Horror Movie Review: Hardware (1990)

Hardware is a science fiction horror film that was directed by Richard Stanley in his feature directional debut. It released in 1990 and stars Dylan McDermott with cameos from Carl McCoy, Iggy Pop and Lemmy. Set in an oppressed post-apocalyptic world, a highly intelligent robot goes on a murderous rampage in a slum.

A nomad scavenger treks through an irradiated wasteland and discovers a buried robot. He collects the pieces and takes them to a junk dealer. A former soldier known as Mo buys the robot parts from the nomad and sells all but the head to the dealer. Mo visits Jill, his reclusive girlfriend. After an initially distant welcome, Mo presents the robot head as a Christmas gift. Jill, a metal sculptor, eagerly accepts the head. The pair have sex while being unknowingly watched by their perverted, voyeuristic neighbour Lincoln via telescope.

Later, Mo and Jill argue about a government sterilization plan and the morality of having children. Jill works the robot head into a sculpture. They are interrupted by the junk dealer, who urges Mo to return to the shop. He has important news about the robot, which he says is an M.A.R.K. 13. Mo checks his Bible, where he finds the phrase “No flesh shall be spared” under Mark 13:20. He becomes suspicious that the robot is part of a government plot for human genocide to address the planet’s severe overpopulation crisis.Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Back at the apartment, the robot has reassembled itself using pieces of Jill’s metal sculptures and recharged by draining her apartment’s power network. Can Mo make it back in time to stop the automated monster and save Jill? Check out Hardware to find out.

I watched A Quiet Place II before Hardware and I was really disappointed by the CGI in that film. The monsters looked so fake and it came out in 2021. Hardware came out 31 years ago and had a much lower budget and yet it blows those effects away. The effects used to bring the robot to life hold up so well. Also, there’s an amazing piece of gore near the end involving a huge metal door.

Hardware is a decent science-fiction horror film but it does have some issues. I like that it spends a good chunk of the first half of the film developing the world. You get a good look at many of the excellently designed sets and props. Still, I would have liked to know even more about the world. For example, what had happened to make it such a radiated wasteland? How it was still functioning at all etc. You don’t get the answers. It has a lot of really interesting but dark ideas about population control and so on but it doesn’t really develop them enough.

There’s loads of really wacky imagery throughout Hardware. The cameos are fun if not a bit pointless. One of the biggest issues in the film is the characters. They’re poorly developed, uninteresting and one dimensional. Also, for whatever reason the M.A.R.K 13 refuses to kill Jill even though it has so many opportunities to do so. It’s like they knew she couldn’t die because she’s an important character. It gets kind of laughable the amount that she survives. There’s a few false endings where you think the machine is defeated and then it comes back again.

Additionally, the editing and cinematography can be a bit nauseating. Hardware tries really hard to be artful and poetic but kind of fails in that department. The metaphors are subtle but they’re a bit confused. I did like the soundtrack, it adds to the grimy feel of the world.




Hardware
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7.99/10 (9 votes)