Friday, June 2, 2017

Escape From New York and The Terminator with a Dash of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, or Thoughts on Hardware

From writer and director Richard Stanley, whose career would implode a mere 6 years later with his firing from The Island of Doctor Moreau (1996), Hardware (1990) was a visionary post-apocalyptic sci-fi horror movie that achieved Blade Runner (1982)/Fifth Element (1997) levels of world-building while telling a relatively simplistic story about an artist stalked by a killer robot while trapped in her high-tech industrial artist’s loft.
Stacey Travis from Phantasm II (1988) and Earth Girls Are Easy (1988) is Jill, the artist, while a very young Dylan McDermott is Mo, her boyfriend who buys a surplus robot head from a desert scavenger.  It turns out to be a military robot from a forgotten war or maybe The War, a rusted metal skull that Jill paints an American Flag on like it’s a helmet out of Easy Rider (1969).  It’s hard not to compare the robot to the T-800, especially after it boots up and builds a body out of all the convenient spare parts lying around Jill’s apartment. (Jill makes sculptures).
With an Iggy Pop cameo as the DJ Angry Bob and grungy 80’s tech, all keyboards and thick CRT screens, it’s hard to imagine a simpler time when we imagined in the future we’d be more concerned with radiation levels and self-aware robots wanting to kill us.  The movie has a look of a 2000 AD comic, so much so that 2000 AD sued for a screen credit.  Also watch out for Ian Klimster, who you and I know as Lemmy, as the water-taxi driver.

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