Holy Hell. I hope Richard Stanley pitched this movie as Mad Max meets Terminator, because I’m pretty sure that that’s what I just watched.
I have a bad habit of mining the cheese smeared depths of Netflix’s non mainstream SFFH offerings (science fiction, fantasy, horror), and dumping them in my queue for months or even years. I really can’t stop myself, it’s from the same place in my brain that makes me check the bed for spiders three times every night. Well, tonight as we scrolled through my Netflix queue looking for something ridiculous, my bizarre compulsion paid off when we came across Richard Stanley’s Hardware.
Hardware is a post apocalyptic killer robot nightmare that comes to us all the way from the year 1990. It also comes to us from England, and the twisted mind of Richard Stanley.
Starting off with a never ending opening credit scene of creepy radiation sand dunes being traversed by some mysterious steam punk guy who gets like two lines, the Mad Max vibe of this movie is strong. It never really goes away, even though most of the movie happens inside a single city apartment.
The robot is absolutely terrifying. It likes to hide for long stretches of time, and scared the shit out of me more than once upon leaping, reaching, grabbing, or stabbing from out of the shadows. Although it’s hard to come up with an anthropomorphic killer battle droid with an industrial feel that isn’t a total ripoff from Terminator, the Mark 13 does have some nice details in its design that differentiate it from the T1. This thing never wore a skin suit to try to pass as human. All this thing has ever done is brutally murder people, and it’s almost unstoppable.
The characters are mostly really great. Space Marine Mo is a cocky idiot who doesn’t understand his artist girlfriend Jill. Jill is the one who gets locked in her apartment with the killer robot and goes all Ellen Ripley on the thing. There’s Shades, the clever best friend who might be the best human being in this movie. And then there’s Lincoln.
Lincoln is what makes this movie kind of hard to watch. As in, my boyfriend felt it necessary to check to see if I was ok with watching the rest of the movie. Not the gore, or the violence, or any of the intense dystopian themes, just creepy, disgusting Lincoln. This guy is Jill’s pervert neighbor, who spies on her regularly and gets off watching her have sex with Mo. I wanted to throw up every time he spoke.
However, the audience is supposed to hate Lincoln, and because it succeeds so well in making us hate him, I can’t say that the evil killer robot’s actions were entirely bad. If you’re sensitive to that kind of thing, skipping all of his scenes will not detract from the rest of the movie.
That being said, we laughed a lot during Hardware. This movie is over the top in that specific way that only movies from the late 80’s and early 90’s could easily get away with. Even with the creep character grossing me out right up until his fantastically messy death, I enjoyed the hell out of Hardware.
If you find yourself in the mood for some old school science fiction horror, Hardware is waiting for you on Netflix right now.