Richard Stanley’s brutal sci-fi horror film is so much more than just a “low-budget Terminator,” which is how it’s been described (and somewhat dismissed as) over the years. Sometime in the 21st century, most of the earth has been reduced to a radioactive wasteland, with scavengers combing the desert for pieces of the old world to bring back to the slums (think The Road Warrior mixed with the music video for Tom Petty’s “You Got Lucky” and you kind of get the idea); through this brave new world travels Mo (Dylan McDermott), a soldier in some unspecified war heading home for the Christmas cease-fire. He buys the remains of what seems like a harmless android from a junk dealer and presents it as a holiday gift to his industrial artist girlfriend, Jill (Stacey Travis); it ends up that the thing is actually a M.A.R.K.-13, the key component of a secret government plot for mass genocide (as illustrated by the Bible quote it’s named after, “No flesh shall be spared”). Thanks to its self-repair function, the robo-killer’s soon on a rampage in Jill’s apartment, making short work of the peeping tom neighbor (William Hootkins, delivering a particularly psychotic performance) as it looks to follow through on its original programming: get rid of the surplus population. Stanley’s glowing, polluted color palette is sometimes hard on the eyes, and he goes a bit heavy on the religious and political symbolism (way heavy, in fact), but Hardware remains a startling, intelligent and seemingly uncompromised piece of work — one that will have you singing Public Image Ltd’s “The Order of Death” for days after.
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