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Fraser

My Favourite Film

Why I love… Hardware

By Fraser Macdonald | 108 days ago

Until fairly recently, Richard Stanley’s 1990 pulp sci-fi film was a thing of mystery. Now they’ve released it on Blu-ray and Stuff’s Fraser Macdonald reckons you should see it, by hook or by crook.
 
I had to work damn hard to see this film because in 1991, when I first saw it in the video rental shop, I was 14. A fact that the owner of Azad Video Rentals knew very well. Well, he knew that I wasn’t 18. And so hiring videos that held an 18 certificate involved Ewan Macdonald, AKA big brother.
 
This was a complicated procedure that required careful handling. For a start it involved him physically riding into town to get the film and, despite that he just seemed to be lazing about the house, he was apparently “very busy”. And bribery was tricky as he actually owned everything that I thought was awesome.
 
But his weakness was that he enjoyed the idea of being the older brother that had access to things that I did not – and I knew how to play that card. So, in a deal that involved some mowing of the lawn and laying of the dinner table, Ewan Macdonald got on his Raleigh Mustang and went to Azad to get Hardware, the 18-certificated sci-fi film. Which, of course, he wanted to see anyway. And, of course, he was only 16.
 
Losing the plot
Why all this fuss? I didn’t really know at the time, but I liked the cover which had a robot’s head on it, painted with stars and stripes. Plot: we’re in the future. Dystopian, natch. A scavenger man returns from the radioactive wasteland with the aforementioned robot parts, which Moses, played by Dylan McDermott (soldier returning from his tour) buys as a present for his girlfriend.
 
She’s a sculptor, see, so likes this sort of thing. Later, there’s a brief period of animosity where it transpires that he never writes, and an awkwardness where it transpires that she’s probably been sleeping with his mate Shades all the time he was away – but the key thing about this film is music.
 
Heavy going
Jill, for so she is named, and a curiously unfuturistic name it is too, sets to making a sculpture with the robot parts that Moses bought her. During which she puts on the TV, and we hear industrial noiseniks Ministry at max volume.
 
Moses and Shades (who’s still not owned up about the Jill thing) get a water taxi driven by Lemmy from Motorhead, who introduces his own music on a car stereo. “You guys like music? Check these guys out.” Ha! Iggy Pop plays a radio DJ that we hear and never see. And there’s a Public Image Ltd track that pervades throughout. The music is fantastic. Make no mistake: in the future music will be heavy.
 
Oh, and there’s the thing where the robot rebuilds itself using the stuff from the sculpture then goes on a killing spree. And we learn that it’s a population control device. And there’s an anti-religion theme in there, too. But, really, Hardware introduced metal to this 14-year old.
 
Oh, and in other news, I had negotiated a deal with Dad Macdonald about being paid for mowing the lawn.
 

 
Fraser Macdonald is a former editor of, and currently writes for, Stuff magazine
 
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