Hardware (1990)

Author: Brett H.
Submitted by: Brett H.   Date : 2009-10-15 19:42

Written and directed by: Richard Stanley
Starring: Dylan McDermott, Stacey Travis, John Lynch, Iggy Pop & Lemmy

Reviewed by: Brett H.

“Why doesn’t he piss in the street like everybody else?”

Severin made its mark in the horror world by unearthing vast quantities of foreign exploitation cinema that had been largely overlooked and undiscovered over the passage of time. Today, Severin pops its horror/sci-fi cherry by unleashing the vicious M.A.R.K.-13 onto the world. A long out of print film with a ferociously devout fan base, Hardware is also the company’s first horror flick to be unveiled on the high definition Blu-ray format. With an obscene amount of special features on a 50GB disc, does this robotic release manage to stand out and schlock amidst a library of impossibly sadistic and twisted cinema and put horror fans in the zone?

Moses (Dylan McDermott) is a scrap-metal scavenger who treks the wasteland known only as “the zone” for junk fragments. Along with his buddy Shades (John Lynch), Moe buys the remnant of a battered android from a mysterious stranger (who found them in the movie’s best scene) and gifts them to his girlfriend, Jill (Stacey Travis), who turns the pieces into abstract metallic art. Little do they know, this gift will soon turn into disaster as it turns out to be a portion of the M.A.R.K.-13; an artificially intelligent robot that ultimately repairs itself into an unabashed killing machine. Does Moses & his gang have the power to stop this discontinued and once-buried bot, or will the take-no-bullshit chemical injecting machine senselessly slaughter the world?

Not being a science fiction fan to begin with, I didn’t enjoy Hardware as much as I am confident many others out there will. Director Richard Stanley sure knows how to keep things pretty though, as his post-apocalyptic terrain is beautiful, yet chilling. The film’s colourful visuals are easily its high point, and I fully understand why Severin chose to get this one out there in high definition right from the get-go. If you’ve seen Hardware on a bootleg dub, you really haven’t seen the film at all. The plot is very slasher-esque in that it takes a long time to get going (admittedly, still quicker than most slashers, however) and packs a wallop in most of its few kill scenes, where blood spatters and bodies are left tattered. Unfortunately, I didn’t find this tiny super-killer android to be particularly menacing. How could I considering the leading lady manages to fend it off with a mere baseball bat?

There are a couple enjoyable cameos with Iggy Pop lending his voice as a maniacal disc jockey (I see in the future, DJs are no less annoying) and Lemmy from Motorhead pops up as a buoyant “ferry driver” who putters around pukey, toxic waters in his rigged up floating cab. Social commentary is abundant in the slap-in-the-face bad cyberpunk way with stars & stripes being painted on the aborted military device’s mask when used as art and the fact that humanity will fall to the machine and corrupt government may as well be stencilled on the screen during any given scene. Although I give the film a lot of flack, certain scenes do set the tempo and tone perfectly, but not consistently enough with an ample pacing to culminate into anything other than a rather mindless way to kill 93 minutes. The visual excitement is like a spoonful of sugar to make the drab story go down gently.

Released simultaneously on DVD and Blu-ray in true collector’s editions, fans of Hardware will be getting hard reading this paragraph. Included is the full director’s cut in clear, glorious 1080p widescreen (no visible DNR!) with a rocking, obnoxious 5.1 track (not HD, but still very pleasing). The special features include the original short that the film was based on, a couple other Stanley shorts, audio commentary with the director, deleted and extended scenes and an almost hour long documentary featuring interviews with the cast and crew. This amounts to many, many hours of entertainment and Severin truly deserves a pat on the back for treating a genre film with such terrific audio/video and supplemental material. No, I’m not a giant fan of Hardware, but the package from Severin is a steal of a deal in spite of it all for collectors of balls-to-the-wall, loaded to the nut DVD/BD releases. Rent it!

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