The UK doesn't produce that many really interesting directors these days, and Richard Stanley is one of those who somehow never quite broke through. Hardware was his first full feature, rumoured to be made for under a million pounds, and with his limited resources he created a cult classic for the early nineties.
The plot is lifted from the pages of a one-off 2000AD comic strip, with a war robot going crazy within the confines of a futuristic appartment. Stanley expanded the premise, but kept the claustrophobic atmosphere of the single setting and crafted a unique horror around it. With gruesome special effects, a pumping soundtrack, and some committed performances from its mainly British cast, the film has an undeniable energy, and Stanley's background in music videos is apparent from the clever camera angles, fast cuts and blend of music and visuals.
Unfortunately, the collapse of Palace Pictures meant that Stanley was unable to capitalise on the success of Hardware, and his second feature, the fantastic Dust Devil, was only finished at great financial cost to himself. Thereafter he seems to have been unable to get another full feature backed and, after a failed attempt to helm The Island of Dr Moreau, sadly Hollywood seems to have turned its back on him.
So - good film, but is this DVD worth purchasing? Well, Hardware was pretty savaged for its original 4:3 VHS release, and its unclear if this DVD is merely a print from that or something more. Buena Vista were due to release a properly remastered version, but it has been cancelled. The only good version currently on DVD is from Laser Paradise, taken from the Japanese original Laserdisc. Unlike Dust Devil, of which at least 2 decent DVDs are available, Hardware still awaits a definitive DVD treatment.