Even though I am a committed fan of the “slasher” movie, a horror sub-genre where a group of [relative] innocents are hunted down and killed one-by-one by a monstrous, remorseless entity, I honestly believe that these violent tendencies do not follow me from screen to real life.
However, it’s Monday morning and as I stand on an overcrowded tube sitting motionless in a tunnel due to delays caused by ‘planned engineering works’ and a man in a £3,000 suit casually reads his newspaper and tuts at a heavily pregnant woman standing in front of him because her bump has just invaded his territorial bubble, my thoughts naturally turn to brutality and slaughter.
So, with the imminent cinema release of The Hills Have Eyes II (nuclear mutants) and The Breed (genetically-modified killer dogs), I thought it was about time to revisit one of the most extreme British movies ever Richard Stanley’s Hardware (killer-droid-rebuilt-from-household-appliances-goes-on-rampage).
Set in a post-apocalyptic London, a nomad wanders in from the desert with a robot’s skull. Moses buys the curio and gives it to his sculptress girlfriend Jill as a gift for her latest artwork. However, the head is much more than just a pretty centrepiece it is the remains of MARK13, a lethal government robot used for “population-reduction”.
Lo and behold, as soon as Jill goes to sleep the robot starts to rebuild itself using anything available - and being a sculptor in metal, Jill has a few more hazardous items than just spoons or forks liberally strewn around the apartment
Desperately bleak and gruesomely inventive, its nearest thematic neighbour is obviously The Terminator, although influences such as Soylent Green, A Boy and His Dog, Halloween and Psycho are also evident.
Its low budget is not a hindrance either [it was reportedly made for less than £1m] with most of the action taking place in Jill’s cluttered, maze-like apartment, the intense darkness of the cinematography hiding any cheapness in the sets or designs.
And MARK 13 itself is a creation worthy of any nightmare remorselessly logic-driven, capable of reanimation using nothing more than a toaster and a power cable, and an array of bladed weaponry that would make Freddy Krueger head for the B&Q power tools aisle.
With a pounding rock soundtrack including Iggy Pop and Lemmy from Motorhead (both of whom have cameos in the film), this is a no-holds-barred, truly extreme and truly British horror experience, the likes of which we have not seen before or since.