movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link — bit they don’t actually have it! Yet…] [Wikipedia link] [Fansite link – includes soundtrack]

A cult classic from 1990 — I managed to pick up some German DVD of this, which is quite the rare item. It may or may not be a legit release. It’s long been out of print. It has an interview not included with the VHS, but the menus look like something some script kiddie made. This release unfortunately seems to have been cropped to 4:3 (1.333:1 fullscreen), even though Netflix lists it as 1.85:1 (i.e. properly widescreen). But maybe Netflix is wrong. I’ll have to check my VHS recording someday. Apparently it IS coming out on BluRay and on dvd (R2) in June of 2009.

LIMERICK REVIEW: There once was a stoner artist named Jill.
Whose boyfriend brought home a robot made to kill.
The sculpting montage was fun;
But soon she was on the run.
It turned out to be part of the population control bill.

HAIKU REVIEW: Never drop acid
when trying to save your friend
from killer robots.

PEOPLE: The first of two major feature films directed by South African filmmaker Richard Stanley… Though he has done other lower budget films, documentary films, and full-length music films for the band Marillion. He was interviewed in 2007: http://notcoming.com/features/richard-stanley-interview/ and in 1997: http://www.horschamp.qc.ca/offscreen/Stanley.html.

Starring hottie Stacey Travis (Ghost World, Traffic, Earth Girls Are Easy, “The Wink” Seinfeld episode, Intolerable Cruelty), her boyfriend Dylan McDermott (The Practice, Party Monster, Jersey Girl, and Hamburger Hill [my first date movie!]), Irish actor John Lynch as his friend Shades. And William Hootkins (The Island Of Dr. Moreau, Superman 4, Radiers Of The Lost Ark, and “Red Six” in Star Wars [!]) as the ultra-creepy voyeur “Link”.

With small cameos by Lenny, leader of Motorhead, Iggy Pop as a voice-only radio announcer (“And the good news is… There is nooo fucking good news!”), and Carl McCoy, singer of Fields Of The Nephilim, as The Nomad.

VISUALS: Flipping through TV channels in post-apocalyptic movies is always strange. Remember the “future TV” in THX-1138 that became the opening sample for Nine Inch Nail’s Mr. Self Destruct? TV in this movie is equally disturbing, containing clips from GWAR, Einsturzende Neubauten’s 1/2 Mensch, and clips reminiscent of (but NOT from) Testuo The Iron Man.

An incredible triumph of style over substance! Not that there is no substance — there is. But style seems to take a definite forefront to substance in this movie. The music, the lightning, the computers (which are reminiscent of the computers in Max Headroom:20 Minutes Into The Future, or the movie Brazil), the camera angles, the flickring lights, the fractal hallucinogen shots — are all great triumphs of style in this movie.

Movies this cyberpunk fit pretty squarely in with today’s goth culture. I could see this being played on a screen at a goth club, and people standing around it in complete motionlessness.

QUIRKS: A society with legal drugs. Jill smokes “Happy” cigarettes — legal marijuana. Shades drops acid before the conflit starts, and is tripping during the entire movie. (“That’s some serious.. fuck ’ems!”) You don’t see alcohol anywhere. Just the pot and LSD.

Originally given an X rating, though this is totally undeserved.

Based on a 2000 AD comic short story called SHOK! Walter’s Robo-Tale — which was apparently only 7 pages long.

Quite politically relevant, even in today’s standards. Nuclear war. Population control. Global poverty. Your typical cyberpunk elements.

Won the 1991 Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival award for best special effects, the Brussels International Festival Of Fantasy 1991 Silver Raven award, and the Fantasporto 1991 International Fantasy Film Award for Best Director (and nomination for Best Film).

SOUNDTRACK: Soundtrack includes “Stigmata” by Ministry. This is possibly the best use of a heavy industrial song in any movie ever, and it’s pretty much one of my favorite Ministry songs ever. They play GWAR on a TV while the song is playing, too! This is more or less my favorite music montage of any movie ever. A frickin’ inredible song played while using a blowtorch to create an amazing piece of art situated around a robotic head. You can actually download the entire soundtrack at the fansite HERE.

The closing credits is “The Order Of Death” by P.I.L. (with Johnny Rotton of the Sex Pistols) — “This is what you want; This is what you get.” repeated over and over.

It also includes “The Ace Of Spades” by Motorhead (played in the movie by Lemmy, using a cassette player in the taxi he is driving), and 2 Iggy Pop songs.

It’s also interestingly scored by Simon Boswell, with strange synth music that gives it a very unique feel.

POLITICS: The government is not always acting in your best interest. Population control has been on their agenda for some time — since before the inception of this movie. As we move closer to running out of resources due to over-population, the population control agenda will inevitably grow. We may someday be considered collateral damage in a war on ourselves — a war to make sure our resources don’t run out.

BAD STUFF: Not a high-budget movie. The effects look pretty 1990. Not many characters, either. And it’s hard to find. Many people who saw this in the theatres in 1990 walked out. Many hated this. But I’ve never found a soul who’s ever watched it and not loved it. 50% of people rate it 7 or higher on IMDB. Nonetheless, there are those who hate this film. Whether you are one of them is a matter of taste.

CONCLUSION: Rated only 5.4 on IMDB (though 50% of people rate it 7 or higher).

I give it a 9/10 on IMDB and 5/5 stars on Netflix. This should be part of the cyberpunk film bible, of such a thing existed.

RECOMMENDATION: I think anyone given opportunity to see this should take said opportunity, and am willing to loan out my VHS or DVD to friends.

SIMILAR MOVIES/SHOWS: Blade Runner. Max Headroom:20 Minutes Into The Future. The Terminator. Even Robocop and the movie Brazil have similar aspects.

Here’s hoping Hardware 2 gets produced someday! Maybe the blu-ray release will stir up some interest? Unfortunately, the fact that the intellectual property rights are split between multiple entities is yet another way in which intellectual “property” laws have deprived us of the very art they were meant to protect.

MOVIE QUOTE: “Oh we all walk the Wibberly-Wobberly walk.
And we all talk the Wibberly-Wobberly talk.
And all we all wear Wibberly-Wobberly ties.
And we look at all the pretty girls with Wibberly-Wobberly eyes.”
(The situation that this quote comes from is WAY creepier than it sounds. WAY creepier. Imagine someone watching you for months, then they come into your house while you’re being attacked and start singing this.)

“No flesh shall be spared.”
-Mark 13, The Holy Bible

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: I assume Dan loved this movie because I think it was him that introduced me to it. Samantha J also loves it. And Dave O and Dirk must too, because when I tweeted about it, they posted quotes from the movie. :) Apparently more people were into this than I remember!

Mood: meh
Music: Tiamat – Evilized