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The Real Life Adventures of Jon StrippoliHardware (1990)
POSTED BY JON STRIPPOLI, September 30, 2013    Share

October approaches and that means two things. 1). The coolest holiday of the year. 2). Horror movie marathons. I've only been watching horror films for about the past twelve years, and I seem to enjoy ones that are a little on the B-movie side. You know, cult classics that maybe didn't do so well at the box office but still managed to carve out a well deserved cult following. This year I started a week early with the movie Hardware.
Hardware is a sci-fi horror film from director Richard Stanley, the man who brought us the 1996 The Island of Dr. Moreau (a movie that I just added to my "Must Watch" list). It stars Dylan McDermott and Stacy Travis with great (if short) cameos from Iggy Pop and Mark Northover of Willow fame. The movie takes place in a dystopian future where the US is in a constant war with... someone. On top of the war there's rampant pollution, a massive food shortage, and overpopulation. Dylan McDermott's character (a space marine apparently) scavenges the wastelands for old tech to sell. While cashing in he buys a sack of stuff from another scavenger and finds a robot skull. He decides to give the skull to his artist girlfriend (Stacy Travis) and it is eventually revealed that the skull is a self repairing killer robot called The Mark 13. Mark reassembles itself; gore ensues.

I had some problems with Hardware. The idea that the main character was a space marine (where's the power armor and bolter?) wasn't introduced until about halfway into the film. That's something I would have liked to know right out of the gate. I mean, Space Marines are freaking awesome, why bury the lead? Much of the movie takes place in the artist's apartment with just Travis and McDermott in various states of dress and undress. You're introduced to the "complexity" of their relationship by her pretending to be aloof and him forcing nostalgia on her to try and strengthen their connection. Not that any of that matters since the two bone down about three minutes after reuniting. To show you that there are other people in the world, the girl makes a call at some point to a random black guy in football pads who is later revealed to be building security. There's also a super-pervert neighbor character in there for seemingly no reason other than to give you a character to wish death upon.

Let's get to the real meat of this thing. The REAL main character. Mk 13. What's scarier than an unstoppable, indestructable, emotionless killer? One that looks terrifying. Unfortunately the Mk 13 looks ridiculous. Its head is painted like an American flag (admittedly kinda cool and intimidating) and is placed on a body that looks like a trashcan. With an elongated neck, long arms, and stubby legs the robot ends up being sort of awkward looking and goofy. As far as killer robots are concerned, Mk 13 falls somewhere between the Terminator ripoff from R.O.T.O.R. and the killer robots from Disney's Black Hole on the terror scale. If the movie hadn't taked place mostly at night then I would probably have spent most of my time laughing at this silly robot. Mk 13's only redeeming quality is its formidable ability to repair itself. It comes back from the brink of destruction about 5 times throughout the course of the film. You just can't keep a good robot down. Or the Mk 13.

Now I could see how you might think I didn't like Hardware based on some of the things I said above. That, however, is not the case. I think, overall, that Hardware is quite entertaining. The special effects were really quite outstanding for what I can only assume was a shoestring budget. There's something charming about an awkward and clumsy-looking robot one-upping a bunch of people in an apartment. Let me reiterate; THEY ARE IN AN APARTMENT. There aren't exactly a lot of places to hide in a one bedroom, and yet, Mk 13 evades detection time and time again. Mr. McDermott gave a great preformance, all things considered. He was likeable, a bit rogueish, and you really feel for his struggle to truly connect with someone. The deaths are also quite impressive. A guy gets bisected by a blast door! That perv character I mentioned before? He has my favorite death in the film. He gets penetrated to death via a phalic drill. It's just goddamn poetic. And the soundtrack is appropriately dark while still carrying that 80's vibe. The inclusion of Public Image Ltd's "Order of Death" was a fantastic decision.

On a scale of one to five, I'd give Hardware a 2.5. It isn't great but it IS great. Totally worth a watch with some friends.

If you have any suggestions of horror movies for me to check out, just hit me up on The Twitter @PopCultDinosaur.

"The Real Life Adventures of Jon Strippoli" is ©2013 by Jon Strippoli. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2013 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.

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