Remember how the very title ‘Snakes On A Plane’ was enough to send B-movie fans into a giddy frenzy? Only for the end product to be a disappointing dud? So it is with Hobo With A Shotgun.
After winning a fake trailer contest backed by Robert ‘Grindhouse’ Rodriguez with an effort costing $150, have-a-go filmmaker Eisener found himself with a few dollars more to flesh out his idea into a full-blown feature.
Unfortunately, blown is the operative word. Because while showing the odd flash of wit, Eisener gets so deep into the grindhouse groove – over-saturated colours, gonzo plotting, ludicrously OTT gore - that what should be a lot of grungy fun too often descends into straight nastiness.
Even the great Rutger Hauer - a man who knows how to walk the line between entertainment and exploitation after starring in numerous Paul Verhoeven movies - struggles to stop the rot as the titular tramp with the 12-gauge.
We meet our nameless hero as he wanders into an urban cesspit swarming with pimps, psychos, junkies and sickos, all living in fear of a crazy druglord called Drake (Downey) and his criminally insane sons (Smith and Bateman).
All the hobo wants is $49.99 for a second-hand lawnmower to start his own business. But after falling foul of Drake’s boys and the equally scummy cops, what he gets is a $49.99 pump-action shotgun.
After years of sifting through garbage, who better to take out the trash? Unhappy at seeing his business blown away by some shambling vigilante, Drake declares open season on the homeless.
A few crassly amusing one-liners and one pearler of a newspaper headline aside, there’s no satirical context to all the blasting, gutting, beheading and maiming that ensues. Let alone the torching of a schoolbus full of children.
Any pauses in the carnage are filled with the platonic relationship between Hobo and a feisty young hooker (Dunsworth), the only woman not portrayed as a blood-lusting lunatic.
And while Hauer’s cross between Rambo and Father Ted’s Father Jack sounds like a uniquely entertaining proposition, his mutterings are really quite dull.
Eisener’s anything-goes embrace of the genre is epitomised by the introduction of Drake’s heavily armoured henchmen, a pair of murderous freaks who appear to have escaped from the nearest Mad Max movie.
But this is no light-hearted spoof. It’s 100% grindhouse. Which, for the most part and by definition, simply makes it trash.