Hardware – UK, 1990

HARDWARE

‘You can’t stop progress’

Hardware is a 1990 British-American post-apocalyptic science fiction horror film directed by Richard Stanley (Dust Devil; The Profane ExhibitLost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau) and starring Dylan McDermott (The Fear Inside), Stacey Travis and John Lynch. Rock stars Iggy Pop and Lemmy (Motörhead) have cameo roles. The Simon Boswell soundtrack was bolstered by bristling tracks from Ministry (“Stigmata”) and Public Image Ltd. (“The Order of Death”).

Inspired by a short story in 2000 AD, the film depicts the rampage of a self-repairing robot in a post-apocalyptic slum. Other influences include Soylent Green, Damnation Alley, and the works of Philip K. Dick.

Plot:

A nomad scavenger treks through an irradiated wasteland and discovers a buried robot. He collects the pieces and takes them to junk dealer Alvy, who is talking with ‘Hard Mo’ Baxter, a former soldier, and Mo’s friend Shades. When Alvy steps away, Mo buys the robot parts from the nomad and sells all but the head to Alvy.

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Intrigued by the technology, Alvy begins to research its background. Mo and Shades visit Jill, Mo’s reclusive girlfriend, and, after an initially distant welcome where Jill checks them with a Geiger counter, Mo presents the robot head as a Christmas gift. Jill, a metal sculptor, eagerly accepts the head. After Shades leaves, Mo and Jill argue about a government sterilisation plan and the morality of having children. Later, they have sex, while being unknowingly watched by their foul-mouthed, perverted, voyeuristic neighbour Lincoln Weinberg via telescope.

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Jill works the robot head into a sculpture, and Mo says that he likes the work, but he does not understand what it represents. Frustrated, Jill says it represents nothing and resents Mo’s suggestion that she make more commercial art to sell. They are interrupted by Alvy, who urges Mo to return to the shop, as he has important news about the robot, which he says is a M.A.R.K. 13. Before he leaves, Mo checks his Bible, where he finds the phrase “No flesh shall be spared” under Mark 13:20, and he becomes suspicious that the robot is part of a government plot for human genocide…

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Buy Hardware 25th Anniversary Blu-ray from Amazon.co.uk

Reviews:

” …Stanley’s feature debut is an impressive assault on the senses, a shamelessly plagiaristic robotics nightmare laden with OTT apocalyptic symbolism and brash cinematic homages, from Argento’s Deep Red to Cameron’s The Terminator. Stanley’s gaudy vision achieves a roller-coaster pace, swept along by an incessant industrial soundtrack, the perfect backdrop for Image Animation’s deliciously fetishistic creation, all pumping pistons and sinewy flex.” Time Out

“A cacophonic, nightmarish variation on the postapocalyptic cautionary genre, Hardware has the makings of a punk cult film. Hardware veers loonily out of control and becomes a black comic exercise in F/X tour-deforce that’s ceaselessly pushing itself over the top.” Variety

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Hardware is clearly a low budget affair but Stanley uses his limited assets well. The broader devastation is established through the use of color filters and available deserts and partially demolished buildings as sets. When he moves indoors Stanley limits the action to Jill’s apartment and the immediate environment, choosing to focus his resources to create a richly designed, completely convincing microcosm of the world at large rather than spreading himself thinly over a larger environment and being less convincing.” Todd Brown, Twitch Film

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Buy Limited Edition double album vinyl including dialogue from Amazon.co.uk

Cast:

  • Dylan McDermott as Moses “Hard Mo” Baxter
  • Stacey Travis as Jill
  • John Lynch as Shades
  • Iggy Pop as Angry Bob
  • Carl McCoy as Nomad
  • William Hootkins as Lincoln Wineberg, Jr.
  • Mark Northover as Alvy
  • Paul McKenzie as Vernon
  • Lemmy as Water taxi driver

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