Hardware ★★★★

A fat, sweaty American spies upon the leading lady and masturbates. But enough about executive producer Harvey Weinstein, let's talk about William Hootkins.

It was Hootkins' role as the sleazy neighbour that reminded me that I had indeed seen Hardware back in the 1990s. How I had forgotten almost everything else around him I do not know but, as I slipped this DVD in, I genuinely thought that this was a long-awaited first watch. Based on my limited recollections however, I'm going to class it as such all the same.

I am genuinely astounded that Richard Stanley thought he could get away with passing this off as an original story. It's clearly based on the 2000 AD strip 'Shok!' by Steve MacManus and Kevin O'Neill, but the whole film is so redolent of 2000 AD in terms of its overall look and satirical bent - even down to the design ('Major Good Vibes') of the cigarette packets - that it's influence is blindingly obvious. Nevertheless this is a lovingly crafted film that showcases Stanley's gift and commitment to eye-catching visuals and atmospheric world-building. Unfortunately, it also highlights Stanley's flaws as a storyteller, as the film is simply too slow-paced and has the air of something being strung out solely to fit its 90 minute commitment. Let the visuals take care of themselves and concentrate on the story! Based on that weakness, I'm struggling to rate this one accurately, deliberating between 3.5 and 4. In the end, because its nightmarish video game aesthetic is one that lingers long in the memory, I think I'll plump for the admittedly very generous latter rating. I can see why some people absolutely love this movie, and I can equally see why some people utterly hate it.

Oh, and everyone talks about the rock stars cameos - Iggy Pop's hyperactive DJ Angry Bob, Lemmy's water taxi driver and Fields of the Nephilim frontman Carl McCoy as the nomad - but I want to talk about the fact that the film has not one, but two former EastEnders in the cast; Chris McHallem (himself no stranger to music, having began his career with the punk band the Transmitters) as the fascist dictator Premier Boelgaxof, glimpsed in sinister black and white TV footage, and Oscar James as the unfortunate Chief, dressed in sub-Judge Dredd shoulder pads to make the influence even more noticeable!

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