The October Diaries: Hardware

Illustration by Max Brown
Blurbs by Sean & Christof

October 16th, 2014:

Year: 1990
Director: Richard Stanley
Format: Netflix
From IMDB: The head of a cyborg reactivates and rebuilds itself and goes on a violent rampage in a space marine’s girlfriend’s apartment.

Christof’s Take:

What is good about this movie is really good (the acting by super-creep, William Hootkins & the cinematography by super-peep, Steven Chivers), but what is not-so-good is pretty not-so-good.

The opening has a bit of imagery that is bizarrely similar to Cat People‘s perfect introduction, except instead of a human skull buried in red sand that is being unburied by wind, it was a robot head. After that, it sustained my interest with some ease for a while with the post-apocalyptic setting/premise being presented on some gorgeous images – my favorite is the extreme close-up of Mark Northover’s strangely lit lips – but my level of engagement was tested and lost for the last half hour or more. The second act was treated like it was the third, and when it was over, I didn’t care about the actual third act, which felt like it was a school project slapped together pell-mell an hour before class. It’s a mess and not a very charming one.

The radio voice-over by Iggy Pop is great, but maybe not present enough to make the whole movie worth a watch.

I have a lot of other things to say about this movie, but I kind of resent the idea that it could get any more of my time and energy. But whatdoIknow, ya know?

Hardware 1990 Iggy Pop as Angry Bob

Sean’s Take:

There’s currently a documentary playing the festival circuit that detail’s Richard Stanley’s catastrophic production ordeal with 1996’s The Island of Dr. Moreau (Stanley was booted from a film he put together and apparently vanished into the jungle for a short while thereafter). I thought his 1992 movie, Dust Devil, had a stylish vibe and slick menace but the story felt drifty and sluggish. It exhausted more than it entertained. I had sought out that film based on his previous film’s (Hardware) reputation. There’s a minor cult following around Stanley which is due in large part to Hardware.

I didn’t love Dust Devil and I don’t love Hardware, but I do understand how someone could adopt Hardware as more of a favorite. It’s batty, rude and unconventional. These are all qualities that can be endearing. It offered plenty of unexpected moments and a wonderful voice-only Iggy Pop supporting role (as a post-apocalyptic radio DJ called Angry Bob). But what it didn’t offer was the memorable moments of energetic mayhem that October fans really crave. I’ve had a very hard time writing about this movie because it didn’t leave much behind after it finished. No sensory evidence to sift through and evaluate. I had a good time while watching it but, with the exception of Iggy Pop and a few choice shots, I’m drawing a blank as to what happened during the big action set-pieces.

The actions didn’t have any clear motivations tied to them. I knew no one wanted to be killed by the killer robot (oh yeah, there was a killer robot) but I don’t remember why, at certain moments, the cast seemed to be aware of the robot and the threat it possessed, while during other moments they seem to forget about this danger completely. The movie had a laid-back vibe which I usually appreciate, but the casualness didn’t suit the action on screen during this one.

It felt like a rough draft of a script that escaped peer critique by coasting by on its ambiguity, then ended up being elevated during production by some fun visuals and a cheeky tone. This movie had a lot more going on than I’m currently giving it credit for, and I’m certainly happy it’s unique strangeness has found a niche audience, but it just wasn’t memorable enough to rise above the blur that this month has become.



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