When a hobo enters a tainted town & goes vigilante, heads roll

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Rutger Hauer stars in "Hobo with a Shotgun." (Karim Hussain / Magnet Releasing)

And the 2011 Academy Award for best title goes to  . . . "Hobo With A Shotgun."

Pretty good retro poster, too, with an evocative painting of grizzled, hobo-ized Rutger Hauer firing a blast from his sawed-off weapon.

This could end up as the definitive image for B-movie icon Hauer, although he'll always be the "The Hitcher" to me.

"Hobo" doesn't quite rise to the level of B-movie. It lives in the dungeon beneath the crawl space in the basement of the "The Hitcher" - typical sequences involve disembowelment, dismemberment and kids burned up in a school bus.

Canadian director Jason Eisener has made "Hobo" as a neo-"grindhouse" movie, but it's not a funny homage to the genre, like "Machete" and the Rodriguez/Tarantino joint venture "Grindhouse."

It's the real thing, almost a replica, all of the lurid, saturated crudity of a cheaply made exploitation movie of the '70s or perhaps early 1980s - that would explain the costumes of the sadistic villains, apparently modeled after Tom Cruise circa "Risky Business."

Hauer has the title role as the tramp who rides the rails into a hellish little fiefdom run by a sociopathic mobster and his two bloodthirsty sons.

It's a Town With No Name, and no morals, your usual hellscape of pawn shops, hookers, drug addicts, roaming pods of violent gangs, disinterested or corrupt cops.

The hobo, who takes a (paternal) interest in a feisty prostitute (Molly Dunsworth), is moved to clean up the place, so he acquires a shotgun and goes about his vigilante business.

Eisener answers the call of the genre - he makes the movie flagrantly and irresp[onsibly violent. He goes over the top of the top, and that should be enough to keep you glued (especially with an 86-minute run time), but I have to say it began to feel like . . . overkill.

"Hobo" does have a fairly awesome Thunderdome-ish finale featuring a couple of creatively armored motorcycle thugs, a great example of what can be achieved with a little money and a lot of imagination.

I'd take the last 10 minutes over the latest Hollywood CGI megabore any day. "Hobo," along with movies like "Kill The Irishman" and "13 Assassins," feels like a gritty response to the brain-deadening FX fakery of the modern shlockbuster. Somebody's going to find the happy medium, and make about a billion dollars.

Hobo With a Shotgun

Directed by Jason Eisener. With Robb Wells, Brian Downey, Jeremy Akerman, Molly Dunsworth, Gregory Smith, David Brunt, Mark A. Owen, Nick Bateman, Michael Ray Fox, Rutger Hauer. Distributed by Magnolia Releasing.

Running time: 1 hours, 26 minutes.

Parent's guide: Unrated ().