CONTAINS SPOILERS AND NO ATTEMPT TO HIDE MY DISGUST
Is it me? Is it just me? Was I really the only one at FrightFest Glasgow who didn't cheer or clap along to Jason Eisener's grindhouse celebration? Incredibly, it seemed to be the case: everyone else loved it, howling along to every sleazy, gory, depraved moment, every blood-drenched kill shot, every act of outrageous and violent bad taste. Myself, I thought it was one of the most despicable, mean-spirited, obnoxious, misanthropic, intensely boring and visually ugly pieces of worthless garbage I've ever seen. If I'd been on an aisle I would probably have walked out; in fact, even though I was three or four seats in, I suppose I should have.
The basic thrust of Hobo With A Shotgun is that the unnamed Hobo wanders into Hope Town (nicknamed Scum Town on the graffiti on the Welcome sign) and immediately encounters nothing but violence, abuse and exploitation: the town is run by a crime baron called Drake and his two giggling, psychopathic sons, who openly murder people in the streets as bloodily and messily as possible. When three punks try to rob a pawnbrokers at gunpoint, Hobo grabs a shotgun off the wall and kills all three of them, becoming a hero in the process. Hobo continues dispensing justice "one shell at a time" (as the ads put it) but Drake and his boys push their level of retaliatory violence to ever more extreme heights, in which the mass murder by flamethrower of innocent children on a school bus is probably the worst atrocity.
Despite its roots as an entry in a fake trailer competition at the time of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's Grindhouse project, Hobo With A Shotgun actually looks and feels more like a Troma film, one of Lloyd Kaufman's puerile exercises in taboo-busting shock cinema, than a proper grindhouse movie. It has absolutely no moral values whatsoever: like Troma's films, it draws the line nowhere and anything goes in pursuit of a cheap laugh. Sexual violence, child murder, castration - as bloody and gory as possible, the very definition of gratuitous. The colour scheme is all eye-scorching primary colours, it's incredibly loud and noisy and the whole thing is acted and shot at the level of hysteria.
In the middle of it all is the great Rutger Hauer as the Hobo, and he manages moments - isolated nanoseconds - of quiet dignity. But even he, the star of Blade Runner, Flesh + Blood, Ladyhawke and Nighthawks, can't make this remotely worth watching. (Here's sincerly hoping his upcoming turn as Van Helsing in Argento's 3D Dracula is a product more worthy of him.) Hobo With A Shotgun is a thoroughly wretched film with repugnant and distressing scenes of grotesque violence played as crowd-pleasing entertainment, and frankly I felt more comfortable with the horrors of A Serbian Film - at least that film claimed to have a point to its excesses even if it wasn't entirely successful. Hobo can claim no such defence: its whole ethos is "anything goes", in the guise of recreating the vibe of films that were in reality never a fraction as repulsive. I was bored by it, I was repelled by it, I was depressed and actually insulted by it. And I genuinely don't get the love that every other person in that room felt for the film.
The phrase "the worst movie ever made" is banded about far too frequently, and 99% of the time it's a ridiculous exaggeration. (Watch some Al Adamson and Ted V Mikels films, then look me in the eye and tell me Titanic is worse.) Is Hobo the worst movie I've ever seen? Quite possibly; it's certainly one of the most loathsome and hateful. I detested it.