Hobo With A Shotgun takes its cues from exploitation movies of a generation ago. Director Jason Eisner tells Free Press Houston in a phone interview that he wanted to make a “graffiti western with no rules and classic themes.” So yes there was thought given to “80s prime colors.”

HWAS stars Rutger Hauer as the titular hobo in a town without pity. A powerful crime lord (Drake, played for keeps by Brian Downey) rules the streets and uses vagrants for cruel games of death. Imagine arterial spray on a grand scale. The thing about HWAS is that as soon as you think you’ve got it figured out, Eisner finds new ways to pique your interest. This includes corrupt police, whores with a heart for trouble and a grand finale that becomes a street war between the haves and the have-nots.

Eisner originally made Hobo as a trailer for the Canadian release of Grindhouse. That Tarantino/Rodriguez collaboration featured other trailers like Machete, which itself morphed into a pretty cool film. For domestic audiences the original Hobo trailer eventually found its way onto the DVD release of Grindhouse.

Eisner starts the film with another hobo played by noted Canadian actor Robb Wells (Trailer Park Boys). Drake’s method of extermination involves placing a manhole cover around his victim’s head. While this makeshift manacle finds its way around Hauer’s head it was Wells who was the first to be filmed that way. For a scene where Drake’s two sons drop Wells, with his head stuck inside the manhole cover, down into the actual hole in the street Eisner used clever angles and editing to make it look like Wells drops all the way down the hole. “We shot it 30 times, Wells had to wear a neck brace for a week,” says Eisner. There was a learning curve on how to shoot the prop-around-the-neck so by the time the production got to Rutger’s scenes with the manhole cover the task was much easier.

Drake’s sons wear sunglasses with a slick 80s style haircut. In fact they both look just like Tom Cruise in Risky Business. “Holy shit,” exclaims Eisner “Everyone was telling me that about Risky Business. I never saw the film until about a month ago. When I saw DVD I had a good laugh, yes they look just like Cruise on the cover.”

Hobo With A Shotgun contains a lot of movie gore and is a perfect midnight movie, which is where it will find a berth this weekend at the River Oaks Theater.

— Michael Bergeron