Directors Ridley Scott and James Cameron have got to be the twin godheads of recent sci-fi B flicks. Without the former’s Alien and Blade Runner and the latter’s Aliens and The Terminator, all those cheapies larding the video store shelves wouldn’t have punk-industrial sets, ravenous space beasties, traitorous cyborgs, or a thick air of hip paranoia. Instead, they’d be Star Wars knockoffs.
Richard Stanley’s Hardware is a simon-pure Terminator/Alien clone: Killer droid terrorizes woman in grungy futuristic condo. So obsessively visual that plot never becomes an issue, this cult-ready screamer was made by what appears to be extremely clever design students on pep pills: Every shot, every set, every line of dialogue is draped in deluxe sophomore nihilism (and occasional ultraviolence: squeamish folk beware). Star Stacy Travis makes a gritty and sexy heroine amid all the attitude, and you’ll have trouble taking your eyes off the screen, but in the end Hardware is impressive only for the way it manages to coast on brilliant style for so long. It’s as shiny as its robot villain, and just as hollow. C+