Monday, July 23, 2012

Project Terrible: Hardware (1990)

More sci-fi gold for my next Project Terrible movie! I got fairly lucky during my first round of PT with the unlikely gem Death Machine, but this pick from Robert at Gaming Creatively - Hardware - was not entirely my favorite. And it is terrible in many ways, despite the fact that the movie actually has a pretty loyal fanbase - if anything on IMDb can be believed. Which it can't. So I don't know. Maybe some people like it, but not me.

Hardware takes place in the future (of course) where Earth has become really shitty looking. The temperatures are hot all the time, the water is polluted, and most of the population has radiation sickness or some crap. A drifter finds the remains of a robot head in the desert and takes it to a junk dealer, where it is picked up by Moses (Dylan McDermott) and his friend Shades (because he wears sunglasses all the time - how freaking clever). Mo takes the head back to his girlfriend Jill, who spends all her time locked in her apartment smoking dope and making sculptures out of metal trash. The robot head rebuilds its body with pieces of her sculptures and then it just kind of hangs around until they find a way to kill it. The end.

I don't think sci-fi movies are really my thing. I love the really good and popular ones like Alien, Event Horizon and Dark City, but I always seem to have a hard time getting into these types of movies. Maybe it's because they make me feel a little stupid sometimes with all the technology- and space-talk that is so hard to understand, even if most of it is made up. So Hardware does get a few points from me there for not making me feel stupid and keeping all the futuristic stuff easy to follow. Actually, there doesn't seem to be all that many advancements in technology in this time period. All they have are vid-phones and door locks controlled by computers, supposedly. Oh, and some people, like our hero Moses, have robotic limbs. 

My main gripe with Hardware is that it perhaps could have been better if it wasn't on such a small scale. Once the movie gets to Jill's shithole apartment, it never leaves there. I was thinking that a movie about a killer cyborg robot thing would be at least a little on the epic side with some grand ole fight scenes and whatnot, but not so much here. I wanted to see the thing rampaging around on the streets killing people; instead, he just stays in this chick's apartment and doesn't really do much of anything.

And this is where the movie gets unbelievable and hard to follow. After the robot first comes to life and tries to attack Jill in her bed and she gets away, the robot... just kind of disappears. Um, where did it go and how could a big hunking piece of metal move around all stealthily in such a small space? After the first guy is killed, the robot disappears again, popping up later, unseen and unheard. 

For as boring and slow as most of the movie is, it does manage to throw in some good kill scenes. Okay, there are actually only two good kill scenes but I guess beggars can't be choosers. When Jill's pervy neighbor comes over to "check up on her, the robot is hiding outside her window. He goes to open the blinds (so he can spy on her while she's nekkid some more), the robot grabs him, jabs two metal fingers into his eyes, and drives a drill through his torso. Some good blood spurtage. Later, another dude gets deliciously cut in half by the automatic door in a really nice effects sequence. 

Also disappointing about Hardware is the ending. Both the hero and the robot get anticlimactic and unceremonious death scenes; the former when he is injected with the robots cytotoxin, as it's called, and just sort of sits down and dies. After being blown up and shot numerous times fails to end the robot, Jill finally figures out its weakness and leads it into the shower where it is killed... with water. WATER. You'd think a military-grade weapon like this would have some sort of safeguard against this kind of thing but I guess not. 

For a movie with such a small budget, though, I'm very impressed with the overall look of Hardware. It truly feels like a futuristic wasteland where everything is hard and cold and metal, and nothing is soft or comfortable. The costuming leaves a little to be desired, but the sets are very detailed and believable. The dystopia of this landscape is evident in the fact that everything is rundown and old, with people scraping by with what little technology they have. The overuse of red lighting was a bit annoying, however. It was like, how can we make this look even more bleak and depressing? Red lights! Put red lights everywhere!

Hardware tries, but it didn't really try hard enough for me. Much of the film was very confusing and disjointed and the robot itself was quite disappointing in its abilities and its onscreen actions. There are much, much better sci-fi movies out there than this - but obviously you shouldn't take my word on that since I don't watch a lot of them in the first place. 


  1. I saw this movie and reviewed it for a small review newsletter I was putting out when this movie came to video. HATED it. HATED HATED HATED it. It completely rips off the Avengers villain Ultron - a robot that is really hard to kill - and which had recently (when this movie was made) come back into the comics when someone found Ultron's head and took it home as a weird souvenir - whereupon Ultron...oh wait, you already know...because you saw this movie THAT COMPLETELY RIPPED THAT COMIC STORY OFF. Like you - HATED they stayed in the apartment; HATED the stupidity of the characters. And I remember mentioning that the method of disposing of the robot was just stupid in my review. Argh! Just writing this has brought my blood pressure up!

    Nice review Michelle! I'm off to get a massage so I can calm down!

  2. Victory! After you actually liked Death Machine--don't take this the wrong way--I was really hoping this would be awful. So, I'm happy, at least.

  3. Love it or hate it - I just love this movie! I was surprised when I saw that you got this cult classic. It's not perfect but there's something about Hardware that is deeply fascinating.

  4. I agree with Maynard! I am a LOYAL fan of this awesome killer robot flick! Though the body count really did needed some work, but hell, I really love that MARK-13 cyborg!

  5. Did Not care much for the "Fat Man".....But really enjoyed watching the scenes with the "Robot"...I know of Ultron ( Even have the action figure From the "Vault" line )... I know much more on Dc Villains and some of those from Marvel Overall the storyline was more than a bit lacking... watch it for the robot effects... that is about the "best" thing that I can say about this film.... ( I also liked "Saturn 3".... )