There’s cult movies and then there’s Hardware.
Hardware was released in 1990. Contrary to what some people in the included documentaries say about the success of the movie odds are you’ve never seen Hardware or you haven’t seen it in a long while. Hopefully, Ronin Flix’s new Blu-ray release will remedy both circumstances.
On the genre scale Hardware is somewhere between post apocalyptic and dystopian. Areas of the United States have become a nuclear wasteland. There’s no pollution controls whatsoever. Radio DJ Angry Bob (voiced by the one and only Iggy Pop) announces to his listeners the pollution creates “colors nature never intended.” The news reports population control bills, sterilization centers, and wars. It’s apocalyptic and dystopian.
It’s in this setting Moses Baxter (Dylan McDermott, American Horror Story) scavenges out a living from the wastelands. Moses, recently discharged from the military, sells scrap to Alvy, the fence. He’s not the only who sells scraps and other things found in the wasteland.
The Nomad, a serious Zoner as they call him in the movie, unknowingly sells Moses the skull and other parts to a M.A.R.K. 13 combat cyborg. We only see the Nomad for a moment in the movie. but his sale to Moses is what starts the movie on its bloody and gory way.
The M.A.R.K 13 is a combat cyborg who’s only mission is to kill. To make matters worse is it can rebuild itself with whatever material is laying around. This makes things seriously dangerous for Jill (Stacie Travis, Easy A) , Moses’s girlfriend and recipient of said M.A.R.K 13 parts, when the killer cyborg activates itself.
Although in later marketing McDermott’s name gets top billing because he’s the bigger name in the movie, McDermott is not the main character nor is he the star of the movie. The honor of star and main character goes to Travis. Moses for the most part is just as inept as a boyfriend as he is a protector.
Jill is left to defend herself and defeat the M.A.R.K. 13 cyborg. Shades, Moses’s friend, is sidelined with fright. Meanwhile the apartment complex’s security team, made up of two people, are killed. One is torn in half when Jill’s front door slams shut on him. The other one is killed when the first guard discharges his gun on accident as his guts are sprayed on the floor.
There are some odd scenes in the movie that almost throw it off course. The movie introduces Jill’s neighbor Lincoln. Lincoln is a pervert and voyeur. He manipulates his way into her apartment under the pretense of fixing her apartment’s front door. While inside the apartment he starts to talk about her personal life. Jill never questions why or how he knows so much about her life. Lincoln does provide the cyborg with a rather vicious kill.
At times Hardware almost threatens to be a long form music video. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing Public Image Limited’s Order of Death and The Ministry’s Stigmata give Hardware a punk edge it may not have had without the tracks. Simon Boswell’s score is a beautiful mix of synthesized symphonic sound with a Blues guitar layered on top. The score gives the movie an almost horror movie feel.
Ronin Flix’s Blu-ray is a 4K restoration from the original print. 4K restoration does not mean you can’t watch on your normal HD television or use your regular Blu-ray player. However, it doesn’t mean every single scene is going to be pristine, sharp, or clear. The original film is still thirty years old.
Some scenes remain as grainy and blurred as they were when the movie first premiered while other scenes, mostly the scenes where no action is occurring, are crystal clear. Having grainy scenes remain, for whatever reason, is not a bad thing. With the grainy scenes the audience feels like they’re seeing what the M.A.R.K 13 is seeing. Hardware would still be a good movie if every frame was cleaned up, but the charm and over all feel of the movie would not be the same.
Ronin Flix has packed a lot of features on the two disc set. Most of these extras are the same as the extras on the out of print and over priced 2009 Blu-ray. The one new extra is a documentary with director Richard Stanley. Stanley goes over familiar territory on the making of Hardware.
There are a few of major takeaways from the new documentary. The first is that due to legal wranglings between Miramax and Palace Productions Stanley has never seen a dime from anything Hardware. The second big takeaway is before Stanley started making Hardware he had joined a Muslim group in Afghanistan to fight the Russians during their invasion of the country. Finally, Stanley thinks the movie “still works well on psychedelic drugs.” Now that’s a revelation.
Ronin Flix has done a great job packaging the Blu-ray. The slipcase shares the same art portraying the iconic M.A.R.K. 13 skull as the cover of the Blu-ray case. The inside of the case has the same art as the cover on one side and the original movie poster on the other side.
Overall, it’s packaging with some great art.
Hardware may not appeal to some new viewers who may find the movie dated. There are no CGI terminators or spandex clad superheroes to be found in the movie. The movie uses stop action motion to create the M.A.R.K. 13’s movement. There’s also a lot of practical effects in the movie. The computer simulations date the movie, but no less than any other science fiction made in the same time period.
Hardware will appeal to the die hard science fiction fan, but maybe not to the casual viewer.