Movie Magazine

Headbanger Movie Review

By Mad Professor Mike

Hardware (first ever Headbanger Review!)

UK - 1990

(Note: A BLAST FROM THE PAST!! The first ever Headbanger Movie Review by Mad Prof. Mike)

HARDWARE has got to be the most derivative Sci-Fi flick to come out in that last decade. It's a shame, too, because in among the drek are elements of a true headbanger classic. Punk godfather Iggy Pop acts as a kind of mutant Greek Chorus; Lemmy of Motorhead has a hilarious cameo as a disgusted cab driver lamenting the good old days when you could walk the streets safely with a switch blade or brass knuckles. Also thrown in are GWAR, and Al Jourgenson's shock-attack band, MINISTRY screeches and clangs on the soundtrack for a good three minutes of screen time.

What ultimately kills HARDWARE is that it's too damned hip for its own good. The plot--such as it is--goes something like this.... Hero finds head of killer android in junk shop. Hero gives head to metal-sculptress girlfriend. Head comes alive and builds itself a new body. Head and body kill people for rest of movie. Now, this is a perfectly fine plot for the kind of "no brains, no pains" movies that I adore. But writer/director Richard Stanley got his start in music videos, and he brings the same slickness and precision to HARDWARE, thus ruining the movie.

The medium is the message, after all. And Stanley's ultra-fast editing, pyrotechnic lighting and camera tracking are all just too damned fancy for this kind of junk food for the brain. It's sort of like eating Cracker Jacks from an engraved sterling silver platter from Tiffany's; you really can't dig in and get your fingers dirty. HARDWARE would still have been an OK movie if it did not steal so shamelessly from other (much better) Sci-Fi movies and novels. The film is stitched together like a Frankenstein's monster--chunks are stolen from Phil Dick, George Orwell, J. G. Ballard and Rex Miller. The android looks like THE TERMINATOR, hunts like the PREDATOR, and is photographed like the ALIEN.

At times, the multi-layered level of plagiarism in HARDWARE becomes surreal. Suspense is built up as the android stalks our unsuspecting heroine by quick cutting to other horror movies that she watches on TV while flicking channels. Later, she tries to communicate with the android via computer in a scene ripped off from Roger Corman's rip off of ALIEN, FORBIDDEN WORLD.

HARDWARE is not so much film making by the numbers as it is film making by collage. As a movie experience, it's like chewing gum you've left on your bed post overnight; what should be a guilty pleasure proves to be ultimately flavorless. (NOTE: No headbangs given, as I had yet to start awarding Headbangs! "I was so much older, then. I'm younger than that now.")

© 1990 - Michael Marano - Air Date: 9/90

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