Saturday, April 9, 2011


Hobo With a Shotgun (2011)

-Jason Eisener (the underground filmmaker behind films such as Treevenge and The Teeth Beneath) directed and co-wrote this insanely over the top revenge filled gore fest bloodbath. Starring John Ryder himself, Rutger Hauer, in a perfectly casted role as the title character.

For the people who are not aware of the background of how this film came to be what it is. It won BEST TRAILER for the Grindhouse contest back in 2007 when Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino were promoting their exploatation saga. Few years later it finally was able to be made into a full length feature.

Now the past few years it has seemed that exploatation films have really been re-discovered and have been brought back to life. With films such as Hell Ride, Black Dynamite, Piranha 3D, Machete (which went down the same path as Hobo did, starting out with a fake trailer...), and of course Planet Terror/Death Proof. Most of them usually fall right on their ass and fail but then others actually totally succeed and reach out to B-Movie loving audiences in a tasteful way, like the surprisingly successful Piranha 3D.

With Hobo however, I felt it to be a bit of a bomb in my eyes. The film has a terrific concept though, centering on an old beat down hobo (Hauer) who returns to his hometown, only to see it now filled with even more violence, including corrupt cops, broken down hookers, junkies, pimps, and pedophiles dressed as Santa Clause, in which he decides to begin taking out with his trusty pump action shotgun that he finds at a pawn shop. All the while forming a unique bond with a hooker he rescues from a sleazy police officer trying to rape her.

Now if you watch the new, unrated, uncut trailer for this film it practically makes you cream in your pants. I mean, it just looks like a borderline masterpiece (for exploatation films of course...). I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Needless to say, I was unfortunately disappointed with the outcome. Now I am one of the few people who really didn't like this film. The majority of the audiences went insane over it. My main problem was the fantasy element. It was WAY too over the top and sort of just stupid with it's low brow humor. That was their intention, but I just don't think it was executed well. I mean, don't get me wrong, the violence is gorgeous. BUCKETS AND BUCKETS AND BUCKETS OF FAKE BLOOD!!! Almost as much as Piranha 3D. And I truly love vigilante, revenge stories and really appreciated their overall message, being pro-hobo. That homeless people are just as human as you or I. That element I connected with. But it was just a little too over the top for my liking. That silly fantasy world can get stale after a while. I just wish it'd be a little more realistic, (in the vein of Ms. 45 or Death Proof) but again, that's not what Eisener intended it to be. I mean, the film definitely has its pros.

The deaths are extremely creative (the bumper car head squash, the manhole incident in the beginning...), the gore is terrific, and Rutger is wonderful. So if your looking to be heavily entertained and taken away from reality for 86 minutes and absolutely love gore and fantasy violence/characters, then this film is for you. But just be in mind, that it's basically Superman rated NC-17.




"I see filmmaking as a business and pity anyone who regards it as an art form."

-Hershell Gordon Lewis

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Dream Home
-Ho-Cheung Pang co-wrote (along with Kwok Cheung Tsang and Chi-Man Wan) and directed this Cantonese bloody gore fest which became sort of an underground cult sensation at Tribeca 2010. I remember when I was volunteering there, I was trying to get tickets for it (but unfortunately it was sold out) and all I was hearing from gore hounds was of how violent and disurbing it was. I recently saw this film and yes, it was extremely heavy on the gallons of blood and fake intestines, but something was missing. A focused story line.

For those who have not seen this film, it centers on a young twenty-something woman, Cheng-Lai (played perfectly by Josie Ho), living in Hong Kong during the economy destruction, who all her life has had this unhealthy lifelong obsession with this 'dream home' apartment in the Victoria Harbor that she promised to her dying Grandfather, when she was a little girl, would own some day. Now in her late 20's and working as a professional telemarketer, making a living being hung up on by uninterested buyers. She is already in major debt, working a second job, and quickly watching her dreams of owning the apartment vanish. Which eventually causes this woman (already a little unstable to begin with) to mentally snap. Cheng-Lai begins to wipe out her competition of the rich as well as her would-be neighbors once the deal falls through of her ownership.

The killings are incredibly fulfilling and extremely creative. Makes Hostel almost look like Pee-Wee's Playhouse. I liked as well as disliked how the story was told for this slasher picture.

It's told completely out of sequence, starting with her murdering a security guard in the 'dream home' apartment building, then going back to her late 20's life style before she cracks. Then shifting in flashbacks of her when she was a little girl dealing with her family that are having their own debt issues and having to almost sacrifice her education in order to support her family.

However, what I DIDN'T like about the storytelling was how unfocused and scattered it tended to be. The flashbacks and cross periods worked to a degree, but after a while, they got a little too out of control and I didn't understand what was going on half the time. And then before I know it, BAM! Some chick gets her eyeball poked out and a pregnant woman is suffocated.

It is a very horrific, disturbing picture (Only the Asians...) and definitely deserved all the hype it was receiving at Tribeca last year. For gore fans, I certainly recommend it. For film snobs, maybe. Maybe not (luckily I am in between).

I mean, the cinematography's incredible. The acting's outstanding. It's just the direction and outline that tends to go off the handlebars at times. I found myself just waiting for the next death. But the film still has more of a heart than most slasher films. Most slasher/horror pictures you see nowadays just seem to treat its antagonist like some sick, pathetic individual (which, don't get me wrong, SURELY ARE!) that we can't wait to see dead. Which can work at times, but I found it far more interesting and refreshing for this film, that the main star was the protagonist and the antagonist. It's almost sort of sweet. How she made this promise to her Grandfather. And with the economy crashing down on her so badly, you sympathize with her and in a sick way, understand her motives.

But I gotta tell ya, this picture truly made you open your eyes and understand how twisted the world is nowadays and how competitive people can be, that they could actually stoop to murdering people to get a house to live in. As they always say... times are tough.




"My films are the stories of people who place the blame for their actions on others because they refuse to take on the blame themselves." - Chan-wook Park