‘Hard’ to Swallow

hardwareIf hell exists, then there is no better way to torture souls then forcing them to sit through “Hardware,” which is a pretentious and excruciatingly boring B-Film disguised as a science-fiction movie.

Sure, it succeeds in creating a cold, distant, post-apocalyptic future, but suffers from the major flaw of having the characters appear equally as cold and distant themselves. Viewers are not able to become invested in the protagonists or care for their survival. In the end, that turns this film into one of the most painfully long movie experiences you’ll ever have.

Not even brief cameos by Lemmy and Iggy Pop can save this abysmal mess.

The premise involves Moses Baxter (yes, this is a commentary on religion) as he wanders across the vast, bleak universe created for the picture. He stumbles on a M.A.R.K. 13, which is a robot created by the military for purposes still unknown to the audience or mankind. Baxter brings the robot to his sculptor girlfriend (naturally…?), and within time they discover the purpose of the robot and accidentally unleash it on humanity. Now, humanity in this picture is full of perverts, junkies and anti-social thieves, so it really is no big loss.

Baxter is portrayed by Dylan McDermott, and that casting flaw is a major problem for the picture. He is the most dull and annoying hero for a picture of this caliber. His performance is equally matched by Stacey Travis as Jill, Baxter’s girlfriend. She has locked herself in her apartment and has a problem smoking dope, and one can only wonder what Baxter sees in her. He brings her the M.A.R.K. 13 as a Christmas gift – they bicker and somehow end up in bed together as we watch through the infrared eyes of a pepping tom. You keep waiting for the characters and plot to develop, and yet it never happens.

But one actor steals the spotlight for worst actor of all time, and that is John Lynch as Shades. It is worth renting this movie just to see what an awful actor this guy is, but even then you might be better off finding a clip on YouTube.

To add insult to injury, the back of the box states that this film shocked the MPAA with a certain level of disturbing violence. For starters, the violence is nothing special for gore hounds, and secondly, a movie needs more than gore for a reason to be seen. When violence is crucial to the storytelling, it can be thrilling, but when thrown into a sloppy film of this stature, it is just an insult.

It is clear that this is director Richard Stanley’s bleak outlook and commentary on society, but it is the type of film that holds no purpose to anyone but him and his ego. With all this being said, if you are a fan of this picture, Severin has done an amazing job on the transfer of this movie and the wealth of supplements they provided in this two-disc collection. It starts off with an almost self-praising commentary by director Stanley over the uncensored version of his movie.

On disc two is where the rest of the extras are, including a lengthy and in-depth, hour-long making-of documentary entitled “No Flesh Shall Be Spared.” That is followed by “Incidents in an Expanding Universe,” which is an early Super 8 version of “Hardware” with different actors.

Then there are two very interesting short films by Stanley: “The Sea of Perdition” and “Rites of Passage.” Those are followed by Stanley discussing the what-could have-been sequel to “Hardware” for about eight minutes. The disc is rounded out with a German trailer, a promo piece from the heyday of VHS, and deleted and extended scenes.

It is doubtful that “Hardware” will acquire any new fans, but it does have a cult following that will be more than pleased with this release from Severin, and the only ones that will pony up the $30 sticker price.

About Anthony Benedetto 153 Articles
I have always had a tremendous passion for the cinema. For me, movies provide a great escape. When done right, the characters and stories are something that I am instantly drawn into. Over the years, I’ve unintentionally become a movie encyclopedia that I often find myself the recipient of late night phone calls from my friends while at Blockbuster [One such conversation between the Editor of this site and the film “Redbelt” immediately comes to mind.] As far as my preferences go however, I love both the cult cinema and the classics. My love of film ranges from features such as “Amadeus” to “Sorority Babes in the Slime Ball Bowl-A- Rama.” I have a long range of film heroes as well that include, Michael J. Fox, Lloyd Kaufman, Robby Benson, Michael Caine and Jeff Bridges. On this site, I hope to teach people about cult cinema and have them rent films that they normally would not, turning you into the monster that I have become. Someday, I hope to be the star and director of my cult film, employing the old stop motion techniques used in films like “Flesh Gordon.”

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