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Blu-Ray : Recommended
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Release Date: July 5th, 2011 Movie Release Year: 2011

Hobo with a Shotgun

Overview -

A train pulls into the station – it’s the end of the line. A Hobo jumps from a freight car, hoping for a fresh start in a new city. Instead, he finds himself trapped in an urban hell. This is a world where criminals rule the streets and Drake, the city’s crime boss, reigns supreme alongside his sadistic murderous sons, Slick & Ivan. Amidst the chaos, the Hobo comes across a pawn shop window displaying a second hand lawn mower. He dreams of making the city a beautiful place and starting a new life for himself. But as the brutality continues to rage around him, he notices a shotgun hanging above the lawn mower... Quickly, he realizes the only way to make a difference in this town is with that gun in his hand and two shells in its chamber.

Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Region A Locked
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p/AVC MPEG-4
Aspect Ratio(s):
Audio Formats:
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Special Features:
Release Date:
July 5th, 2011

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


'Hobo with a Shotgun' is essentially everything 'Planet Terror' and 'Machete' wanted to be, or at least, everything they were aiming for. That's not to say those movies from Robert Rodriguez are terrible or unwatchable, because they're not. They simply fall short at capturing the true spirit of exploitation films (something which Tarantino's 'Death Proof' does better but underappreciated), becoming instead exaggerated caricatures of that unique era. They work in their own right as garish embellishments of the genre, had the makers a larger budget to play with. Canadian filmmakers Jason Eisener (who also takes director credits), John Davies and Rob Cotterill, on the other hand, find that perfect balance of cheap, trashy thrills and good entertainment, delivering a fun celebration of B-movie yarn.

The significant difference between those movies — the reason why one works well while the others don't as much — is that it takes itself serious. 'Hobo,' which was originally a faux trailer entry in a 'Grindhouse' promo contest and won, clearly knows what it's doing and exploits every avenue possible at being every bit like its inspiration. But it never feels like an imitation or goes so outlandishly over-the-top that it's difficult to imagine what school of moviemaking it tries to emulate. It has fun with the material as a genuine movie production rather than a production that parodies and makes a burlesqued fiasco of the material. The film works, for the most part, because it simply is a violently gruesome vigilante feature with an outrageous plot, bad acting and shocking special effects.

From the moment it commences and the weird Morricone-esque music plays in the background, the low-budget flick looks like something straight out of the 1970s. We don't see any fake scratches or tears running across the screen, but the print gives the appearance of not having aged well. Contrast runs hotter than normal, and colors are over-saturated, providing the movie with that "sitting in a cheap, defunct theater" atmosphere without being heavy-handed. In order to stay relevant, however, filmmakers include a reference to the deplorable bumfight craze from a few years ago, which was utterly hilarious. The movie as a whole is terrifically funny with guns blasting away at the start and ending in a blaze of glory — an elated and animated love letter to a bygone period from start to finish.

Without a doubt, the real highlight of the show is Rutger Hauer in the titular role of a homeless man fed up with the endless acts of violence on the streets of Hope Town, otherwise known as "Scum Town." Something about him saving his begging money to buy a lawnmower and start a business makes him immediately likeable, and Hauer chews through his scenes with admirable appeal. The nameless hobo strolls into town aboard a freight train like another gun-toting nameless hero made legendary by Clint Eastwood. And much like him, the weary traveler keeps to himself, speaking only when necessary. Opposite Hauer is Molly Dunsworth as the typical prostitute with a heart of gold named Abby, and she sees the hobo's lawn mowing business as her meal ticket out of Scum Town.

Standing in their way is a family of instantly-detestable villains, The Drake (Brian Downey), Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman), which audiences want to see met with swift, gory justice — the cornerstone to any good vigilante flick. But they're also somewhat of a downside in a movie aiming for authenticity because they come off as cartoon characters of bad guys. Granted, villains in these sorts of movies are over-the-top and this trio is truly awful, but their style and mannerisms are excessive and a tad distracting in many scenes. But once The Plague, a pair of armor-clad maniacs (Nick Bateman and Peter Simas), enters the picture, the narrative not only rights itself but also goes nightmarishly dark and über absurd. But in a good way — a very good way.

In the end, with a title like 'Hobo with a Shotgun,' it's easy to figure out if the movie will be your cup of tea or if it will offend your delicate sensibilities. But just in case, let's make it perfectly clear. The low-budget movie stars a hobo wielding a shotgun, and he means to clean up the streets with the blood from the scum of the Earth! Take it exactly for what it is — part of that being homage to the exploitation, drive-in features of the 1970s — and the movie delivers a hysterical joyride of B-mania nonsense.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Magnolia Home Entertainment and Magnet Releasing bring 'Hobo with a Shotgun' to Blu-ray as a Collector's Edition, though it's not clear what exactly makes a collector's item. Nonetheless, the movie comes on a Region A locked, BD50 disc, which also includes a digital copy for portable devices, and housed in a standard blue keepcase. The glossy cardboard slipcover is the same as the amazing poster art which looks somewhat aged with folded crease running down the center as well as to the sides. At startup, a series of skippable trailers kick things off, and afterwards, viewers are greeted with the normal menu option while music and full-motion clips play in the background.

Video Review


'Hobo with a Shotgun' splatters the screen with a highly-stylized and dated 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (2.40:1). Shot entirely on HD cameras (or more specifically, on the RED Mysterium-X), the colors are overly saturated on purpose, giving the picture a strange, almost-neon glow that imitates the look of low-budget 70s filmmaking. Much of the palette pushes toward a vividly harsh red-orange and yellow mien. Contrast, too, is deliberately hot with blown highlights, adding to the movie's intensity and energy, but black levels are surprisingly not affected by this, rendered with rich accuracy and inkiness. A few low-lit sequences unfortunately reveal some noise, which is a minor drawback of shooting in the HD format, but it's a small complaint when considering the rest of the presentation. Details are excellent and sharply defined, exposing every wrinkle of Rutger Hauer's face and every tiny feature of this gore-gasmic splatterfest.

Audio Review


'Hobo' also explodes with a very active and energetic DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, which terrifically amplifies the movie's absurdity and over-the-top silliness. The front soundstage is spacious and warm with a clear, precise mid-range and room-penetrating discrete effects throughout. Balance between the channels is excellent with convincing movement and well-prioritized dialogue. The low-end is highly-responsive and powerful, extending nicely into the back and with ample force. Atmospherics are not very consistent, but when used, they are amusing and enhance the soundfield satisfyingly. Overall, it's an enthusiastic lossless mix for an exceedingly animated low-budget feature.

Special Features


Magnolia puts together a rather nice collection of bonus features for this release of 'Hobo with a Shotgun.'

  • Audio Commentaries — Two commentary tracks are offered in the package. The first is with director Jason Eisener and star Rutger Hauer talking enthusiastically about the movie and the unexpected audience reaction during the Sundance Film Festival. The two talk passionately about the production, influences and several other hilarious anecdotes. While much of the track is scene-specific, it remains a fun listen because their enthusiasm is rather contagious.

    For the second audio track, the director returns with writer John Davies, producer Rob Cotterill and David Brunt, the original hobo of the winning faux trailer. This conversation is much more technical with tons of background info on filming techniques, challenges, special effects and shooting locations. Brunt seems quiet throughout, except he can be heard laughing every once in a while. The group has a pleasant exchange and they clearly enjoy each other's company while also being very informative about the production.

  • More Blood, More Heart: The Making of Hobo with a Shotgun (HD, 45 min) — This behind-the-scenes documentary offers a surprisingly entertaining look at the production, the film's origins and the fun everyone had on the set. Particularly enjoyable is how each character and actor is given ample screen time, from their casting to performance and motivation. It was especially nice to see several minutes spent on the original "Hobo" David Brunt. Towards the end, the first-time filmmakers talk about the challenges and difficulties of working with a small budget, and Hauer shares his thoughts on being an actor. It's a good piece and worth a watch for other aspiring filmmakers.

  • Alternate Ending (HD, 1 min) — Not exactly an alternate ending, more like an additional scene after the events of the film proper, showing The Plague's initiation process.

  • Video Blogs (SD, 7 min) — A collection of nine very short clips with behind-the-scenes footage, some of which can also be seen in the doc, that originally aired on the movie's website.

  • Camera Test Reel (HD, 3 min) — A series of test footage, experimenting with lighting, camera angles and movement.

  • Fangoria Interviews (SD, 45 min) — Michael Gingold from the horror movie magazine interviews Rutger Hauer on the character and director Jason Eisener on the plot's origins, the fake trailer and the production in general.

  • HDNet: A Look at Hobo with a Shotgun (1080i/60, 5 min) — A hugely brief look at the movie showing an interview with Eisener and Hauer laying together in bed.

  • Grindhouse Trailer Contest Winner (SD, 2 min) — The original trailer with David Brunt which won the contest.

  • Hobo with a Shotgun Faux Trailer Contest Winner (SD, 2 min) — The filmmakers of Hobo ran their trailer contest, and the winner is a hilarious preview for "Van Gore" about a postmortem artist. I love that title!

  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 6 min) — A decent compilation of scenes that didn't make the final cut, which suddenly breaks out into montage with John Carpenter-inspired music playing in the background.

  • Trailers (SD, HD) — The collection includes a "redband" preview, two Canadian television spots, and more from Magnolia Home Entertainment, like 'Rubber,' 'The Troll Hunter,' '13 Assassins,' 'The Perfect Host,' and an HDNet promo.

Final Thoughts

The title, 'Hobo with a Shotgun,' says it all. Viewers are forewarned while others are enthusiastically invited to soak in the ghastly, low-budget spectacle. Featuring a terrific performance from Rutger Hauer, the Canadian-produced movie is an awesomely wild and hilarious celebration of drive-in B-features. It's meant for the most discerning and passionate collectors of exploitation cinema, filled with various, very subtle references throughout; for example, the Carpenter-inspired musical score and the song "The Naked and the Dead" by Simon Boswell and Andi Sex-Gang. And the Blu-ray does a terrific job of bringing the movie home with an excellent audio/video presentation and a wealth of supplemental material. Exploitation enthusiasts will want this in their collection, and others will want to check this out for a good laugh. Just remember, the title is a warning, so don't expect any less.