So what can one even begin to say about a movie with the title HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN? At least there is honesty and truth within that title, as for all intents and purposes, it is simply, a movie about a bum with a gun. Of course their title sounds much more interesting and by far more in tune with the grindhouse feel I assume they were going for. Truthfully, this movie had a serious Tarentino vibe to it, which makes perfect sense considering it was the winner of a contest to develop a fake trailer for the Tarentino/Rodriguez double feature, Grindhouse. However, it is a Canadian production from director Jason Eisener and is a fairly good example of an exploitation film.
When we first meet the hobo (a stellar Rutger Hauer), he is hopping off the train at a place called Hope Town - which is obviously not quite the case, as someone has spray-painted SCUM over the word Hope. And Scum Town is a pretty fair assessment - the place is overrun with violence and mayhem.
A tyrant named The Drake (Brian Downey) has taken over the town, killing people willy-nilly in ridiculous and over the top ways. He is aided by his two sons, Ivan and Slick (Nick Bateman and Gregory Smith, respectively)- both of which are as evil and perverse as their daddy. Immediately I absolutely hated these three characters. I presume we are supposed to hate them as they have no redeeming qualities. They just bounce through town ravaging the place. The town is rife with crime - hookers walk the streets, a former arcade has been turned into a den of iniquity, the cops are in The Drake's pockets, and people are just living in fear of what comes next. It is so preposterous to imagine a town gone so wrong. It's as if the place is completely off the radar. In reality it's safe to assume the National Guard would just come in and shut the whole place down. But we must set reality aside if we are to even remotely enjoy what's to come.
Our hobo, upon arrival, witnesses The Drake (who is one of the most annoying characters I've ever seen) killing his brother via decapitation (which is flat-out comical if I'm being truthful).
The Drake is wildly proud of himself for his deed and his sons implore the gawking townsfolk to applaud his treachery lest they lose their own heads. Hobo is aghast at the blatant violence and the lack of authority but stands in the shadows nonetheless, hopeless to help.
Hobo heads for the local pawn shop (because all small towns have pawn shops, you see) and daydreams about buying a lawnmower that costs $49.99. Seriously. We see a few flashbacks of him as a kid, watching his pops cut the grass as the family stands around admiring him. O...kay.
While this sounds pretty silly so far, I assure you it would be if you didn't feel some sort of sorrow and sympathy for the hobo. Let's face it, Rutger Hauer has always been a great actor. I recall my first impression of him while watching the thriller, Nighthawks. He ran rings around Stallone in the acting department and seriously makes for a frightening antagonist. Likewise his turn as John Ryder in The Hitcher nearly had me hiding under my bed. Terrifying! That character is burned on my brain for all eternity. So to see him as a man without a real purpose, a lost soul just looking for his next meal, well it only proved to me again his range as an actor. I felt so darn bad for him in this film. And quite honestly, another actor just might not have cut the mustard.
Following the rotten duo of Slick and Ivan to the sleazy arcade, he eventually saves the day for a young hooker named Abby (Molly Dunsworth). Slick, wanting to add her to his list of conquests (in both sex and death), is prevented from completing his act by Hobo, who knocks him out and drags him to the police station. Unfortunately he doesn't realize the cops are corrupt until it's too late and they give him a permanent (and bloody) reminder.
Found bleeding on the streets by Abby, Hobo is taken to her apartment and cared for. She gives him a place to rest for the night and the two hit it off (more in a father-daughter way) discussing their mutually depressing existences.
When the Hobo raises enough money to purchase his lawnmower (which we have now ascertained he is planning to start a lawn-cutting business with), he heads to the pawn shop. Regrettably, a trio of robbers also enters the shop and takes a woman hostage and holds a gun to her baby's head. Hobo gazes to the wall where he sees a shotgun (remarkably also only $49.99). He suddenly flips out, grabbing the gun off the wall and taking care of business by shooting all three thugs to death. He slaps his hard-earned money on the counter and buys the shotgun instead of the lawnmower.
And so begins his rampage of justice, a vigilante is born! Hobo starts offing all the criminals in town, gaining a reputation as a savior for the town. Naturally The Drake and Co. aren't too keen on the hobo taking things into his own hands. To make a point, the boys enter a school bus full of children and use a flamethrower, setting the whole thing on fire and killing all the kids. (Yep, they spared no feelings on this film.)
Basically the rest of the film is the bad guys trying to halt the hobo's homemade neighborhood watch. Blood literally sprays from every corner of the screen. There are parts that had me exclaiming things like "Come on!" and "Get serious!" But these things are expected in an exploitation flick, I realize that. And while the whole film reeks of laughable and outrageous camp, Hauer's performance is genuine and - if I may use this word - heartfelt. You really want everything to work out for him. You long for him and Abby to get out of the shitty life they currently have and settle down in a nice neighborhood with a little cottage on a tree-lined street, food on their table, and HBO on the flat-screen. But life doesn't always turn out like we want, does it?
I think it's best said by the hobo himself, when he is admiring a nursery full of newborns: "I used to be like you... a long time ago. All brand new and perfect. No mistakes, no regrets. People look at you and think of how wonderful your future will be. They want you to be something special... like a doctor or a lawyer. I hate to tell you this, but if you grow up here, you're more likely to wind up selling your bodies on the streets, or shooting dope from dirty needles in a bus stop. And if you're successful, you'll make money selling junk to crackheads. And don't think twice about killing someone's wife, because you won't even know it's wrong in the first place. Maybe... you'll end up like me. A hobo with a shotgun."
I seem to have a knack of having several open-ended series/features on my blog, which might make me seem like a bit of a scatterbrain. In reality, I'm not. I'm actually kind of OCD. But my brain is always thinking and sometimes things come to me and I just want to write about it.
I'm enjoying Season 4 of True Blood quite a bit. The characters are so fleshed-out this year, everyone seems to be hitting their stride - they own these roles. Hence, my first of a series of "love" letters to my favorite characters.
Most people might not give Sam Merlotte a second glance - he's always being overlooked by people obsessed with vampires or the new werewolf in town (which to be honest, isn't a bad thing). But I have a soft spot in my heart for Sam. He takes all the shit he can handle and still seems to come out on top.
So here's to you, Sam - and to many more pool-table romps and trailer trash breakfasts cooked in bacon grease...
First off, I have to tell you that you deserve more than you get. You seem to always be getting fucked over in one way or another. You've had such a rough life, with your adoptive parents ditching you and leaving you alone to fend for yourself and figure out just what the hell you were. What were they thinking? It's not like you morphed into a friggin' lion or something - just a cute little puppy dog. At the very least they could have made some dough off you at the local circus. Nah, just kidding.
But you were tough, working your way up from having nothing to owning and managing the Bon Temps, Louisiana hot spot, Merlotte's. Not an easy task for someone who grew up fending for himself on the streets. Of course we know now that you were bed buddies with the less than scrupulous Maryann Forester, and stole some of her cash in the dead of night. Wise move, good call. Well, until she came back to wreak havoc on the entire town. But hey, all that's forgiven.
I have to ask though, if you were (are?) so hot for the local telepathic waitress Sookie, why on earth did you wait till she got googly eyes for the new guy in town before you made your move? You should have known you wouldn't have a chance with a vampire sneaking in under the radar. You snooze you lose.
Then you get all cozy with Tara. Big mistake...huge! That girl has no clue who she is, what she wants, or how to be anything less than a bad-tempered, belly-aching bitch. You should have known she'd turn everything around and make you the reason for all her pouting and whining. Stop the madness! Stay out of her dance space, she'll only bring you grief.
And Sam, I love ya, but how could you not see through Daphne? The girl couldn't even fill a salt shaker. And to find out she's one of Maryann's consorts who would just as soon sell you out to the devil as to ride your hobby horse.
I do love when that bad-boy streak comes out though, it really turns me on. That confrontation with those three trashy vampires in your bar - when you up and broke that pool stick in half to go after those losers, knowing they could take your head off with one swipe, now that was some impressive ball-bearing action.
And while we're talking about streaking and body parts - I think we need some more naked-ass running through the woods. Yes, please order me up a dish of that at least once every few weeks - I'm getting a little tired of all the pasty white asses of the fanged community.
Being the hero is kind of your thing as well, isn't it? After being an integral part of Sookie's rescue from serial killer Rene Lenier, you went on to help her get her vampire lover Bill out of the sun and into the ground to save his life. Heck, you could have just let the dude roast out there like a toaster pastry and grabbed the girl.
Then you go and kill that bad-ass bitch from your past, Maryann. That maenad hag was gonna offer you up as a sacrifice to whatever gods she claimed to answer to. Obviously she wasn't all that and a bag of potato chips if she was stupid enough to believe you (after shifting into a white bull) were a god. Good call on the goring through the heart. Sam to the rescue again.
Lets talk about your family. No, not the ones who left you high and dry. Your birth family, which makes the disadvantaged coal mining weed dealers on Justified look like the Huxtables. Why'd you have to go look them up? I understand you'd be curious - but once you met them and had to witness Joe-Lee standing around in his saggy underwear drinking cheap beer, that was you cue honey. LEAVE.
And I get that you want to get to know your brother, but wow - to be honest he's been nothing but trouble too! You've been more than kind to him and he's done nothing but take advantage of you and stir up trouble. Take this season for instance. We're only 6 episodes in and Tommy's already stole money from you, said he hated your fucking guts, played on Hoyt's mamma's loss of her son by moving in with her, tried to buy the house gas rights from under Mrs' Fortenberry, and just recently - killed your parents! And you're covering up for him. How does he repay you? By sleeping with your new horsey girlfriend - after he shifted, into YOU (or something that looked exactly like you.) Holy hell. And let's not forget last season he tried to get you run over by a flippin' car! But hey, at least you got to shoot him in the leg. That will score you a few points in the cool book.
Yeah Sam, when it comes to love you seem to be getting the short end of the stick. First of all, you need to give up on Sookie for the time being, especially with Eric Northman in her bed. You don't want to be getting all up in his bidness, as Lafayette would say. Steer clear of the vamps.
Secondly, have some fun. I fear some major repercussions are in store once you find out Tommy has shifted into you (!) and gotten horizontal with your sexy equine lady friend. Hopefully you can fix that can of worms and get on with your midnight rolls in the hay.
When push comes to shove though, I really feel like you might someday get that opportunity with Sookie. As soon as she is through with all her fangbanging activities and tires of all the werewolves growling in her ear, you might just come out on top of the supernatural food chain.
After all, you're honest, hard-working, fair, and let's face it - sexy as hell. Nor will we forget how arousing it is to watch you take a run through the woods.
I feel at some point your warm-blooded nature will finally win her over. (I just don't know if you'll still be on television at that point or if it will happen in the novels...I'm hoping for the best for you.)
So here's to you and your plaid shirts, your shit-kicking boots, your penchant for sleeping with problem women, your hidden bad-ass attitude, and your too-kind heart of gold. I think eventually, you'll get lucky.
At first, The Inheritance seemed to be setting up to be a fairly interesting little horror film. In fact, I'd have to say at least half of the film is worth watching. However, getting through the second act and in particular the ending is something I certainly had to struggle with.
Five cousins (which I'm getting the impression were not truly related, but that their kin had all grown up together over the centuries) travel to an old family estate for what they are calling a family reunion - but is really more or less a trip to see the elders and hopefully find themselves rolling in dough before the weekend's demise. (Or their own. This is a horror movie, after all.)
Interestingly, the quintet are the descendants of slaves, which throws a whole new (and relatively fresh) spin on the "weekend at the creepy country house" tale. They've come to what is being called a family reunion but upon arrival none of the wealthy golden-agers are around. But they've left them a fully stocked kitchen and a case of alcohol, so the younger members of the family dig right in, adding some home-grown hootch to the mix as well. Woot!
In true horror movie form, the director - apparently fearing having an all-black cast - throws in a token white couple who are friends with one of the cuz's. Naturally, we just barely meet them before they are quickly disposed of. I cannot even remotely recall their names. Oh well, moving on...
Thinking their Caucasian friends are just overly horny, the others leave them to their roll in the hay and decide to have a frank discussion about the real reason everyone came to this "reunion" in the dead of winter. They are all, sans one goody-two-shoes-cousin - out for money. And lots of it. This realization leads to even more drinking, smoking copious amounts of wacky weed, and low and behold - ritualistic dancing in the living room in front of the fire place. Um, okay...
Needless to say, they all get trashed and start to hallucinate. Or do they? The requisite frights are here, writing in blood on windows, scary noises to investigate, shadows and visions, etc, etc.. Not exactly setting a precedent here. But the acting, truth be told, is pretty solid. I was still pretty into the film at this point.
Upon morning's arrival, two of the girls awaken to discover one of the aunts sitting in the room staring at them. As if that isn't disconcerting enough, she announces they are about to 'begin'.
And before coffee. Now that's just rude.
Likewise, in the guy's room, a goofy grizzled uncle beats a drum and shoos them from bed and tells them to get ready for the initiation. Now I don't know about you, but at my family reunions they let me sleep till noon, don't play musical instruments while I am trying to sleep off a hangover, and serve me homemade oatmeal with real peaches and some cranberry muffins. They are not gathering us in the great room to tell the woeful tales of the past.
But hey, we do have an inheritance to talk about, right? So the ringleader head uncle starts weaving a story of slavery and sacrifice, helped by the other elders at opportune moments where they can Whoo! and Ah! and jump around menacingly as directed. They duly freak out the cousins who are all pretty much ready at this point to ditch the scene, with or without the money. The "sensible" cousin tries to reason with them, rambling on about how even though they are eccentric they are family and deserve respect.
Yeah, strike her from the guest list at the next family gathering.
Inevitably, once the motivations of "the elders" are truly made clear, the heart of the story, which involves making a deal with an ancient bad guy named (try not to laugh here) Chakabazz, kind of just falls apart. It morphs further into silliness when the elders head out into the woods, form a circle, and actually start chanting non-stop, "Come Chakabazz, Come!" until you want to rip every last hair out of your head.
I felt like I was watching Roots merged with The Wicker Man. While I liked the whole "deal with the devil" plot-line in which the elders apparently threw in with this Chakabazz dude to find their way out of slavery and into extreme wealth and good fortune, when they finally called up his ancientness it ended up feeling like a live-action Saturday morning cartoon. Perhaps an old episode of Scooby Doo ringing in my ears.
Damn, they were doing so well till they called the corners and dressed up like life-size corn dollies. It felt like a casting call for a new Conan movie or some Game of Thrones rejects. Seriously just hard to not laugh at.
At a place in a film where the truth is coming out and the potential victims are supposed to be running around scared out of their wits, I was actually looking at the clock, wondering just how much more I was going to have to sit through.
All in all, I liked the premise, enjoyed the acting, and thought they had the right idea - but at the end it just turned out to be the wrong execution. I doubt I'd take a second look.
Oh, and that DVD cover - no clue where that came from. Wait, maybe they cut off the white girl's head...I honestly cannot remember...