Jason Eisener Talks Hobo with a Shotgun

Rutger Hauer stars in this bloody Grindhouse spin-off about a vigilant yeg, in theaters May 6th

Hobo with a Shotgun, which spun-off from a trailer created for the theatrical release Grindhouse, is a gleefully gory shot of pure schlock, and one of the best times you will have at the movies this year. It's a shocking, funny, and downright dirty ode to The Toxic Avenger and Street Trash with a little bit of Robocop thrown in for good measure.

80s action icon Rutger Hauer stars as the title character, a train hopping yeg who stumbles into a corrupt town full of sodomizers, baby killers, and drug pushers. Disgusted with the nihilistic anarchy that surrounds his ever-waking moment, this Hobo with a Shotgun decides to take maters into his own hands and clean up the streets one shell casing at a time.

We recently caught up with director Jason Eisener, who makes his feature length debut with this ripe, red blast of goo! Here is our conversation.

After Feast 2, I wasn't expecting anyone to try and out do the infamous baby toss for a number of years. But your child endangerment scenes here kick that shocking moment through the roof. What made you decide to try and one up that film? Because you succeed quite well!

Jason Eisener: What made me want to come in and beat that scene? I don't know. Oh, man! Have you ever seen the movie Goodbye Uncle Tom? It's an insane movie. I saw it at Butt-Numb-Athon a couple of years ago, and there is this moment where these two black guys with wicked shades and huge afros run into this white couple's home. They just start axing them in their beds. They actually pick up a baby out of its carriage by its legs, and the one guy swings it across the room and smashes its head up against the wall. Its one of the most insane things I have ever seen in cinema. But I wasn't really looking at this as a competition, or anything like that!

I know everyone asks how you got Rutger Hauer involved in this movie. For me, I want to know how you got Robb Wells involved, and what has been the difference in reactions between when he shows up on screen in Canada, and when he shows up here in the states?

Jason Eisener: Definitely! Everyone back home, in Canada, knows the Trailer Park Boys. You definitely get the huge cheer when he shows up. American audiences aren't that familiar with Trailer Park Boys, but I think some people recognize Robb Wells here in the States. Basically, Rob Cotterill, who is a producer on Hobo with a Shotgun, had worked on Trailer Park Boys for years and years. Since Season 3. And Robb Wells always wanted to be involved with what we were doing. When he found out we were making Hobo with a Shotgun, he said, "I don't care what you guys want me to do! I am just down! Put me in there!"

So, you decided that you'd rip his head off!

Jason Eisener: Yeah! (Laughs) He worked his ass off on that. Putting that manhole cover around his neck, and having him sit in a manhole for two days? That was wrenching on his neck. After that, he had to walk around in a neck brace for two weeks. But he never complained once! He was a total trooper.

Who got to take the head home? Did you let Robb keep his Robb Wells head?

Jason Eisener: No. We actually rented that head. The Boys are working on another show called The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour. They created a fake head for that show. So we rented the head that they had. We had to send it back, Unfortunatly.

The great thing about Hobo with a Shotgun is, even though it has these gloriously gory, over the top scenes of non-stop mayhem and violence, it also has a few really powerful emotional scenes between Rutger's Hobo and this street hooker that he befriends. Why was it important for you to have these heavier scenes in the film, which give it a certain actual, earned pathos?

Jason Eisener: It needs it, right? If you were just watching...I don't think many people can handle just an hour and a half of non-stop complete mayhem ramped up to one hundred and fifty percent the whole way. It was very important for you to care about at least one of these characters. You have to have some heart and soul in there. Rutger Hauer really connected with that, too. It could have been easy to make the film, and even have the Hobo character be so over the top and crazy. I don't think it would have worked that way. It would have been too ridiculous. It was always important that we keep that character very real, and true, and honest. And let the world that he enters be outrageous and over the top. We needed to keep him the center point of the movie, and watch him enter this world. There are times when he does get a little caught up in it. Its fun to give him a crazy line or a crazy bit of action. If he does it true and honest, good comedy will come from that. I like that, because you are watching this crazy 80-year-old man, who is involved in this insane world. And its almost like he is not in on the joke. He is taking this seriously.

In mentioning the dialogue we hear in this movie, I don't think anyone is going to disagree with me. This has some of the most quotable dialogue of any movie I have seen in at least the last five years. Each line is a beautiful gem in a treasure chest of jewels. How did you guys orchestrate this litany of dumpster poetry?

Jason Eisener: A lot of the lines were things we'd heard on the street back home. Lines we'd heard in the street, or just in weird situations. A lot of it also came from trying to hash out the script, sitting in a room for thirteen hours, drinking a lot of caffeine, going a little bit crazy, and trying to come up with these lines. We'd spend a lot of time on one line, making it special. There were a couple of them that were floating around from things we'd heard in real life. For instance, the dirty cop that is trying to pick up Abby? All of his dirty, greasy lines are actually real lines that we have heard from greasy guys back home. One time, my writer, John Davies, and his dad were working at this wood mill. This old dude parked his car and got out to watch them. When he tried to get back in his car, he locked his keys inside. He asked John and his dad if they would drive him back home. He got in the car, and the first thing he asks John is, "Have you ever slept with a prostitute, kid?" (Laughs) All of those lines you hear from the cop seemed to unfold from this one conversation that John had with this random old dude in a truck with his dad.

That is awesome. I would have never imagined that some of these were real lines heard in real life. Just by sheer coincidence, Blind Justice happened to be on when I got home from watching Hobo With a Shotgun, and I saw Rutger with a fresh set of eyes. Did you ever consider how this movie might reflect back on his own filmography? And did you change anything in the script once you knew you had him?

Jason Eisener: You know? For me, Rutger Hauer is my favorite actor. When I grew up, he was the first actor that caught my attention. He was the first actor where I tracked down every one of his films. First and foremost, I am a film fan. And I want to see more Rutger Hauer movies. When they asked me to write my list of favorite actors who I thought should play the role, he was on the top of that list instantly. I wanted to see a new Rutger Hauer 80s-style action movie. When we wrote the script, we had our ideas about where this character was going to go. But when someone like Rutger Hauer gets involved, he then brings so much more to that character, and its an amazing thing. Just to see your character transform into something more special than you had imagined. It was so amazing to work with him. He brought so many ideas to this character, and he opened this up for us to really transform it, and not stick completely to the script. We could veer off in some ways. We could get weird and crazy with it. And loosen up about it. I love that, and I love being able to let my actors find stuff, and bring stuff to their character. They can create certain aspects of the character on their own, in a way. I love that. I knew, if we ever had the possibility to get him in the movie, there would be an audience like myself, who was really excited to see Rutger Hauer in another movie that was in the style of the movies we all grew up loving, watching him star in them.

I heard you talk before about writing out this dream list. Who else was on that list?

Jason Eisener: One of my favorite actors of all time is a Canadian actor by the name of Stephen McHattie, who starred in this 70s film called Moving Violation. He was also in Bruce McDonald's Pontypool. Which I love. Other actors? Nick Nolte was on that list. (Laughs) Who else? We even had Kris Kristofferson read the script. He passed on it, but he loved it, and his son loved it. I don't think he thought it was good for his image. A lot of people pitched Gary Busey to me. I love Gary Busey! I love watching him. But...I don't know. I have heard the stories about what he is like to work with. I needed someone who would be on my side. Someone who was there to help me make a kickass movie. I don't know that I would have had the freedom that I had with someone like Rutger Hauer.

I wouldn't suppose that you can even imagine anyone else as the Hobo, because he literally comes in and kills it!

Jason Eisener: Yeah, absolutely. We are so lucky that it worked out with him.

I've heard the movie Street Trash come up a lot when people talk about Hobo With a Shotgun. What I remember about that movie is the scene where they are playing keep away with a severed penis. My mom walked in and saw that, and made us turn the TV off. I have never, to this day, seen the rest of that movie. Hobo with a Shotgun feels like that type of movie. I was worried the whole time that my mom was going to come in, see what I was watching, and make me shut it off...

Jason Eisener: For me, I had that moment with The Return Of The Living Dead. It was that moment where they drive the pickax into the zombie's head, and they are all freaking out. And the zombie is still alive. There was so much screaming. I was watching that movie in my bedroom, with my brother. And my mom burst opens the door, "What are you guys watching?" She saw the screen with the man still alive, screaming, with a pickax stuck in his head. And she was totally not impressed. For me, I remember being in elementary school, and being in grade one or two. The older kids in grade six would come to school and tell stories about the movies their dads had rented and let them watch over the weekend. Terminator 2: Judgment Day or Predator. I remember not being able to watch those films, but I built up this imagination as to what those films where about. Then I would go over to a friend's house, wait until mom and dad went to bed, and put on the movie. We'd watch it, and I loved that. Those were fun times, when you got to sneak around and try to check out something you weren't allowed to watch. I hope kids today get to experience that as well. I don't think kids should necessarily...I wouldn't put my kids in front of a screen to watch Hobo with a Shotgun. I have seen kids reviewing the movie on Youtube. When I first click on these video to watch them, my first thought is, "My god, this kid is too young to have seen this movie!" But I have been quite taken back by how the kids get it. They get the material, and they are able to handle it. In some ways, they understand it more than a lot of the adults do. Its cool to see that there are kids out there that can handle that material.

There hasn't been a movie like this in a long time, with the exception of a few Troma releases in the past couple of years.

Jason Eisener: I was nervous about my mom watching the movie for the first time. Me and Rutger Hauer sat behind her at Sundance, and that was the first time she got to watch it. She was quite taken back by it. After the screening, me and Rutger Hauer were getting a thrill, waiting for her. She turned around and gave me the same facial expression she gave me when she'd catch me watching one of those movies. (Laughs)

You draw this weird fine line throughout the film, where one minute you are able to absolutely shock the audience, but two minutes later you have them laughing and cheering. How did you manage to pull that off so eloquently? Because a lot of people fail at finding that balance.

Jason Eisener: I don't know. To be honest, I didn't have a plan of attack for that. All of that is natural. It wasn't like I said, "I am going to make this a crazy moment. But this next scene, I am going to make it so that people are laughing again." I think some of it is luck. I just don't know. That's our style, in some ways. Growing up in high school, I remember when I started to get into film, and I saw Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn for the time. How inspiring that movie was. It's the same way. It will show you something horrific and crazy, but at the same time, it makes you laugh and you have a lot of fun with it. I love finding that idea in cinema.

Now, what is up with this news that you are remaking Riki-Oh?

Jason Eisener: (Laughs) No! Riki-Oh is just an influence on the next film, a little bit. Riki-Oh is definitely an influence on Hobo with a Shotgun in a lot of ways. But there will be more of an influence on the next one. It's a martial arts movie that takes place at a high school. It's about all of the worst kids who have ever gotten kicked out of their high schools, and they are all brought to this really insane high school. Its like Escape from New York in some ways, yet set inside a high school. Its very much in the same vein as Hobo with a Shotgun. It looks at what high school life would be like in that world.

Is it anything like Volcano High? That had a bunch of badass kids fighting in High School...

Jason Eisener: No! I haven't seen it. But I will check out Volcano High.

Well, if you check it out, make sure you see the original. They showed it on MTV, and they replaced all of the voices with rappers. So you have Snoop Dogg's voice coming out of this little blonde Korean kid's mouth. Its messed up...

Jason Eisener: Oh, no! (Laughs) That sounds neat, though. That sounds awesome. I will check that out.

Hobo with a Shotgun is available via "Magnolia On-Demand".