Retro Review: Hardware (1990)

***No Spoilers***

I will forgive anyone who has never heard of this very different British film from 1990. It had a short cinema release, and went quickly to VHS, where it disappeared almost without trace. Fortunately, it got a DVD release much later, so a new generation of film fans can enjoy it. That’s if they ever get to hear about it, of course. To the best of my knowledge, it has never been shown on TV, though it could possibly be found in the back catalogue of a streaming service.

Written and directed by Richard Stanley, this short film (96 minutes) does pretty much everything right, and benefits from a varied cast that includes Dylan McDermott, and Iggy Pop. It could be called a science fiction film because of the subject matter, but for me it is a straight entry into the Horror genre.

With a robot.

The scene is set in an unspecified, dystopian future. Filmed in part in Morocco, though mainly in East London, this is essentially a very British film, despite the American lead actors inserted by the production company. Hard to review without spoiling the story or revealing the action, I am restricted to an overview, to give some idea.

A former soldier buys some broken parts of a robot from a wandering nomad he encounters at the premises of a scrap dealer. He gives some of them to his girlfriend, who is a sculptor. He later hears from the scrap dealer, with a warning to dispose of them, as they may be parts of a very dangerous robot, something that was part of a clandestine government experiment. Meanwhile, the parts are re-assembling themselves, and it is apparent that the robot is somehow sentient. Once it is fully functional, all hell breaks loose in the girl’s apartment…OK, that’s it. Not much of a review, I grant you. But this is a great little film, devoid of intrusive CGI, and many of the special effects we have taken for granted since it was released.

Even though it is 28 years old, it might be one of the best of its type that you have never seen.
Dated, admittedly. But Retro-fun indeed.

40 thoughts on “Retro Review: Hardware (1990)

  1. I know about this due to a kid on YouTube called Oliver Harper. I also remember the VHS cover from way back. Harper covered how despite the budget there was a lot of thought and ambition in how the film was done.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmmm. I know the title, films like this appeal to me…but for the life of me can’t recall it! So I don’t think I’ve seen it. Aghh my memory!!

    Kudos for finding/sharing the obscure Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmm, I would have thought we’d have heard of it: we were kickboxers who played role playing games and did sword fighting, and I was doing a graduate degree at Durham–how could it have NOT come on our radar??! Oh well–it does sound odd and interesting. Thanks for the review.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Do you know the film about the end of the world, maybe some explosion or bomb or more exotic event that seemed to depopulate the entire planet except it turned out that a man survived, and wandered around some big city and went into stores and apartments and things and had all the food and wealth he could want but was alone, andlater he found that he wasn’t the only survivor…? It may well have been Australian, and not necessarily famous. I forget when it came out, maybe a good thirty years or more, but thought you may know–

            Liked by 1 person

          1. Nope, not that. It is probably quite (as in veryvery) obscure, came out when I was old enough to appreciate it, so let’s say after 1980ish, and features only three people in the whole film. Definitely Australian or New Zealander–

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like a good one, Pete. But at the moment I’ll have to be one of the ‘forgiven’ as I never heard of it before.
    Back in the days when theaters gave you a double-header, 2 movies for one ticket, and I would find I preferred the second, unadvertised movie better than the “new blockbuster cinema release”

    Liked by 1 person

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