Sunday, 30 October 2016

More Hardware

Long-time readers will know of my love for Richard Stanley's 1990 dystopian masterpiece Hardware. I was googling away recently and found that new photos of the Mark 13 prop have been uploaded to the internets. They are below, but come from this site here.

Stanley wisely followed in Ridley Scott's footsteps and kept the killer robot in the shadows, in pieces or confined by close-up shots. It's therefore difficult to ascertain the exact nature of the beast so the emergence of these photos is quite exciting. The page is cautious in the language it employs, being careful not to claim that it's a screen original but it certainly does look very accurate. You can make out some tiny 'dings' on the bridge of the nose which match those in the screengrab below I made from the movie.

It's long been common knowledge that Hardware was 'inspired' by a 1981 2000AD strip called Shok! I had never seen the strip before, but found it in its entirety here. It's interesting to note some of the aesthetic similarities between the strip and the movie - the curly-haired protagonist, the head-up-display images, the skeletal robot missing its legs with its weird dragonfly larvae underslung mandibles. Most notably, the robot's claw-like hand appears almost verbatim in the movie, and indeed plays quite a part in the film's more expanded plot.

Returning to the prop, for me there's something timeless about the stars and stripes graffiti. I clearly remember the skull being used as a marketing image for the movie and it's one of those powerful visuals I'll always carry with me. It nicely sums up much of the setting - a dystopian future in which the American dream has died but its carcass (a nuclear war and the automata which it spawned) continues to maim humanity in the same way the robot just won't die.

In the words of Angry Bob, "Rise and shine, folks, it’s a beautiful day… just look at that sky, it’s a work of art!"


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  2. Whoops, deleted my earlier post. The painted skull is the coolest thing in Hardware, to my mind. I used it as a concept when doing some Necromunda terrain recently. Good to see it's being remembered!

  3. It's interesting that the flag graffiti also forms a Japanese flag on one side and a night sky on the other...

  4. To my shame, I always dismissed this film as "Max Headroom" type knock off. I just finished watching it a few hours ago, then listened to the soundtrack for a few hours more while painting.

    Thanks for the nudge :)

    I'll go check out the 2000AD that inspired it now.


  5. @Dapper - Yes, I had forgotten that. The world in which the story is set is very post-Bladerunner and post-Neuromancer, where there's lots of Asian script about so it's clear there's been a lot of cultural exchange.

    @The One - Now you have to check out 'Dust Devil' which is, in many ways, a superior movie. Awesome soundtrack too!

    1. Will do :)

      I don't know why, but the Dust Devil images that I've seen so far have reminded me of the Luc Besson film "Le Dernier Combat". That's a cool movie too :)


  6. Good stuff, i remember being so shokked , pardon my pun , that a movie had been made of that future shokk , walking home from school with my mates and i saw that poster in a video shop window , my mates Wouldn't believe me that it was from 2000ad and for years i thought i was the only person to know where the idea originated. Ha ha

  7. @Neil - Ha! Yes, in the pre-internet days if was often difficult to corroborate lineages and inspirations. It's only been more recently that I've discovered how influential 2000AD was. The documentary 'Future Shock' on the publication is awesome by the way.