Hardware is a perfect candidate for the label of
Low budget, not a massive hit at the box office, it never quite entered
the broader public consciousness the way that other cyborg franchise,
starring Arnold whats-his-face,
did. Maybe it was too obscure, too violent or too raunchy to be
appreciated by cinema-goers. But this is a movie that was always going
to attract a following; it has a story pulled from the pages of 2000 AD
(Just like Judge Dredd if youre
still in the dark.) It has an eclectic and energetic soundtrack,
including Ministry and Motorhead. It has Iggy Pop as a zealous radio
announcer. It boasts some truly inspired writing, direction and lighting
effects, and in my opinion its
a cut above James Camerons
bound to start some controversy!)
Hardware is set on a future planet Earth, although it looks more like
Mars thanks to a protracted nuclear bombardment. Most of the worlds
population is crammed into a few giant cities, the only habitable places
left, and one particular government is trying to convince its citizens
to give up their right to procreation.
Enter into this setting Moses Baxter (Dylan McDermott) a wandering
opportunist who acquires a derelict robot skull in a shady transaction.
He takes the skull to his artist girlfriend Jill (Stacey Travis,)
thinking that she might be able to incorporate it into her latest
sculpture. Eventually the robot, actually a Mark 13 combat model, comes
back to life, and re-assembles itself from the junk in Jills
apartment. Now fully aware and on the rampage, the droid sets out to
trap Jill in her home and to kill any would-be rescuers.
The deep, seedy voice of the narrator in the films
trailer wants you to believe that this is standard early nineties
horror/action schlock, and emphasizes the sexual depravity and the
excessive violence on offer. While those things are there, theyre
not the main drawcard. Perhaps if Hardware had been marketed slightly
better upon its release, wed
be seeing it on a lot more Sci-fi/ horror top ten lists today.
The thing that makes this movie is the believability of its world,
coupled with the personality of its characters. A lot of care and effort
has gone into the construction of the various sets, and theyre
really tipped over the edge by some crazy lighting effects.
While the films
antagonist is menacing enough in his own right, the tension owes more to
the powerful synthetic soundtrack and some clever editing than any
The first part of the movie crawls at a snails
pace, and then it suddenly explodes in a frenzy of sound, colour and
violence. When one particular character dies, the movie stops being a
horror and takes on operatic overtones- its
surreal, insane and transfixing all at once.
Audio and Video:
I first watched this movie on a battered old VHS tape from my local
video store, and I was concerned that the transition to Blu-ray might
make the picture look too crisp and clean. While you can see the sweat
drip out of every pore on the actors
faces, there is still some graininess to the picture, which only
enhances its personality.
The soundtrack has scrubbed up nicely, and sounds super-sharp.
As well as the standard commentary, trailer and deleted scenes, this
Blu-ray comes packed with a handful of other short works by Director
Richard Stanley. The image and sound quality is very low in most of
these, and they dont
bear much relevance to the main feature- its
best to give them a miss.
They say its
a fine line between madness and genius. In Hardware, youre
never quite sure what side of the line youre
raw, disturbing and engaging at the same time- an underrated classic
that deserves to move forward in your consciousness.
courtesy of Umbrella Entertainment and available to purchase at