The Film (4.5/5)
It was recently reported that at a press junket for one of his newer releases actor Dylan McDermott was questioned about Hardware rather than reply he gave the reporter a dirty look, and walked away. This surprises me, because Hardware to me is not one of those films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation or Leprechaun that one would be compelled to keep off his/her now A-List resume. Hardware at least to me is a visual masterpiece of post-apocalyptic science fiction.
Hardware takes place in a society that is suffering from the fallout of some nuclear conflict. It is a society of the very rich, and the very poor. The very rich are able to survive in sealed up apartment complexes high up from the ground, and secured from the dangerous world below. This is where Jill (Stacey Travis) lives.
Jill is a sculptor whose boyfriend Moses(Dylan McDermott) has recently returned from his work with the Corps. Upon arriving in the city, he is offered a cyber skull from a zone tripper, and decides to buy it for Jill to incorporate into her art. Unfortunately, for Jill, Moses, there friends, and neighbors the skull belongs to a military prototype cyborg called Mark-13, which has the ability to reassemble itself from whatever parts it has access to. It rebuilds itself inside Jill's apartment, and begins to execute it's primary function.
Severin has done an amazing job cleaning up Hardware for this blu-ray release. They have presented the film with a 1080p 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The transfer for this film is practically flawless. There is a slight trace of grain here, and there, but nothing distracting. Of course the video footage looks like video footage, and really cannot be improved upon. However, the rest of the film is nothing short of a revelation.
Severin has presented Hardware with 2 audio options, a Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 soundtrack in English. Sadly, no subtitles are included, however, the sound is excellent throughout the disc without any noticalble instances of noise or popping on the tracks. The dialogue is crisp, and clear, and the score explodes from the speakers.
The A/V job done on this release being so good, it is practically a selling point on it's own. But the extras elevate this to a must-buy Blu-ray. The disc is so fully loaded, you could spend a good half of a day going through them all. There is a really amazing commentary by Richard Stanley and Norman Hill of Subversive Cinema the distributors of Dust Devil: The Final Cut. Richard Stanley goes into extensive details on the production, it's influences. This is an excellent commentary that would make a good listen for both fans of the film, and aspiring filmmakers.
Severin have also included a documentary titled No Flesh Shall Be Spared which runs a little less than an hour, and interviews the primary cast and crew of Hardware. If that wasn't enough Severin has been kind enough to provide us with Richard Stanley's early shorts/student films Incidents in an Expanding Universe, Rites of Passage, and his recently shot 2006 short The Sea of Perdition. Closing out this set is a one-on-one interview with Richard Stanley on the subject of a Hardware sequel, trailers for the film, and about 30 minutes of extended/deleted scenes. This IS THEE ultimate Hardware package.
When Hardware was released in the early 90's to mixed reviews, I had heard more griping about the film, then anything positive. When I saw it years later, I was surprised. Hardware was truly great post-apocalyptic minimalist sci-fi. It had beautiful Argento/Bava-esque lighting, great acting, story, and design. This film is not only a visual wonder, but it is simply an excellent piece of science fiction cinema. Severin has really outdone themselves with this Blu-ray release. It is fully loaded with anything one might ever want to know about Hardware. Severin has really jumped into the blu-ray arena with full force, and have made this release a must-buy.