby, a local prostitute, from Slick, the Hobo takes Slick to the cops, only to learn The Drake has the chef of police on his payroll. And gets a beatdown as payment for trying to do the right thing.

Despite all of this, he still tries to get the money he needs to fulfill his dream. But on the day he's ready to buy his lawn mower, the pawn shop is robbed and he realizes Hope Town doesn't need someone to make it look nice. It needs someone with a shotgun willing to take out the trash.

It's not much of a story and its just your typical revenge / vigilante film that were so popular in the 1970s and 1980s that really became popular after Death Wish. But instead of emulating those films, this film emulates the films of Roger Corman and Troma. The film really takes that inspiration and runs with it and pushes it to the extreme. Was this a wise move? Yes and no. If you are a fan of these films, then this one should certainly be entertaining. Rutger Hauer makes an excellent protagonist and he is the highlight of the film. There's lots of gore and exploitation and the bad guys are cartoonishly evil in a way that's appropriate to the genre.

On the other hand, there's a lack of humor to the film that I was a little disappointed in. A little bit of humor would have been helpful. Also, the filmmakers emulated the low-budget aesthetics just a little too much and some scenes were hard to follow due to the harsh contrast, low lighting, etc.

The Extras

Extras on the single-disc DVD include two audio commentary tracks, the first with writer / director, Jason Eisener, and the star, Rutger Hauer. The second again features Jason Eisener, this time with co-writer John Davies, as well as producers Rob Cotterill and David Brunt. Lots of information is given in these commentary tracks from production stories to behind-the-scenes info, to just plain weird stuff. There is also a Shotgun Mode, which includes dozens of clips you can check out while watching the movie. You can also watch these clips individually, or as an 106-minute long extra. Yes, the clips are longer than the movie itself is.

The Two-Disc Collector's Edition starts with a 45-minute long making of featurette and 44-minute long interview featurettes with Rutger Hauer and Jason Eisener. There are also a lot of smaller extras from deleted scenes, behind-the-scene vlogs, previews, and more. It's a huge collection and extras, and more than I expected given its short theatrical run.

I don't have the Blu-ray to compare, but I don't think there are any exclusives. Plus this is not the type of film you need to see in High Definition to enjoy, although it is shot digitally. That said, the Blu-ray is actually cheaper than the equivalent DVD on Amazon.com and cheaper than the single-disc DVD. Can't beat that deal.

The Verdict

Hobo with a Shotgun earned better than expected reviews and opened well in limited release, but it was never able to expand significantly. The reason for that is simple, it's target audience is too small. If you are part of that target audience, then the film is worth checking out. If you only want to rent, the DVD is fine for that. But if you are looking to purchase, grab the Blu-ray over the Two-Disc Collector's Edition DVD.


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Filed under: Video Review, Hobo with a Shotgun