Hobo with a Shotgun and Other Cult Classics

It was Jake’s idea to watch Hobo with a Shotgun last night, although I’d heard of it previously on our Charleston trip in June, because my brother—the best source for bad horror—told us about it. The synopsis gets right to the point: “A homeless vigilante blows away crooked cops, pedophile Santas, and other scumbags with his trusty pump-action shotgun.” It’s based on a movie trailer, written by director Jason Eisener, shown in between segments of 2007’s Grindhouse.

To understand Hobo with a Shotgun, you have to watch it. It reminded me of well-filmed seventies porn with Peter Jackson’s sense of horror thrown in. Eisener took his cue from Jackson’s early films, Dead Alive and Bad Taste, using more fake blood than Bad Taste (if you can imagine that) but less than Dead Alive. Eisener also learned something from good old Sam Raimi, of Evil Dead immortality, in his close-up scream shots and a montage that was practically stolen from Army of Darkness.

Notice the list of movies included in the above paragraph, including Hobo with a Shotgun. They each have one thing in common. Fake blood? Well, yeah, but I’m talking about cult classic status.

"Gimme some sugar, baby."
My preferred definition for a “cult classic” is from “These are films that die out quickly at the box office, but retain some special place in our cultural vocabulary, either because these films are ridiculous or because some small group of people remains obsessed with the film.”

I have my list of obsessions, and several of them made Entertainment Weekly’s list of “Top 50 Cult Classics.” The Rocky Horror Picture Show is an obvious first choice. It’s really not a good movie … to an outsider. But to those of us who have been with Dr. Frank-N-Furter since (in my case) seventh grade, his antics never get old. Every Halloween (let’s be honest: every rainy day), you can find me watching clips of this movie or listening to the soundtrack. I am an official cult member.

Another movie that made the EW list: Dazed and Confused. This movie isn’t as bad as Rocky Horror. (For instance, even my mom likes this one.) However, it isn’t, like, totally awesome, dude, unless you were a student when it came out. It helps, too, if you were a high school party animal, because let’s face it: we can all relate to driving around <insert your childhood home here> in a parent’s car looking for the next kegger. Cult member, I am.

Re-Animator, also on EW’s list, was a late addition to my cult repertoire, introduced to me by aforementioned movie freak, Matt Dobie. This is based on an HP Lovecraft short story, but it’s of course given an eighties movie twist. You’re going to love it, especially the bit about the dead cat.

Hobo with a Shotgun already has its own following, because it is so blatantly over the top and gross, it has to be a cult classic. It earned immediate membership based solely on pints of fake blood use alone, but it wasn’t really a “good” movie. Entertaining, sure, but silly and uber-nutty? Yep. So what is it about cult classics that we love so much? What makes us obsess over them and dress up like characters from the films every Halloween?

For me, it’s the weirdness factor. I get sick of watching movies that could actually happen, made clear to me in my love for Cowboys & Aliens. I love Rocky Horror because it’s a perfect spooky Halloween movie with lots of sex and drugs thrown in (not to mention alien transvestites), but it’s not real. I love Dazed and Confused because no high school party was ever that good and we never smoked that much weed. I love Re-Animator because … did I mention the ZOMBIE CAT?

I’m not going to become a Hobo with a Shotgun cult member, but hey, when the hobo tells a guy he’s about to take a car ride to hell and “You’re riding shotgun” right before he blows the guy away with a shotgun, it’s classic stuff.

I love my cult classics. I may be a freak, but I bet you are, too. We all have our weird movie that we have to watch year after year after year. It may not be a good movie, but it means something to somebody, and that earns cult status in my book.

"That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I keep gettin' older; they stay the same age."

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