Hardware is set out in the sticks, or what would pass for the sticks amongst a desolate planet. Moses Baxter (Dylan McDermott) finds and brings home the head of a defective maintenance droid, found out in the Zone by a Nomad, also known as a Zone Runner, since his better half, Jill (Stacey Travis), makes a living putting sculptures together and this piece would complete the picture nicely. Big mistake.
The setting for Hardware isn’t a dodgy ITV sitcom with cardboard sets and unfunny jokes, but is actually a post-apocalyptic future world teeming with radiation and this particular type of government project droid, codenamed Mark 13, never came to fruition because it was deemed to malfunction – and how!
The robot rebuilds itself back into a killing machine, by using spare bits from around the house and topping it off with the head – just imagine if a cyborg head from the Terminator films could do that. However, it does take quite a while before it gets to that.
It’s difficult to quantify this film because it’s great when it’s going full-tilt for the last 40 mins, but for the preceeding 55 mins, my memory of what I saw when it first came out far exceeds what was actually there. Oh, and I’d also forgotten how gruesomely Eastenders Tony Carpenter (Oscar James) gets offed :) but I had remembered that there’s also an audio cameo from Iggy Pop as radio DJ Angry Bob.
Hardware is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen ratio and it’s only 19 years old so just why does the print look as bad as it does in some places? There are flecks on the print early on and it doesn’t look particularly fantastic to start with so it’s like someone’s forgotten to remaster it. Overall, it just doesn’t feel like the kind of quality we would expect of a Blu-ray disc. For the record, I’m watching on a Panasonic 37″ Plasma screen via a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.
There’s better news from the audio, though. Although there’s no DTS/Dolby Digital soundtracks here, what we have got *is* on top-form, as much as it can, and comes loud and proud when the robot goes ape, as well as being crisp and clear for dialogue and for everything inbetween, especially the occasionally gory murder. I also loved the film’s theme by Public Image Ltd, “Order Of Death” (see below) If only the picture could’ve taken a leaf out of the sound’s book.
Public Image Ltd: Order Of Death
The extras are as follows and give some spoilers about the film, so make sure you’ve watched it first:
- Deleted, Extended and Behind the scenes (21:10): 3 extended, plus a brief look at a the scene where Lincoln dies and then a rough cut of a deleted scene. I know at the start of this it states that the quality of the footage source can vary, but they have got to be having a laugh with the dreadful VHS quality of the first extended scene. The rest weren’t miles better, either. All of them are in letterboxed 1.85:1
- Sea of Perdition (8:31): A short film about a cosmonaut stranded on Mars, and presented in anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen. It’s a short film from the director which only really gets interesting when some nudity crops up at around 5©mins.
- The Early Days: Early Richard Stanley Super 8 Movies (54:25): Does exactly what it says on the tin, with two films – Rites of Passage and Incidents in an Expanding Universe, the first one of the two running to almost 10 mins. Clearly something for the collector but don’t expect high quality pictures here.
- The Voice of the Moon (32:24): Something else from the director. This time it’s an experimental documentary on the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.
- Original Hardware Promo (3:32): It’s extended-trailer time, presented in 4:3, with comments from the cast and crew.
This disc has a cool main menu which mixes talking computer with music from the film to have just 12 chapters is ridiculous and a lack of subtitles doesn’t help. The collector of Richard Stanley’s work will be pleased to find all the additional films on this disc, and apparently the full package (which didn’t accompany my review check disc) includes a 26-page booklet of information about the film and some collector’s cards. However, the presentation of the film itself could be better.
Running time: 94 minutes
Released: June 22nd 2009
Chapters: 12 plus extras
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: Dolby Surround 2.0
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Richard Stanley
Producers: JoAnne Sellar and Paul Trijbits
Screenplay: Richard Stanley (from a short story, “SHOK!“, by Steve MacManus and Kevin O’Neill)
Original Score: Simon Boswell
Moses Baxter: Dylan McDermott
Jill: Stacey Travis
Shades: John Lynch
Lincoln Wineberg Jr: William Hootkins
Angry Bob: Iggy Pop
Nomad: Carl McCoy
Alvy: Mark Northover
Vernon: Paul McKenzie
Taxi Driver: Lemmy
Chief: Oscar James
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.