Good Psychedelic Sci-Fi – HARDWARE
HARDWARE is‘s beautifully shot post-apocalyptic nightmare.
There was a time when there were big expectations for director Richard Stanley, a visual stylist of the first order, who made a splash with this 1990 b-movie slice of grungy futurism, Hardware (aka Mark 13), the tale of a scavenger (played by Dylan McDermott) living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland who turns a salvaged robot head into a gift for his pot-smoking artist girlfriend (Stacey Travis) only to discover it’s a discarded war machine, a M.A.R.K. 13, which begins to reassemble itself from found objects. The robot kills indiscriminately, having been programmed to do so, and can inject a toxin which causes sensory hallucination before death, which Stanley employs to great affect. In fact what sets this movie apart is this hallucinatory, metaphysical slant, heightened by slick visuals and hyper-saturated colors (mostly red), as well as a punk aesthetic aided by the inclusion of Iggy Pop as “Angry Bob,” a radio DJ/narrator. The majority of the movie takes place in an apartment complex but the bleak backdrop alludes to a larger picture of spiritual corrosion, as the robot (its face painted with the stars n’ stripes) stalks and kills tenants who may very well be the last on Earth. The whole thing is a trippy, inventive nightmare, a minor affair on the surface but in fact one of the purest “cyberpunk” experiences science-fiction cinema has to offer. Stanley, who is notoriously difficult to work with, would go on to make Dust Devil, another amazing piece of abstract metaphysics, before being kicked off the set of The Island of Dr. Moreau, where he was fired and replaced by John Frankenheimer. There are rumors circling of a sequel to Hardware in the works, though legal issues may forever keep this from happening. For now I suggest you search youtube for “Mark 13″ and check out the 1990 classic in its entirety for yourself, before your toaster injects you with a biological agent causing you to believe it’s an old family pet and you electrocute yourself giving it a bath.