Don't waste money or time on this.
I saw Hardware in the theatre when it came out. It was not very good but had a few moments as I recall...its been 26 years, give me a break!
I did not know that it was diirected by Richard Stanley who made the ill fated Island of Doctor Moreau.
Hardware is the kind of film you need to see more than once to embrace. On the first viewing there is every possibility that it may not live up to your expectation. It's scienjce fiction themes hint at a universe with much potential to explore that is never completely embraced, falling back to a reliance on slasher conventions instead. It's easy to see the film very much as a crossover of Alien (1979) and The Terminator (1984) as it's premise entirely centers around a robot hunting everyone in its path. Given the small scale of the story it's fair to make this assesment, and while the film hints at a wider universe with its dystopian layout and clever visuals this potential becomes an afterthought which drifts into the obscurity of sporadic script lines rather than throughout the spectacle of the feature. Clearly Richard Stanley is only capable of exploring so much ground with his limited budget, and while there is no denying the glory that he produces with such budgetary constraints there is all too often a greater reliance on conventional methods of storytelling. In essence there are positive intentions with Hardware as a science fiction film, but its greater ambitions exceed the film's budgetary grasp.
Audiences need to be aware when going in to view Hardware that it is not a science fiction film, it is a slasher. While set in a science fiction context and maintaining much of the genre's iconography, this is not the path that the story follows. Hardware is rather meandering as far as science fiction cinema goes, but it transcends so many standards as a slasher film that it is likely to find much greater appreciation with a horror audience. With that understanding I found much to enjoy out of Hardware and therefore found that the science fiction elements expanded the film's quality beyond the tropes of its slasher context. The concept behind the film is very original, though audiences must pay close attention to understand the wider implications of the universe it occurs within. Hardware cleverly builds up tension as the film hints at the film unveils elements of the post-apocalyptic wasteland humanity has been reduced to while the audience progressively discovers more about the robotic Mark 13 before unleashing it into a barrage of slasher-fuelled violence. Richard Stanley's direction in this all prioritizes things extremely well as he refuses to hold back on the blood and gore, using it with appropriate shock value that doesn't go excessive or come up short of its generic contract. There is also enough nudity to suffice, so Hardware's cult value is well-established within fans of slasher cinema.
As far as directorial debuts go, Hardware is a strong testament to the capabilities of Richard Stanley as a director. Once a creator of music videos, Hardware gains a lot of manic energy from the director's clear passion for the style. Hardware is a powerfully atmospheric film which progressively gains its thrills nicely and rewards audience patience with blood, gore and boobs spread out over its 94 running time fairly well. It never overstays its welcome and the pace of the film is consistent, even when expanding the story context and developing the characters fails to follow it in this regard. But sometimes, the mystery of it all is enough to suffice as an afterthought in the face of its slasher-oriented themes. There also small satirical elements to the film which lighten it in the face of the brutality depicted, and the soundtrack is awesome because it provides intense energy through embedding rock music instruments into some strong instrumental compositions. And even though character development is not a key strong point of Hardware, the cast leave audiences with little to complain about.
If there is anything to be frustrated about its the fact that although Iggy Pop receives fairly large credit for featuring in Hardware, he is actually a mere voice cameo in the start and end to the film which would be easy to miss if you turned away for a second. He has as much relevance to the story as Lemmy, but you don't see him getting the same credit as Iggy Pop. That may frustrate the big fans, but as far as the key actors go Hardware manages to wring some terrified performances out of its cast.
Stacey Travis is the highlight of it all, and not just on the basis of her topless scenes. Stacey Travis proves capable of capturing a consistently paranoid character lost in her own fears before intensifying them even more so for the real terror Jill faces in the story. She is constantly on edge and never loses her fearful energy in the process, keeping active with the natural progression of the story. Stacey Travis' combination of terrified and spaced-out makes her an ideal product of the universe Jill lives in, and she adds reality to the film through her genuine emotion.
Dylan McDermott is also a nice touch. The best parts of his performance come from his chemistry with Stacey Travis because even though the subplot regarding their mysterious relationship is nothing too remarkable, the realism that comes from the distance they share in their interactions gives a more human feeling to this tale of a killer robot. The actor is a man of his natural charms and so even though he doesn't get challenged all that often he remains a likable protagonist who steps and fights for his character's right to survive with dedicated energy. Dylan McDermott does his duty as best as the film can demand.
Hardware doesn't fully capitalize on its post-apocalyptic setting and proves to come up short as a science fiction movie, but Richard Stanley's keen eye for imagery and relentless passion for violence results in a well-paced and thrilling slasher film which transcends many limitations of the genre.