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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pollution And Robots
Does anybody remember Richard Stanley? That erratic South African director / screenwriter responsible for the mini-classic "Dust Devil" and notorious for being booted off "The Island Of Doctor Moreau" by John Frankenheimer? Oh yes, and let's not forget the rumours of him returning to the latter's set and attempting to sabotage it... Which is probably why no film studio...
Published on 3 Jun 2009 by Brady Orme

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All premise, no payoff
South Africa's Richard Stanley may be the only director to make Terry Gilliam and Donald Cammell look lucky (perhaps appropriately Stanley even tried to film one of Cammell's unfilmed scripts). Best known for being fired from his version of The Island of Dr Moreau, that just seemed the best-known disaster in a track record filled with debris. Hired by Channel 4 to make a...
Published on 10 May 2011 by Trevor Willsmer


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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pollution And Robots, 3 Jun 2009
By 
Brady Orme (Edgbaston, England) - See all my reviews
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Does anybody remember Richard Stanley? That erratic South African director / screenwriter responsible for the mini-classic "Dust Devil" and notorious for being booted off "The Island Of Doctor Moreau" by John Frankenheimer? Oh yes, and let's not forget the rumours of him returning to the latter's set and attempting to sabotage it... Which is probably why no film studio will touch him with a barge pole nowadays. Anyway, his first movie has finally gotten the go-ahead for release - "Hardware" (1990) and by God, if any movie needs more attention lavished on it...

Known intimately by only the hallowed few through late-night viewings on old-school Channel 4 and currently the Zone Horror channel, the film details how scavengers Mo Baxter (Dylan McDermott) and Shades (John Lynch)come across the M.A.R.K. 13 droid in a heavily polluted 21st Century landscape and attempt to make use of it - Mainly by giving the remains to Baxter's estranged girlfriend Jill (Stacey Travis) to turn into an art project. As the name of the robot states (Mark 13 is a New Testament gospel verse that states "no flesh shall be spared") it's out to fulfil it's programming, which entails slaughtering Jill and taking it from there. Everyrobot needs to start somewhere, right? Cue mayhem and Future Shock on a low budget, which you won't mind to tell the truth. And how Stanley managed to persuade Lemmy from Motorhead, Carl McCoy from Fields Of The Nephilim and Iggy Pop's voice masquerading as a radio DJ to feature is beyond me.

The DVD (as well as the Blu Ray) is a lavish affair, which is a sight to behold in this Age where four-quid re-issues are the norm. Look, you even get conceptual art cards with it by Gawd! Expect commentary from Stanley himself, deleted scenes and a documentary, "Voices Of The Moon". Apocalyptic film always get's me in a lather, and "Hardware" is right up there with the greats. OKay, maybe not "Def Con 4", but close. That was a joke.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Budget Classic, 18 Jan 2007
By 
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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Post-apocalyptic cultness!, 6 Jan 2003
This review is from: Hardware [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Hardware is every cyberpunk lovers wet-dream! If your into demented robots going on killing sprees in techno laden enviroments and characters that ooze coolness then buy this film! This film isnt just a violent gore fest, it has a lot of tense & emotional moments, especially between the 2 main characters jill and moses.This is just simply one of the best sci-fi films ever made & more credit is due to Richard Stanley than he ever got for his films(even tho he only made about 3).Look out for the guest appearance by lemmy as a taxi-driver & Iggy Pop as the mad radio dj (see what i mean by cool!?)Incidentally if you like this film you should check out dust devil as well.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "No flesh shall be spared" ., 15 Jun 2009
By 
russell clarke "stipesdoppleganger" (halifax, west yorks) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
One of those films I was beginning to despair of ever appearing in the DVD format Hardware was originally released in 1990 and is a stylish sci-fi/horror film with an interesting back story .The film is based on a "2000 AD "comic story called "SHOK! Walter's Robo-Tale."The original theatrical release did not mention the comic book despite heavily plagiarizing its storyline. Following legal action a caveat was added to later versions and the strip's creators, Steve MacManus and Kevin O'Neill, now get full writers' credit along with the original writer and director Richard Stanley.
Stanley himself has a fascinating history going on to make the flawed dust Devil before being fired as the director of the remake of The Island Of Dr Moreau [DVD] [1996] which given that it turned out to be a Harryhausen sized turkey may not have been a bad thing. However his behaviour post sacking ( sneaking back onto the set in a Dogman mask and trying to sabotage it ) seems to have stymied his directorial career ( In the mid-90s his adaptation of Robert E. Howard's "The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane" was optioned by Ed Pressman who wanted to set it up with Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead role. The whole thing was effectively terminated by the Moreau debacle.)
A great pity as Hardware made on a tiny budget( $1.5 million ) is a terrific little film with a great central idea. Given the memorable tagline that "In the 21st century there will be a new endangered species...man." the plot has Nomad ( played by Carl from the band Fields Of The Nephilim ) discovering a robot head in the radioactive desert .He sells it on to scrap merchant Alvy (Mark Northover ) and it catches the eye of soldier Moses ( Dylan McDermott ) who gives it as a present to his girlfriend Jill ( Stacey Travis) who uses it for her metal art project .
But Alvy discovers that the robot heads comes from a prototype military droid called the Mk 13( Its name is a reference to the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament of the Bible, part of which reads "no flesh shall be spared") and is able to reconstruct itself from any bits of machinery or bits of scrap and will then become a lethal killing machine ..literally.
So before you can shout Robot wars the Mk13 is activated and re-building itself with rather worrying haste and Jill is trapped in the apartment with it though she is also under voyeuristic observation by her sexually perverse neighbour Vernon (Paul McKenzie in a notably repellent cameo) who maybe can offer her a life line .
The film is very effectively rendered building the tension nicely until the action kicks in .Stanley makes proficient use of light and sound and the special effects( by Image Animation who also worked on Hellraiser [1987] [DVD] and Highlander [DVD] [1986] ) are more than sufficient .The acting is variable but good enough and there are notable cameo's for Iggy Pop( pretty good he is too ) as shock D.J. Angry Bob-"Nature never colours like this " referring to nuclear fallout - and Lemmy( rubbish ) as a water taxi driver .
It's good to know the DVD will have plenty of extras with a commentary from Stanley , deleted scenes and a documentary "Voices Of The Moon " ( a 1990 documentary made by Stanley on the Russian invasion of Afghanistan ) and even conceptual insert cards.
The films assertion that the machines we build may ultimately be the death of us is hardly original but the narratives final revelation that the Mk13 is due for mass production is just the sort of thing that probably would happen .As long as human beings want to kill each other for whatever reason homicidal droids are on the agenda. As one of the characters says "Machines don't understand sacrifice - neither do morons."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All premise, no payoff, 10 May 2011
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
South Africa's Richard Stanley may be the only director to make Terry Gilliam and Donald Cammell look lucky (perhaps appropriately Stanley even tried to film one of Cammell's unfilmed scripts). Best known for being fired from his version of The Island of Dr Moreau, that just seemed the best-known disaster in a track record filled with debris. Hired by Channel 4 to make a film about the Nazis search for the lost Ark of the Covenant, he got fired for pointing out that it was pure fiction and instead offering to make a film about their quest for the Holy Grail instead. His second feature, Dust Devil, was heavily re-edited and dumped on video after producers Palace Pictures went bust and despite a fair amount in hype back in 1990, his first, Hardware, wasn't quite smooth sailing either. Another of Palace's attempts to break into the US market and co-produced with the ill-fated British Satellite Broadcasting, who managed to go bust before they ever went on air, and Miramax, who promptly re-edited it to get an R-rating, it never really broke out of its niche despite its high concept and ran into an awkward legal dispute over whether it plagiarised a story from UK comic 2000 AD (not helped by the fact that Stanley's cousin was an illustrator on the comic). Even though the extremely low budget film did show a profit, a sequel fell through because the rights were spread between too many bankrupt companies that no longer existed. So, all in all, not one of life's lucky people, then...

One side-effect of all this misfortune is that, while it's guaranteed Stanley some cult cachet as a kind of cinematic Ancient Mariner, it tends to overshadow the fact that he's an awfully average director at best. A post-apocalyptic cyberpunkish number, Hardware sees Dylan McDermott ill-advisedly buy some robot scrap metal as a Christmas present for sculptor girlfriend Stacey Travis only to find out too late that it's actually a self-repairing military robot programmed to kill and she's all alone with it in her apartment... But too late seem the operative words. While Stanley takes his time setting up an irradiated and complacent decaying world where cities are more like junkyards in the aftermath of either a `limited nuclear exchange' or global warming, he also takes way too long getting the plot and the carnage started, which is a big problem for what is essentially an exploitation movie with its eye firmly on the then-thriving video market. It's not exactly dull getting to the punch, but with the movie nearly half over before the Mark 13 reawakens and precious little in the way of foreboding while you're waiting, it's a surprise in this case that the Weinsteins didn't cut the film more heavily to cut to the chase.

Unfortunately even then it never really shifts into high gear, the action scenes clumsily staged and edited so that the better ideas don't work as well as they should, which is a pity because there aren't many good ideas in the few action scenes to begin with, rendering what there is unexciting and unsurprising stuff. The apartment is too small for a chase or to play hide-and-seek but its claustrophobic potential is never really exploited, the opportunities to have the robot reinvent itself or hide in her industrial sculptures are never taken and the cast of characters too small to provide much slicing-and-dicing if that's what you're looking for in a killer robot on the rampage movie, which is a reasonable expectation. Even the notion that the robot is designed to indiscriminately kill to keep the contaminated population down is thrown away in a couple of lines of dialogue.

With its heavy metal and punk rock aesthetic (Lemmy from Motorhead cameos as a cabby while Iggy Pop does DJ duty on the soundtrack) and Argento-inspired lurid color palette alternating with the kind of orange and teal look that's become so overused of late, the film's cluttered and oppressive look is suitably unappealing for its story, but it doesn't exactly endear it to you. It's the kind of cult film that a few will truly love and many will outright hate for not really delivering on its premise, but it's ultimately too average to really earn either reaction - the kind of film that just washes over you and is quickly forgotten.

Still, there's an excellent extras package - director and producer's audio commentary, two of Stanley's early home movies, a documentary he directed about the Mujahideen, a fairly pointless more recent short Sea of Perdition, a couple of vintage promos and lengthy deleted scenes - and the Bluray has a very good widescreen transfer.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Long Overdue DVD Release, 13 Oct 2009
By 
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It's a measure of the complex nature of Richard Stanley's career that his lesser-known and less successful work, Dust Devil, made it onto DVD a few years before Hardware, his early cult hit. Indeed, at the same time as this Region 2 release from Optimum, there is also now a Region 1 DVD from another new print with different extras and different commentaries. Suddenly we're spoilt for choice!

Which is the better release I cannot say, but having only ever seen this film on a pan and scan VHS, this version from Optimum is a revelation. Apart from some graininess in the opening desert shots, the picture is crisp and detailed, and the colours much more balanced than ever before. The audio is good too, but although it was touted as being a 5.1 mix it only seems to be available as Pro Logic Surround (a little disappointing but not the end of the world).

The film itself has survived the passage of the years and of my memory, and was even better than I remembered. The claustrophobic confines of Jill's apartment and the low-fi dystopian future setting mean that the film's low budget feel remains vibrant where major Hollywood sfx films of the same era now look incredibly tacky. More than any other sci-fi since, it builds on Blade Runner's legacy without diminishing it - dark, confined spaces, decay mixed with technology , rain and neon. The sound effects and music are used in the classic horror style, building tension and creating atmosphere, then pounding you when the action starts. The lead performances are solid without overshadowing the real star, the Mark-13, who looms in and out of frame and is still genuinely scary.

I've resigned myself to the reality that I'll probably never see a full film from Richard Stanley again - the fragmented and incomplete Sea of Perdition available as an extra on this DVD suggests he's now a long way away from the business end of the film industry. But this release (and the companion Blu Ray) means that at least we can enjoy the existing films in some style.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blu-ray, 3 July 2009
The picture is a vast improvement over any previous versions I've seen, except in the cinema, and the Audio is very good, but unfortunately not 5.1.

There's a commentary from Stanley and the Producer that's entertaining.
There's two of Stanley's short super 8 films, one of which is the short that became the feature HARDWARE.
There's also deleted and extended scenes, and some brief behind the scenes stuff. Pretty interesting.
The Sci-fi short SEA OF PERDITION is brief but entertaining.

The excellent documentary THE VOICE OF THE MOON is included, but has nothing to do with the film. It was previously available on the DUST DEVIL 5-Disc set.

Also inside is a 26 page booklet full of information about the film, and a few collector's cards. Nice!

Overall a good Blu-ray. It's just a pity they didn't give it a 5.1 mix. A making-of documentary would have been nice too. Still, highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Machines don't understand sacrifice... neither do morons.", 28 Dec 2012
By 
D'mo (Sheffield, UK) - See all my reviews
Now as most of my review material should make evident, I love genre movies - particularly horror. I also like a bit of sci-fi. This movie is, much like Alien, one of a few to combine the two in an innovative and visually interesting fashion while at the same time maintaining an artistic undertow that pulls the viewer along. I know this movie has its critics, and I'll not argue that its plot has been heard a dozen times before, the presentation and feel of this movie goes far beyond any other use of this storyline I've seen since Ridley Scott's masterful celebration of the predator and prey going head to head in the future.

The Earth is a polluted, poisoned wasteland; nations continue to batter against one another in seemingly endless wars while civilisation staggers like the walking wounded, trying to scrape a living between rampant disease, overpopulation and constant lies on the news networks. One of the scavengers of the battlegrounds, a nameless nomad, finds the remains of a battle robot, which then find their way into the hands of Hard Mo - a war-weary soldier coming home for another Christmas armistice that is sure to be broken. He gives the scrap to his girlfriend Jill, a shut-in artist who abhors the ruined world outside, as a gift. However, the robot is far from deactivated, and begins to reassemble itself in order to continue its program... do the words CRUSH, KILL, DESTROY sound familiar? Jill is forced to defend herself from the rampaging machine, while Mo discovers the unpleasant truth behind the MARK 13's purpose, leading to a race to get back to the apartment before the robot overpowers the unarmed Jill, who has little but her wits as defense against a being constructed for the battlefield. A final confrontation between the MARK 13, Jill and Mo plays out in the dim, shabby building, though this is just a small part of a much larger threat looming - perhaps one impossible to stop. And perhaps more meaningfully, will anyone care?

One thing that always made Hardware stand out for me is just how hard it is trying to be real while equally portraying the unreal; most post-apocalyptic futures are either replete with colourful Mad-Max-esque savages or are bleak, hopeless nightmares where death would be a blessed release. The world of Hardware is a weary, run-down world that has hints of modern inner-city life to it (the very real-world rife unemployment, collapsing social order and poverty rub shoulders with more fantastic refugees from nameless wars in faraway places people don't seem to care about, failing weather control and a planet so poisoned the sky has changed colour). The fact that the social panacea of tv is still transmitting and people are just carrying on making the weapons for these endless wars makes the movie's world stand out as one not so much dying or dead as just broken and defeated, trudging on as best it can. It's a great metaphor that is only hobbled by the film's low budget. Director Richard Stanley though is completely valliant in his effort to make the story's universe seem real, and on that alone it succeeds where multi-million dollar budgets since have failed pitifully. The feel of Hardware alone is worth viewing it for in my opinion.

The characters that inhabit the world are equally tired and existing from moment to moment. Mo, bleakly aware as a soldier he is living on borrowed time, is trying to encourage Jill into having children with him, but she is reticent about even considering it with the state of the world. The city is a venomous, violent place like an open, infected industrial wound. Jill is painfully aware of reality while Mo tries falteringly to ignore how right she is. Only their mutual friend Shades seems blissfully optimistic of them living a better life, though he is admittedly loaded on drugs most of the time. Performances here are fairly low-key, but solid enough to keep up the illusion of the future circling the drain, but fighting the tide all the same. It's neither hopeful or hopeless, it is just the downtrodden status quo of modern life continuing into the future; kitchen-skin sci-fi of a sort. The three leads, Dylan McDermott, Stacy Travis and John Lynch are all pretty decent, but Lynch is the standout as the fast-talking Shades. There are cameos by Iggy Pop and Lemmy, and the always entertaining William Hootkins appears as a repulsive, sinister toad of a peeping tom to add to the mix.

The MARK 13 is a neat little effect for the low budget; an entirely non-humanoid robot that largely just what it appears to be - a robot. Its clunky, crippled movements (often poked at as a casualty of low budget) and the way it improvises repairs using Jill's household machines and tools make it one of the walking wounded too, albeit one without fear or insecurity. It is also a quite memorable looking monster - you don't find many robots going after people with angle grinders and drills, or glassy vampire fangs filled with apple-pie-scented halucinogenic toxins. Its lack of polish is perhaps more indicative of the run-down industrial ethic the whole film has than budgetary limitations and its metaphorical place among the other triage victims of this run-down future.

The film isn't perfect; its pacing at times is laboured, and there are a few sequences where some viewers I've met get lost - one in particular where a halucinating character sees a wild variety of images and surreal objects while the movie's grinding electronic score gives way to sweeping classical music apparently being conducted by the suddenly-musical MARK 13 - but this is after all a fever-dream of a dying human. The plot is certainly a well-trodden one, but the overall presentation of the picture is too energetic, too original for the period (remember this is a product of the 80's change into the 90's) and perhaps its only obvious shortfall is the director's attempts to overreach budget, but this can be forgiven considering how hard this film is trying to draw you into its world. This was made when these kinds of dystopias were still in favour and not seen as quite so overdone, and if these minor quibbles can be overlooked, as should unfair and obvious comparisons to Alien and every other use of the formula of small-cast-trapped-with-monster, Hardware is a very artistic, interesting and wryly-prophetic look at the future, and easily my favorite example of the so-called Alien-alike to date.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars finally the masterpiece is on dvd, 9 Aug 2009
By 
finally hardware has appeared in an edition that does it justice. the german red edition was very bad, this one is an incredible upgrade. the transfer is very good and the extras are abundant. the only downside is that in the booklet the original comic is printed way too small so it`s hard to read it without a magnifying lense. that takes one star from being it perfect.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars On DVD at last, 27 Jun 2009
By 
Ms. Emma Louise Boobier (Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
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Finally I get to have this on DVD! Am very impressed too. The DVD has some good extra features, is good quality and even has some extras in the box. Had almost given up hope on this one!
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