Images courtesy of Evelyn Sweeney
Wrapping up an impressive display for Triple Six Festival’s very first year was the highly anticipated Hardware screening; complete with Q+A session with the iconic and hugely influential director, Richard Stanley himself.
For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of catching Hardware it’s best summarised as a mash-up of Terminator and a classic slasher, tied together by some world building that was years ahead of its time when the film first screened back in 1990.
It was Richard Stanley’s interview itself that helped prove the cultural significance of the film the audience had just viewed. Hosted by Lawrie Brewster, the director of The Unkindness of Ravens, which had screened earlier in the day (which you can read our review for here), Stanley came across as about the most laid back, yet unbelievably interesting person you could hope to meet.
“The idea started growing when I was 12 or 13 years old watching dystopian films” Stanley tells his eager audience, going on to explain he spent “10-15 years trying to get the damn thing made”. He also speaks of the huge number of changes that were made to the film, particularly due to the involvement of Miramax studios. The film was “originally set on a council estate” Stanley explains to the audience’s surprise.
It was particularly interesting to look at Hardware now, more than a decade after its original release, as it often is with films set in dystopian futures. “Still scares me. Drone soldiers are much closer now” Stanley comments on his thoroughly fleshed out setting, going on to suggest that the murderous drone that Hardware depicts would be surely be picked up by an American government in reality, “so long as they’re still capable of killing Mexicans and Palestinians.”
The film boasts an interesting cast including the particularly strong female character of Jill, who not only has to deal with reanimated killer robots, but a particularly creepy stalker who meets a rather satisfying end. Stanley also goes on to explain that the male lead of Mo was even more of a wreck in his original script “all the men are useless in my films” he laughs.
The cast includes surprise cameos that Stanley explains were born of opportunity. “They were just last minute things, other actors stepped out at the last minute. Lemmy [Kilmister]’s part was originally played by Shanaid O’Connor… Iggy Pop literally phoned in his performance”.
Modern influences of Hardware can be seen clearly today. An audience member points out the similarities between the film and the more recent installations of Bethesda Studio’s Fallout titles, while Stanley himself notes that the new Bladerunner 2049 shares a similar aesthetic through it’s depiction of it’s ‘red waste’ theme of post apocalypticia. It was a colour choice Stanley made in response to the blue lighting that became associated so strongly with the Terminator films, trying to distance himself from the blockbuster movie . Stanley describes the costume of the film as “Taking elements of the spaghetti western and applying them to the goth scene”, which at the time had rarely, if ever been done before, and now features regularly both within the film world and prominently within the goth scene.
It’s surprising to hear that “There is a Hardware sequel script written about a year after the first one” that has yet to be picked up by a studio. The film has almost tripled it’s original budget to date and looking around the room at Stanley’s Q+A it’s clear that there’s still an audience, even now, for a sequel. Stanley leaves us with a tease of what’s potentially to come in true horror style commenting “no one from the first film survives the sequel.”