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Hardware Wars (1977) – DVD Review


Written & Directed by: Ernie Fosselius
Starring: Paul Frees, Scott Mathews, Bob Knickerbocker, Jeff Hale, Cindy Furgatch


  • Running audio commentary with Fosselius
  • Series of comments from producer Michael Wiese
  • “Pirated Foreign Version” from 1979
  • 1978 interview with Fosselius on the TV show “Creature Features”
  • “Director’s Cut” – outtakes and strange alternate footage
  • “Antique Roadshow” Prequel skit
  • Hollywood Gift Catalog by Fosselius
  • Photo gallery

Released by: Michael Wiese Productions
Region: 1
Rating: NR (generally safe)
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format

My Advice: Own it.

[ad#longpost]It’s a story that should be familiar by now: in another part of the galaxy, later that same day, Fluke Starbucker (Mathews)–farmboy and all around goofwad–finds himself in the midst of a battle for the fate of the universe. It seems that the lovely Princess Anne-Droid (Furgatch) has been taken captive by the evil Darph Nader, an unintelligible mean type of fellow. Armed with a flashlight that’s more than just a flashlight (aren’t they all), and assisted by the Red Eye Knight Augie “Ben” Doggie (Hale), the ace pilot Ham Salad (Knickerbocker) and his sidekick the Wookie Monster, Starbucker has to pull the plug on Nader’s evil plans.

Ah, memories. Like the corners of my mind. Misty water color memories…of the way we was. I don’t know enough Star Wars geeklore to say that this is the first parody of the film, but I know it was the first one to gain any major attention–and this was before that pesky thing we call the Internet enabled stuff like the South Park animated flick or even more serious outings like “Duality” to hit.

I want to say that I first saw this film during an episode of Saturday Night Live, but I can’t be too far off–back then we only had three-and-a-half channels to choose from. But regardless, to a young kid who thought Star Wars was the bomb, this parody was the funniest thing in this parsec. The good news is that, especially in this era of prequels and other rigamarole, Hardware Wars is just as funny today as it was when it first came out. And for the record, that’s pretty damn funny. It’s just so ludicrous and out of control, you have to laugh. From the space scenes involving flying irons to the fight using drills as lasers against imperial steamtroopers–it’s just a triumph of twisted genius.

The cast of Hardware Wars

This disc is pretty stacked for a twelve-minute parody short. The results are mixed, though. On the ehhh side, you’ve got the designated “prequel,” which basically consists of an “Antique Roadshow” takeoff that I guess was supposed to be funny. It dragged on long past its welcome, though. If you’re going to do a bit on how the film was “rediscovered,” make a five-minute mockumentary–or well, just something that’s funny.

Also on the non-funny side, unfortunately, is writer/director/head burrito Ernie Fosselius’ running commentary. Staged as a bit where he shows up late, thinks to himself about what a fraud he is because he’s running out of Hollywoodisms, and doesn’t even really recall making the film–it’s just a lot less amusing than the film it’s supposed to complement. Rather than the sham commentary, I would like to have known some actual facts about the making of the film–you know, like whose basement did they film stuff in and…how in the hell did you guys con Paul Frees into taking part?

Hardware Wars: The Director's Cut

While we’re doing the feature round-up, the “Creature Features” appearance is Fosselius pushing the merchandise for the film which isn’t out yet. Oh, well, the merchandise isn’t available yet either–you can get a coupon though. It’s worth perhaps a chuckle or two. Which is more than I can say for the “foreign bootleg” version of the film, which is basically Hardware Wars overdubbed by the Swedish Chef on crack cocaine.

Now–I know you’re waiting for the good part. Here’s the good part. Producer Michael Wiese appeared at Cannes 2001 to promote the film, and his five minutes of humor and comments–some to an audience–were actually worthwhile and informative. It makes you long for a producer’s commentary, to be truthful. The most hilarious feature on the disc, though, would have to be the ten-minute “director’s cut”–which consists of alternate takes, bloopers and general weirdness set to the original soundtrack of the film.

Hardware Wars DVD menu

The main thing is that we have the original film on DVD. Everything else feature-wise that works on this thing is just that, a bonus. Whatever faults the extra stuff has, the people behind the film get points for the sheer insanity behind it–and the film by itself would be worth owning. Buy the thing and chortle.

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