Director – Richard Stanley
Cast – Dylan McDermott, Stacey Travis, John Lynch, Mark Northover, Stacy Travis, Paul McKenzie, Iggy Pop(voice)
Release Year – 1990
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Hardware is a film that I would constantly see at rental stores and certain DVD shops, but despite its awesome DVD cover I would always pass it over for other films that I figured would give me more enjoyment. After coming across it again I told myself that I better get it over with and finally give this one a shot, and while I liked the overall concept I must say that Hardware left me a bit disappointed with the end result.
Moses, a wandering soldier scavenging for scrap in a post-apocalyptic era, comes across the head of a robot and brings it home to his girlfriend Jill, an artist with a knack for working with metal. When a counterpart of Moses searches for information on the head, he unlocks classified government files containing the deadly purpose of the robot, and inadvertently powers up the robot and the evil it harbors. Lisa and Moses are now in a fight for their lives against a maniacal beast who is not only indestructible, but hellbent on killing as much of mankind as it can.
I enjoy stories involving killer robots, so from the get-go Hardware had my devout attention. Set in an apocalyptic world, we get an interesting setting that is rarely used in the genre, and adds a nice sci-fi touch to this early 90s horror effort. It takes a while before the horror kicks in, mostly because Richard Stanley and the film’s other credited and non-credited writers took their time in setting up the character relationship between Moses and Jill, as well as several other characters thrown into the mix to keep things interested, although their usage was mostly of silly nature. When the horror does kick in via the robot being activated we are given some awesome scenes that laid on gory carnage in a small space, mostly Lisa’s apartment, which I found to be a fantastic idea given it left our protagonists with few places to hide/run from the robot. The conspiracy behind the robot’s inception was pretty cool, and played into the overpopulation of humans, so I am sure you can figure out the rest. While I liked the story overall, we do get some silly elements that I could not ignore, mostly involving character usage and then bad pacing, but good direction could have fixed that…and it didn’t.
Main writer Richard Stanley(Dust Devil) also served as the film’s director, and with borderline-positive results. I enjoyed the dark post-apocalyptic atmosphere, and the space age look to all of the sets used, and much to my enjoyment he used the robot to full potential busting through walls, giving chase to its victims, and delivering some pretty sweet live-action gore as well. The look of the creature was great, and truly had a creepy look to it that was complimented by the dark atmosphere that hid it very well at times in almost near plain sight. While he executed the horror well and the characters good enough, I really disliked his execution of everything else, which I found very odd and downright unlikable at times. It could just be that the film is of unique flavor that I am just not used to, but for me it did not work, and I think the consensus will agree.
Overall, Hardware is a decent sci-fi/horror effort that gives us good horror in the form of a savage killing machine, but execution issues and small story faults kept this from being anything spectacular.