Richard Stanley. writer and director of Hardware, interviewed, Metropolitan explored. plus Exorcist Ill and Shock to the System reviewed.
INDEX: 23 LISTINGS: WEEK ONE 32 WEEK TWO 33
Attack of the Tin Man
Described as a ‘Terminator for the Nineties‘. pop promo auteur Richard Stanley‘s first feature Hardware is a futuristic explosion oftechno-carnage. Nigel Floyd plucked up the courage to visit the set during filming.
Shot on a budget of $1 million dollars at the Camden Roundhouse. a disused North London railway terminal. Richard Stanley's Hardware is a ‘future shock‘ movie that combines the thrills of hi-tech horror with the chills of Gothic gloom. Introduced into metal sculptress Jill‘s (Stacy Travis) studio by her unsuspecting soldier boyfriend (Dylan McDermott). the damaged torso of a prototype military android reconstructs itself using the materials to hand; namely a circular saw. drill bits. scalpels and hypodermic syringes. The bold young lady is about to wake up to a heavy metal nightmare. trapped in her apartment with MARK 13. a killer cyborg that‘s programmed to destroy relentlessly and without mercy everything in its sights.
Until Hardware came along. 26-year-old director Stanley made a living by directing low-budget pop promos for various cult combos including Renegade Soundwave. Pop Will Eat
Itself and the dreaded Fields of the Nephilim. and t
much of his output is crammed with film references calling on the likes ofSam Raimi. Sergio Leone and points between. He‘s quite happy to acknowledge that the box office pulling
power oi‘James Cameron's android double whammy The Terminator and Aliens paved the way for Palace‘s financing of this his debut feature. but insists that his interest lies as much in Hardware‘s moral and political dimension as in its futuristic technology. ‘lt‘s definitely science fiction. but it‘s never fixed in time.‘ he reflects. ‘lt‘s more like a step to the side. A lot of the underlying stuffis recognisable now. The right wing government. for instance. who in order to survive. have basically had to buy into the machine. the monster. and what it represents. Even though they know that it‘s killing people.‘ Meanwhile. back on set. preparations for yet more mayhem are at an advanced stage as a young man with spiky hair is coaxed into a fibreglass MARK 13 suit that dwarfs his slight frame. Beneath a damaged skull-plate decorated
with the Stars and Stripes. two bulbous red eyes
protrude. Below them. a metal mouth gapes open. its dental arrangement an imposing array ofscalpels and syringes filled with pus-coloured liquid. About to meet his doom is actor William Hootkins. cast as Lincoln the neighbourhood voyeur who picks the wrong moment to pop into
Jill’s pad to mend her computer console. ‘these guys saw me as the corrupt cop in Batman.‘ he tells me. ‘and thought I should do this one too. I mean I reckoned l was sleazy and low in that one but this little situation plumbs new depths. Actually the reason I agreed to do Hardware was because there was one line in the script where it said ‘jets of blood and urine cover the screen‘. That attracted me immediately.‘
Stepping up for his appointment with fate. Hootkins fumbles the first take. As MARK l3 lunges through the blinds to attack him the actor is rather concerned about being impaled on its threatening syringes. When he steps back to ask Stanley what exactly it is he wants from the scene. the director returns with a rhetorical question; ‘Well. what would your reaction be ifyou were grabbed by a metal fiend with hypodermics for teeth?‘
Hootkins thinks for a moment. then exclaims loudly. ‘Mother!’
Hard ware ( l 8) plays across Central Scotland front Fri 23 No v. For fart/z er details see Openers and Film listings.
:— Danger UHB
For anyone still labouring underthe delusion that America is the great classless society, writer/director Whit Stlllman’s enterprising debut feature Metropolitan should be something at an t eye-opener. A lormer journalist and I publishing editor, the 38-year-old New l Yorker here litts the lid on the enclosed ' social round at drinks parties and genteel chit-chat in which exist Manhattan's young sell-styled Urban
. Haute Bourgeoisie. As they mingle in elegantly turnished surroundings, discuss Jane Austen and ponder the future of their distinctive but threatened social seam, Stillman captures the ' essence of litestyle (heavily modelled on the English upperclass it would seem) previously under-represented on ourcinema screens. 'I Unsurprlslngly,thetitmmakeradmits - that ‘there’s an element ot autobiography' to the project, though i it's taken him some time since his early t 70s graduation trom Harvard (during [ which period he’s also worked as a tilm i sales agent lorthe Spanish market) to, l
; as he reflects, ‘teel distanced enough
? trom my youth to be able to articulate it with some irony, though I don't think you have to be absolutely tamiliarwith I the New York deb scene to enjoy the
Having pertected the screenplay over a number at years, Stillman explains that ‘we made up tor our lack of resources by shooting these very ornate and beautitul settings. Luckily one at the girls in the tilm was a real deb and her lather let us shoot in this sumptuous apartment. Othertimes we'd set up across the street and lilm the real socialites as . they came out at balls at the Plaza. It's a kind of guerilla lilmmaking. lguess.‘ (Trevor Johnston)
Metropolitan (15) plays the Edinburgh Filmhouse lrom Thurs 29 Nov to Wed 13
The List 23 November— 6 December 1990 21