aka: Genetic Warrior, M.A.R.K. 13
Director: Richard Stanley
Starring: Carl McCoy, Iggy Pop, Dylan McDermott, John Lynch, Stacey Travis
It activates it exhilarates… it exterminates
It is the near future and the world has become a post-apocalyptic wasteland after a nuclear war and society as we know it have broken down. Moses “Mo” Baxter is a ex-soldier turned scavenger who buys the remaining body of an android and gives it to his girlfriend Jill.
She is an artist who turns destroyed electronics into art and use the android body into a piece. What they were unaware of was that the android was a Mark-13 military unit, designed to kill every human it comes close to. The android comes back to life and now everyone close by is in great danger.
Hardware is very loosely based on the 2000 AD comic book story Shok! by Steven MacManus and Kevin O’Neill. It is a film that has been unavailable for a long time due to right issues, but has finally been given the treatment it deserves by Severin the later years with both a DVD and Blu-Ray release.
Hardware is a very ambitious project on a low budget. It becomes very clear that this world is thought out to the smallest detail, even though they are unable to give us more than a few glimpses of it. While it was made in a period where other films had already used this type of setting, it still feels like a fresh and original world to me. It is a shame that they didn’t have a big enough budget to expand the story in this film a little more since it becomes a little confined since it mostly takes place in Jill’s apartment.
There is a sense of fear of the future and the rise of computer technology at the time. There is a sense of no hope amongst the people and a feeling that while things have turned bad, it is more likely that it will become even worse soon. Director Richard Stanley was very successful in translating his own thoughts into the film and that’s a big part of why the film works. Since the story is very simple, he puts a lot of focus on the visual details of the film and even has some scenes with a color scheme inspired by the Italian maestro’s Mario Bava and Dario Argento. Most of the crew came from the music video scene and that’s easy to see in the way the movie looks and might also put some off of the film.
Surprisingly enough, Dylan McDermott plays the bad ass Mo. I’ve never been a fan of the guy, but he did a great job in this one as the ruthless ex-soldier. His girlfriend Jill is given the best performance of the film by Stacey Travis. She is a strong female character and a true survivor, and I wish Travis did some more horror films (she has only been in a few, including Phantasm 2 and Doctor Hackenstein) since she obviously has the chops to be a scream queen. William Hootkins also delivers an awesome and creepy performance as the fat and perverted neighbor to Jill. John Lynch has an interesting character called Shades, but he is sadly underused so we don’t get to know his story. Oh, and there’s also a cameo by Lemmy from Motorhead and a voice over by Iggy Pop.
I also wanna add that there is some great music scores for this film and a very haunting use of the song The Order of Death by Public Image Ltd., which will stay with you for days after the movie is over.
Hardware is a very interesting film that might not have the greatest script, but if you are willing to add to it with your own fantasy you might find it quite enjoyable. It’s easy to see the passion behind this project, so even if it is uneven and flawed I still liked it and think it is worth watching.