Ugh. you bastard Birkir! Thanks to his generous offer of taking part in an official beer tasting session for his blog, so today I feel as if I’ve been fucked by a truck. So apologies if this post is not as fun and action-packed as regular Sunday Cult Film Corner posts tend to be, but right now the only thing keeping me from passing out and drowning in my own drool are plates of roast chicken and cups of tea. So let’s get this done and dusted shall we?
Tonight’s episode of the Sunday Cult Film Corner is HARDWARE a post apocalyptic tale of machines that go haywire and start killing regular human scum. Made in 1990, and directed by Richard Stanley (A South African director known for his music videos and low-budget sci-fi thrillers and horrors), it’s based heavily on a 2000AD short story from 1981 called SHOCK!. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic future where wars have reduced the earth to a radioactive wasteland and overpopulation had driven mankind to the brink. The opening shot sees a nomad discovering robot parts while wandering the desert, Upon returning to the city, the parts are bought by a marine (Dylan McDermott) who thinks they will be a good present for his sculptor artist girlfriend.
However it turns out the robot parts are components of a secret govt project called M.A.R.K -13, a new series of robot that capable of artificial intelligence, self repair and the ability to charge itself from any electrical source. the M.A.R.K -13 robot are actually part of a secret govt plan to introduce genocide and reduce human overpopulation. Unfortunately the robots parts become reactivated and start to rebuild itself. the film then becomes a fight for survival as the robot goes on the rampage, killing everyone it sees at will.
there are several things that go in HARDWARE’s favour. The opening scenes are very well realised, showing a desert land of dark red hues and bleeding light contrast. This is a land of rusted sand and metal, where everything is dirty, broken, polluted and of a decidedly lo-fi nature. This is actually helpful considering the films low-budget. From there the film meshes together several themes and filmic inspirations – cyberpunk, industrial music, The Terminator, Tetsuo, Buddhist symbolism, etc. The film’s metal/rock/cyberpunk credentials are reinforced with the use of footage from industrial music pioneer Monte Caqzazza, as well as having cameos from the likes of Iggy Pop as a shock jock DJ, and Mötörhead’s Lemmy as a taxi driver. The soundtrack is also well above par, including music from Iggy and Lemmy, as well as from bands such as Ministry and P.I.L. With some decently executed robot special effects, the end result is a film that’s incredibly downbeat and slightly nihilistic in the best possible way.
But there are some downsides to the film once we leave the outside scenes and get inside. There are moments where the although this is supposed to be a dirt ridden, dystopian future, the film, with its moody lighting and soft focus shots, often has the look and feel of a straight to DVD erotic thriller (That often have titles like Executive Briefs), with the aesthetic of a MTV music video. This isn’t helped by the fact that the film’s leads are, on the one hand, decidedly telegenic and have obviously experienced the use of skincare products, yet they are decidedly dull and one-dimensional. You’ve got the obligatory sex scenes (Naturally with next door neighbor as a voyeur who spies on them making lover, so we too spy on them). Add to this some rather stodgy acting and some scenes where you go “Huh? why the fuck did they do that?”
All-in-all HARDWARE is pure B-movie schlock and is both downbeat, beak and silly in equal measure. It’s not a classic but it’s got decent amounts of gore and violence, and will definitely be up your street if you are looking for decidedly down to earth genre action