Hardware [VHS]
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Product Description

It's Christmas in the tech noir slum of the post-apocalyptic future, and scrap-metal sculptor Stacey Travis gets a present she'll never forget. Scavenger boyfriend Dylan McDermott returns from the wastelands with the insectoid robot head of a killing machine. In no time it whirs to life and builds itself a gizmo-laden body out of handy appliances to continue its single-minded destruction of the human race, one warm body at a time. Director Richard Stanley, something of a scavenger himself, plunders everything from The Terminator, Blade Runner, and The Road Warriorto Short Circuit (the spidery construct resembles a demonic Number 5) for his violent flesh-vs.-metal survival thriller. Shot in sun-blasted orange and sweltering red, it's a triumph of style, set design, and grunge aesthetics over story, driven by a pounding techno score by Simon Boswell and punctuated by splattering gore. --Sean Axmaker

Customer Reviews:

  • Beware "Uncut Red Edition" DVD
    This is a GREAT film, borrowing from BLADE RUNNER, THE TERMINATOR, MAD MAX, and slasher films -- but with its own unique story and style. Beautiful cinematography, wonderful soundtrack (with both classical opera and industrial/punk rock scores).

    I won't relate the story, as other reviewers have done so. BUT if you're buying the "Uncut Red Edition," there are some issues you should be aware of.

    * This "Eurocult" DVD claims it's uncut, "unlike American DVD and VHS editions." Not true. Yes, this Uncut Red Edition may be uncut, but it contained no scenes that I hadn't seen in my American tape edition. Maybe some tapes were cut, but not all.

    * More importantly, this DVD is FULL SCREEN. I'd hoped to see HARDWARE's beautiful cinematography in its wide screen glory, but it was not to be.

    Why go to the trouble of releasing an "uncut" edition -- then sell if full screen? Maybe because ...

    * This DVD looks to be STRUCK FROM A TAPE. Some colors are faded, as from an old tape. But the real giveaway is that there are occasional black glitches, like video dropouts.

    Yes, that's right. This Eurocult "Uncut Red Edition" looks to be struck from an old, full screen videotape.

    I'm still glad I got the DVD (though pricey at $20). I wish someone would release an "uncut" digitally remastered wide screen edition of this great film.

    This is a five-star film, but I'm deducting one star for the crappy DVD....more info
  • Starts off with such a bang, then falls off a cliff.
    Hardware (Richard Stanley, 1990)

    After being surprisingly impressed with Dust Devil and a couple of Richard Stanley's recent documentaries, I finally went back to the movie that started it all, the surprise smash hit Hardware. And I have to say that Dust Devil must have shot my expectations through the roof, because what a disappointment this movie is. Everyplace Dust Devil sparks with originality and outright creepiness, Hardware just sits there limp and cliched. Do you remember (lord, I hope you don't) a godawful Jean-Claude Van Damme flick that came out right around the same time called "I" Come in Peace? So many things about this movie reminded me of that, not least the disappointment at how a pretty nifty science fiction conceit just got pounded into the dust. (In my defense, at the time, Van Damme was not as much a film-world joke as he is today.) And you know what the worst part is? The first ten minutes set us up for the best science fiction movie ever.

    Picture it: Earth, sometime in the post-apocalypse future. The city is entertained by a manic radio DJ named Angry Bob, played by Iggy Pop. As we open, a guy in a gas mask is wandering through a desert of red sand in the film's most beautifully-shot sequence. We cut to two guys, Moses Baxter (Dylan McDermott--yes, Dylan McDermott in a science fiction movie!) and his trusty sidekick Shades (In the Name of the Father's John Lynch), an entrepreneurial type who, as we first see them, is trying to convince Baxter that the insane risk they'd be taking in travelling to the now bombed out city of New York would be well worth the rewards they could reap by bringing back such things as kitchen appliances. Yes, folks, the world after a nuclear war is a beautiful thing. Moses and Shades are on their way to the local pawnshop to see Alvy (Mack the Knife's Mark Northover in one of his few screen appearances), a guy who deals in, shall we say, less than legal stuff scavenged form the wastes. Baxter gives him a sack of stuff and he heads into the back to price it. That's when the nomad from the first scene appears, now sans gas mask. He looks kind of familiar, but it's after Baxter addresses him and he speaks that it hits you. It's Carl McCoy! Carl McCoy, the leader of the best band in the universe, Fields of the Nephilim, in his only screen appearance! He and Baxter haggle over a piece McCoy (credited only as the Nomad) picked up in the Glass Flats, which seems to have been some sort of old manufacturing area; the head of a robot. Baxter buys it from the Nomad for fifty credits (which, it seems, is a small fortune in this economy; Baxter gets ten from Alvy for his entire bag) as a Christmas present for his girlfriend, Jill (Stacey Travis, recently of The Great Buck Howard), a sculptor. The Nomad leaves just as Alvy gets back, and the scene is over, as we've set up the movie. And then... the Nomad is gone. We never see him again. Nor Alvy. In fact, most of the rest of the film takes place in Jill's apartment. You see, the robot head was the prototype of a very unstable, and very dangerous, weapon called the M.A.R.K.13, which is capable of both repairing itself and utilizing other materials to power itself. So when Jill welds it into a sculpture...

    At this point, the movie becomes a standard survival-horror flick with science fiction elements. And, really, it's not bad for a standard survival-horror flick with science fiction elements, but the first ten minutes of this film are so well-done that the final eighty being standard is bound to cause a major disappointment. I mean, everything about that scene is perfectly done, and it's the things Stanley did in that scene that he managed to pull off for the whole movie in Dust Devil. The cinematography is stunning, and when the movie shifts to constant interior scenes, it goes away almost entirely. Simon Boswell's music is great (when Iggy Pop isn't spinning old Iggy records, of course), and it does stay great throughout, but it's got that whole wide-open-spaces feel to it that works so well for blasted-out deserts, and not so well for cramped spaces. Two great actors used for a single scene? There are other cameos like this sprinkled throughout, most notably Motorhead vocalist Lemmy Kilmister as a taxi driver (who, of course, blasts Motorhead). The banter between Baxter and Alvy is quick and funny, which obviously isn't the kind of script you keep going with when you get into survival-horror mode. Etc.

    If you don't mind the full price of a rental just to see the first ten minutes of a movie, by all means rent it. Or if you like survival-horror flicks and you've seen everything you've got a dozen times, you'll also find a lot to enjoy here. It's obviously a must for Fields of the Nephilim (or Iggy Pop) fans. Everyone else, if you catch it on late-night cable, watch it, but don't go out of your way. **
    ...more info
  • great movie but where is the DVD?
    This movie is a great cyberpunk movie. Too bad it's not out on DVD!!!...more info
  • A gift.
    Real fun... at a time when less was expected... real fear... now the joke has gone unheeded....more info
  • The worst movie I have ever seen
    I wish I could select "0 star." On a friend's suggestion, I saw this movie in the theater in 1990 and the memory was such that it took many years of therapy to be able to cope in society once more...

    I realize that hard-core sci fi fans do not care much for realism or continuity but let's consider the plot here (SPOILER alert).

    The movie starts out in this hot red desert like world. We're not sure if there's been some apocalypse or it's just your run- of-the-mill sci fi dystopia. No explanation is given for why some things look like a wasteland and some things are built up and modern.

    Moses is a Marine or some kind of soldier but he never seems to report for duty. He gets this robotic head from a scrap dealer for his live-in girlfriend Jill, who's an artist. They talk about children and Moses says that he's "given up" on that idea a long time ago. There's the suggestion that some calamity has made people sterile. Despite this, I seem to remember a reference in the movie about the government sterlizing people. Say what?

    The robot head manages to build itself a body from Jill's artistic scrap supplies and procedes to go on a killing spree. It seems that the government has created the "MARK 13" android to hunt down the populace to stop overcrowding. Say what again? People are sterile or being sterilized, the world outside their city is a wasteland and overpopulation is a concern?

    Moses has a friend, some sort of space jockey named Shades. With the world so dystopian, it's a bit odd that people are still going into space. Anyway, it's up to these three to try to stop the MARK 13.

    As overdone as this plot is, you might say it's okay for a late night TBS movie but then suddenly there is a sideplot of this pervert who likes to spy upon Jill. He calls her up and says he wants to do something rather pornographic with a string of popcorn. When this line was uttered, everyone in the theater about gasped or laughed in embarassment. What the point of this was, who can tell. Of course, the MARK 13 blasts him in short order so who really cared.

    Bullets and shotgun pellets have no effect on the MARK 13. Worse, the robot kills off the main character Moses. Okay fine. But Moses dies with a big chunk of the movie left! Shades? Well he's too busy getting wasted on some sort of drug. That leaves Jill. Mind you, all kinds of small arms don't work on the thing but Jill's baseball bat slays the beast. My friend dubbed it "the emotional baseball bat."

    One of the songs in the movie was a repetitive track with the lyrics "This is what you want, this is what you got."

    As we left the theater, one of the group I was with got up and said "This is what we wanted...and this is what we got."

    ...more info
  • Ultra-Stylish Science Fiction
    The key thing about this movie is its atmosphere. Desolation and gloom pervade everything. The characters in this post-nuclear dystopia are making do with all that is left to them; fashioning machinery, livelihood, and culture out of the detritus scattered all around. The desert outlands, through which travel is sometimes necessary, are glaringly bright and lifeless and radiation swirls in the air. In contrast to this are the dusky, jagged, and metallic tones of the city where most of the story takes place. And finally, the sountrack music ( especially the hauntingly synthetic Public Image Ltd. song ) is very fitting and it perfectly reinforces the industrial harshness of the landscape and the overall sense of doom.

    Now the story itself was criticized at the time of its release for being derivative. And rightly so, since its a pretty obvious combination of "Terminator" ( a seemingly unstoppable machine that's built to kill ) and "Alien" ( claustrophobic enviroment ). Yet despite these familiar elements, this film has a unique feel all its own and is just as enjoyable as the ones it borrows from. It really stands up to repeat viewings ( try to catch it on Showtime Beyond ) not only because of the aesthetics, but because of the warmth and affection between the main characters ( the artist, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend's best friend ) despite the omnipresent gloom. This type of human connection seems to be missing from most sci-fi ( Star Trek excluded ) and its refreshing to see. Now what about that DVD already? ...more info
  • dark intelligent sci-fi
    First of all great soundtrack - Ministry and PIL, and not just for the musical content, but for when they chose to use it. It's so beautifully fitting to the scene which it is playing in. The death scene use of fractals just spurs you to wonder what really goes on in the brain during shutdown. Bottom line is this is a great low-budget flick with huge talent in the way of photography and score. And of course no film would be good without acting talent. Chomping at the bit for a dvd version, hopefully digitaly remastered and unedited...more info
  • One of my favourite films
    I loved this film when it came out and bought the soundtrack which is brilliant beyond comprehension. Simon Boswell did very well with the score. I can't believe the film is being released on DVD! That's just incredible. I remember when it was released initially there were two versions, one with some editing of the more graphic scenes. It will be a privilege to buy this film. And Stacey Travis is akin to the kind of woman I would want to marry!...more info
  • Incredible SciFi Thriller
    Mix "Terminator", "Pitch Black", and "Silence of the Lambs" and what have you got? "Hardware". This movie is not only a great SciFi movie, but an excellent thriller as well. Fans of other genres should enjoy this one. It offers a good deal more than a futuristic society on the brink of destruction. The unusual character personalities and the psychotic nature of the machines takes it a notch above many movies it is sometimes compared to. The camera work and visual effects are excellent. A great soundtrack makes it all the better. I recall when I saw it I thought Iggy Pop's was incredible. The story takes time to evolve but what starts out at a "Mad Max" level rapidly evolves to "Road Warrior" status. I highly recommend it to SciFi fans and non-fans alike....more info
    I'm grateful to get it, but this's a kine from German TV and not a very good one. I have a HARDWARE tape I took from DirecTv and it's vastly better. But when such kines (or whatever this's called) come out, the real re-release often isn't far behind. (Like Pacino's CRUISING, which has been making the boot rounds, and now the bona-fide release is upon us. For perfectionists, perhaps waiting might be best. ( Or pay about seven times the price of this issue and MAYBE get the real deal from a re-seller.)

    But fuzziness aside, this print is viewable. And it has
    'deleted scenes', some of which are pretty edgy...

    ...more info
  • The Cannery Row of 80s Noir Apocalypse Horror Films
    The book "Cannery Row" started off sluggishly and slightly incomprehensibly, and you don't feel connected at all when you begin reading it. About midway through, however, you bond with the characters and the tales, and -- more likely than not -- you begin the book over again, immediately after finishing it. This time, you understand everything you're seeing, and you realize how rich a work of narration and style it is. The film "Hardware" is the same way -- a junky start, incomprehensible characters and circumstances -- but then it gets under your skin, you understand the whole picture and, soon as it ends, want to see it again. (And, Stacey is absolutely BEAUTIFUL.)...more info
  • On the Twelfth Day of Christmas m True-Love brought to me...
    ...A Nasty Mark-XIII military Warbot head---in a pear tree!

    Well, not exactly---but that's the plot of Richard Stanley's surreal, cyberpunk, brutal, bloodthirsty dreamscape of a sci-fi flick "Hardware", which you should do whatever you need to do to beg, borrow, or steal a DVD copy. It's sick, bloody, good stuff.

    First off, know that "Hardware" director Richard Stanley is a Hollywood wild-man: notorious for all sorts of brooding, decadent fits, he was sacked on the 2nd day of filming for the ill-fated (doomed!) "Island of Doctor Moreau". He snuck back on set clad in nothing but a dog-mask. Takes guts, Richard---takes guts.

    Anyway, he was 24 when he helmed this sick, sacrilegious, probably evil little flick about the ultimate Christmas present gone wrong. Wayfaring soldier Moses Baxter (the grounded Dylan McDermott, who brings a lush breeze of reality to all the hynpotically surreal surroundings) finds a severed robot head in the hopelessly irradiated desert and hauls it back to his sexy, crazy artist-lover Jill (played wantonly by the yummy Stacey Travis...yeah). Turns out it's the head of the notoriously unreliable military warbot Mark XIII, and it has a nasty fetish for a little Yuletide bloodletting. Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly, indeed.

    I was relatively young and naive when I first saw "Hardware", and my young self thought the thing was positively immoral. I was shocked. The Mark XIII warbot is an angry young man: it kills viciously, indiscrimately, and then cloaks itself in the raw nuclear apocalypse reds and oranges and shadows of Baxter and Jill's little love shack. And mind you, this thing kills *brutally*. People are sliced in half and boy oh boy, the blood spills out like Franco-American carbonara sauce.

    But the real treat here is the grim, brutal, low-oxygen nihilistic setting. We have reshaped the future, says director Stanley. We have modified it. We have tweaked it. We have custom-designed it. Death is now art, art is now Death. Isn't it only fair that Death gets to tweak us?...more info
  • hardware the movie ??
    horrible video, loved the movie on vhs was hoping the DVD would be better,looked like bootleg theatre copy...more info
  • A Much-Overlooked Rock Solid Classic
    It's hard for me to understand why more people haven't seen this movie. With the dearth of truly excellent science fiction movies out there, I would think that more people would have been exposed to this very fine, terrifying science fiction thriller. However, if this movie does truly come out on DVD as is rumoured, perhaps more people will get a chance to experience this canonical classic.

    This film has every factor you would want in a scary science fiction movie -- a killer robot, artistic statements, a kick-rear-end soundtrack, superior acting, political statements, drugs, the snuffing out of humankind, and even good-old weirdness ("wibbly-wobbly walk"). However, what really sets it apart from the slew of mediocre sci-fi thrillers in this genre is the exceptional screenwriting, which develops the tension, suspense, and terror that grips you so effectively when you watch this movie.

    If you like "Alien" and "Aliens", you'll love this movie. In fact, you will love this movie even if you don't like science fiction in general. The only people who shouldn't watch this movie are those who don't like scary movies, because this one will absolutely *terrify* you....more info

  • Robot mayhem
    Hardware is a British/American low budget SF horror film that has some good production values considering the shoestring it was made on but has too many rough edges to make it cut art house appeal but may have some cult grains. When Hardware arrived it received good reviews noting that this was a young film maker on the rise. Probably the main reason to watch this is because of the career of Richard Stanley who made the very interesting Dust Devil after this one. There is also the notoriety this film generated when it landed the director in a lawsuit with 2000 AD comic producers because of the story.

    Hardware is a post-apocalyptic SF horror about a robot which assembles itself in a woman's apartment and tries to kill her and the occupants. The build up is very slow and most of the film takes place either in the desert or in the apartment. Some of the special effects are pretty gruesome. There isn't much of a story here and it is often boring in parts but these are the types of films that independent film makers need and should get their hands on. It is far from a bad first effort....more info