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"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 won'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."
—The Hobo, to a group of newborn babies
The 2011 film Hobo With A Shotgun started out as a fake movie trailer in Grindhouse, but thanks to independent filmmakers from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, it became the second Grindhouse trailer (after Machete) to get converted into a full film.
An elderly, nameless hobo (Rutger Hauer) arrives in the city of Hope Town, a run-down dystopian sprawl somewhere in America. The Hobo only wants to eke out a humble life in the city, but thanks to The Drake (the depraved crime boss who controls the city), urban decay runs rampant and violence has become a way of life. Tension builds as The Hobo tries to co-exist with the city-wide corruption, but when circumstances push him over the edge, he picks up a twelve-gauge and delivers bloody justice to the city's criminals.
While the film's story makes for an overly broad — and overly grotesque — pastiche of the Vigilante Justice sub-genre of exploitation cinema (represented by films such as Death Wish), Hauer contrasts the outlandishly violent story with his subtle performance — or, at least, as subtle a performance he can turn in while playing an old train-hopping hobo battling some of the most ludicrously evil characters ever conceived.
Hobo with a Shotgun contains examples of the following tropes:
- Abnormal Ammo: One of the members of the Plague, Grinder, carries a spear gun that fires a short spear up into the ceiling, pulling along a short rope tied around any of their unfortunate victims' necks that quickly strangles them to death, essentially being a "gallows gun".
- Abusive Parents: Drake to Ivan.
- Actor Allusion: The original actor who played the hobo in the Grindhouse trailer wields a shotgun in the final confrontation (he's a crooked cop now).
- Affectionate Parody: Of exploitation films, especially those focusing on revenge stories.
- Awesome but Impractical: One of The Plague members uses a harpoon gun as a weapon, which, given the outstanding amount of guns available in the market, would be quite an impractical choice in itself. As an added bonus, he doesn't actually stick the harpoon into people and prefers to use it to hang them.
- Awesome Yet Practical: the titular shotgun.
- Badass: The Hobo.
- Badass Biker: The Plague drive motorcycles.
- Badass Bystander: Subverted by a random doctor, who flips out and opens fire on the Plague when they first burst into his hospital. He gets gutted for his troubles.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Abby gets a nasty neck wound after she's almost decapitated, and later she loses a hand. Her face doesn't suffer one bit.
- Berserk Button: The hobo doesn't like people calling Abby a prostitute, having deluded himself into believing that she's a teacher.
- Big Bad: Drake.
- Bittersweet Ending/Downer Ending: Which one is decided by the viewer. Hobo gives his life to kill Drake and ensure that the citizens who have come to his aid fire the first shots on the corrupt police force. Abby is alive but has lost a hand and spends the end of the film hysterically screaming, and the remaining Plague member claims she'll be a member of them soon. The town may live or die in the ensuing violence, but either way the tyranny of Drake's crime family has ended.
- The alternate ending turns Abby into one of the Plague, just as Rip promised.
- Blood From the Mouth
- Blood Spattered Innocents: Oh, Abby.
- Bottomless Magazines: We never see the Hobo buy any shells, yet he never seems to run out. We do see him reload... once.
- Bus Full of Innocents: Slick torches a bus full of elementary school children with a flame thrower as a way of declaring war on Hobo. Then brings the charred skeleton of one of them onto the evening news to make the declaration directly.
- The same bus comes for him as he's dragged off to Hell.
- The Brute: Ivan.
- Chekhov's Gun: The Lawnmower, of all things.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Everyone swears to the point of absurdity. Even emergency room nurses are screaming, "Live, you fucking whore!"
- Combat Pragmatist: As a person who is forced to make do with whatever he can find every day, Hobo has a talent for this. He wields his own walking stick as an effective bludgeon, weaponizes his savings in a sock and incapacitates Ivan by electrocuting him with a toaster.
- Cool Car: Drake's sons drive around in a Bricklin SV-1.
- Crapsack World
- Defictionalization: Started as a trailer in Grindhouse.
- Dirty Cop: There is exactly one non-corrupt cop in the movie, which is lampshaded in lines that made it in from the fake trailer:
Rookie Cop: At least he's only killing the dirty cops.
- Dragged Off to Hell: Slick.
- The Dragon: Though at first they seem like Co-Dragons, Slick quickly proves more pivotal to the plot, wanting to become a Dragon Ascendant.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Drake to Slick. Not so much for Ivan, though.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The eponymous hobo is never named; He even shows up in the credits as "hobo."
- Evil Duo: Slick and Ivan. Then later, the hitmen Rip and Grinder, a.k.a. The Plague.
- Evil Is Hammy: Drake and sons, as best exemplified in the first seven minutes wherein they execute Drake's brother in broad daylight with a passionate speech. Drake even dances on occasion.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: He's a hobo... with a shotgun.
- Facing the Bullets One-Liner: We're taking a car ride to hell, and you're riding shotgun!
- The Faceless: Rip and Grinder, aka the Plague, whose faces are never seen beneath their metal armor.
- Finger Damage: Severely to Abby near the end of the film.
- Foreshadowing: The hobo's borderline-nonsensical parable to Abby about bears clawing the faces off people who get too close. It wasn't actually torn off, but...
- Forging Scene: Also involving the lawnmower.
- George Lucas Throwback: To old 1970s and 1980s Exploitation Film.
- Groin Attack: Repeatedly.
- Perhaps most notably when the hobo does this to Slick during a fight, well after a fight, he kills Slick by shooting his prick off.
- Gorn: Everywhere. Everywhere.
- Harpoon Gun: Rip's choice of weapon, used to great effect when they storm the hospital.
- Hobo: With a shotgun.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Abby, who apparently took to prostitution due to lack of opportunities in her crapsack town.
- Hope Spot: About halfway through the film Abby and the Hobo make plans to leave town and start a lawnmower business. Yeah, that doesn't work out.
- Improvised Weapon: Abby uses her arm bone against Drake, after her hand is shredded off.
- During the news program hijack by Slick and Ivan, Ivan kills the anchor using an ice skate like a throwing knife.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: One newspaper headline reads "Hobo stops begging - demands change."
- Infant Immortality: Averted hard, when Slick torches a school bus full of kids when they say they love hobos.
- It Got Worse: If at any point you think that this movie has gotten as offensive as it could possibly get, light up a cigarette 'cause unless the credits are rolling it's about to get worse... a lot worse.
- Karma Houdini: By the end, Rip has walked away without paying for any of the gruesome murders he's perpetrated.
- Kill the Poor: Invoked by the villains as a mean to kill the vigilante hobo. They incites the public to do the dirty work, under the promise that not doing so will result in the villains killing a lot of children.
- Lyrical Dissonance: The end credits are from a Canadian children's cartoon.
- Moral Event Horizon: It's a lot harder to see Slick as the Draco in Leather Pants after he incinerates a bus full of children.
- Narm: Like all good grindhouse tributes, this is invoked. The hobo often goes on nonsensical ice cream koans, dramatic scenes have bizarre dialogue, and... interesting faces are made.
- Naughty Tentacles: The Plague apparently have a giant tentacled creature living in their castle.
- No Name Given: The hobo.
- Offing the Offspring: Drake shoots Ivan when Abby tries to take him hostage.
- Pædo Hunt: One of the rogues gallery of scum Hobo puts down is a ludicrously disgusting man dressed in a Santa Claus costume who openly preys upon and kidnaps small children in broad daylight.
- Parental Favoritism: By this point rather obviously, Drake favors Slick over Ivan.
- Pet the Dog: Rip lights a match for the Hobo to have a smoke during his confinement by The Plague.
- Playing Against Type: Gregory Smith, who's best known for playing rebellious but good-intentioned teenagers (in Small Soldiers and Everwood) as Complete Monster Slick.
- Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner:
- "I'm making a Citizen's Arrest."
- "I'm gonna sleep in your bloody carcasses TONIGHT!"'
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Actually not very common in the movie, but used to great effect in the finale.
- Psycho for Hire: The Plague, a pair of contract killers who encase themselves in metal armor, live in a castle and have some sort of giant tentacle monster as a pet. They also apparently killed Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, Charles Darwin, and Jesus.
- Rain of Blood: A woman strips and dances in it. And it's in the first seven minutes!
- Recycled Soundtrack: The opening credits music, "Liebesthema", was used forty years earlier as the theme to the movie Mark of the Devil, and the end credits music, "Run With Us", was first used as the theme to the cartoon The Raccoons.
- Refuge in Audacity: A new trope needs to be invented for how far past the line this movie goes. Refuge in audactiy doesn't even begin to describe it.
- Refuge in Vulgarity: Yeah, that too. For example, Ivan getting fried alive by the hobo: "HE MADE ME CUM!!!"
- Shaming the Mob: Done by Abby when facing down a mob that had been torching hobos and killing them earlier. They come back to destroy the police force in the ending.
- Shotguns Are Just Better: As the hobo's hell-raising antics demonstrate.
- Shout-Out: The Plague dragging a coffin behind their bikes is similar to Undertaker's schtick.
- Skeleton Government: One can wonder why the National Guard hasn't arrived to evacuate everyone and burn the city to the ground.
- Title Drop: "Maybe you'll end up like me, a hobo with a shotgun. Maybe you'll do better."
- Took a Level In Badass: Abby, who singlehandedly kills Grinder and nearly puts the Big Bad down for the count, and saves the hobo just before he's decapitated... with her goddamn forearm bone.
- Tragic Hero: Hobo lives an incredibly harsh life and is cruelly abused by society, despite being a genuinely kind and responsible man. His just yet deranged bouts of vigilante justice are heavily implied to be a result of Alzheimers, and he makes the ultimate sacrifice in the name of justice and protecting those he cares for.
- The Unfavorite: Ivan just doesn't measure up to Slick even when he's the only one left.
- Vader Breath: Grinder, of The Plague.
- Vigilante Man: The Hobo. It takes him some time, however, as he does the first half of the movie doing nothing when atrocities happen right in front of him.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Ivan, who is constantly demeaned, compared to Slick. He's eventually shot for it.
- When All You Have Is a Hammer: Well, shotgun in this case.
Abby: You can't solve all the world's problems with a shotgun!
- When Life Gives You Lemons: Drake spins the phrase in his own hideous idiom to encourage his son.
Drake: When life gives you razor blades... you make a baseball bat covered in razor blades!
- He then gleefully demonstrates this concept by eviscerating a prisoner with just such a weapon.
- World Gone Mad: Or at least, the entire the fucking city.
- Wretched Hive: Hopetown is an impossibly violent and depraved place.
- Yandere: The Big Bad has a gang of groupies who run around in bikinis and enjoy violence just as much as he does. One girl dances in the Rain of Blood caused by Drake's execution of his brother, and later, they cheerfully beat on a human pinata for no particular reason.
- You Kill It, You Bought It: After Abby kills Grinder, Rip says she has to take his place. The Hobo tells him he won't be doing that, and he walks off without a word. However, in the alternate ending, she's converted into Grinder's replacement.