A wandering soldier finds a robot head in the post-apocalyptic desert. He brings it back to his girlfriend for use in one of her sculptures. He investigates the origin of the head, and discovers it’s from the Mark 13 project, canceled because of unreliability. His girlfriend, nay, society at large become endangered when the robot puts itself back together using the parts she has for her sculptures.
Severin has made scifi and horror sci fic fans proud today as we see the release of the much anticipated 1990 film “Hardware” finally in its proper DVD form. The good news is, I checked it out today and the transfer is beautiful! In fact it looks better than the original featuring stark, vivid colors and an entire re-evolution of the scif masterpiece. I know director Richard Stanley has got to be a bit happier to see his creation finally brought to full resolution. Up to this point eager fans were forced to purchase under the table bootleg cuts which never really quite did the trick. But being the only alternative they still had to ask the questions…why no DVD version? It took to the 21st Century but slowly we are seeing some of these last rounders find there way to digital. It was not too long ago that Stanley’s other important film “Dust Devil” was envisioned to digital finally.
So that bring us to the story. A post apocalyptic world ahead of its time which feels and looks remarkablly like a vision of things to come. Industrial filled, gritty, grungy, machine driven, desolate, changed and after the fact world is frightfully echoed with our own fears of what if? We are reminded of the state of things with broadcasts of population control acts going into effect and with rouge traders scouring the desert terrains for bits and pieces to sell to the highest bidders.
The technology itself is in fact assumed to be things that were…. by the refuge of lost parts and tried cybernetics that litter the lands. If this were a Terminator film it would the future of the future rather than the present state of affairs. The film stars Dylan McDermott as Moses Baxter and Stacey Travis and Jill his girlfriend.
He has just returned from we assume was a long journey across the lands to sell and rummage thru found parts and serving in the core. In the background we hear transmissions from Angry Bob played by Iggy Pop who informs us us the state of affairs and lack of good news. John Lynch plays Shades, Moses friend and friend of the family.
The unique thing here is that we don’t need a lengthy biography of what has come, we just take it in with what is revealed along the way. The idea of robots and cyborgs is just accepted as part of the way of life. Yet with the inclusion of the M.A.R.K. model we can still determine that the government is head deep in messing things up with experiments that should have never been. Stacey who lives alone making ends meet by doing freelance techie work is an artist who creates statues from lost parts. This past time takes the load off of the day while she deals with stalkers and a world in chaos.
Steam emits form old factories, in a desolate wasteland of junk yard scraps that litter the streets. The culture has even spawned a new breed called Zone traders who exist out of the effect of the change in events.
Essentially as most sci fi films do, it moves very quickly from a displaced world into a confrontation. This confrontation appears in the parts of the rummaged cyborg which reassembles itself, adds weapons and goes on an attack. All this centers from its IE system brain which hasn’t been fully disabled. A fight for life to the death progresses as the machine attacks without mercy. A plot line that has been replicated time and time again using different circumstances and creatures. Though no mistaking that “Hardware” is one of the true originals.
Stacey Travis in one of her more earlier roles is stunning with her tough persona and cherry pink hair. Almost masculine in her techie role she brings on a certain empowered female character that is not too dissimilar from Sigourney Weaver in Alien. Over the years she has appeared in numerous films and tv shows sporting her blond hairstyle but none so appealing and alluring as her role of Jill in Hardware.
Once again, an important part of horror scifi cinema that is essential to film collectors. Hardware is one of the lost gems that found its way. Highly recommended on all counts!