Episode XIV: Destroy The Machines, or: Why, William Hootkins, Why?

Greetings cynics and outcasts, and welcome back to Horror Business, the podcast that desperately wants to be taught how to smash those metal motherfuckers to junk. We have one heck of an episode in store for you, our dear listeners, because we love you and strive to bring the best horror podcast we possible can.

This episode we deal with the concept of robotic horror, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Our films for this episode were 1990’s Hardware, directed by Richard Stanley, and 1994’s Death Machine, directed by Stephen Norrington.

We begin as always by talking about some of the recent horror films we’ve seen. Justin rambles on about 2016’s The Shallows and reveals his crippling fear of the ocean (and a near encyclopedic knowledge of Travis Walton’s supposed abduction by aliens in 1975) and is berated by Liam for his apparent weakness. He then talks about 2016’s The Monster and 2016 Green Room, at which point the latter film is dissected further in depth. Liam and Justin discuss their shared background growing up in the punk community and how the film’s Nazi antagonists struck close to home for them as punks in the late ‘90s in PA, and Justin discusses his views on the cheapness of the ‘kill the dog’ trope in horror movies. Liam then discusses finally seeing 1981’s Venom, and how the film blends an animal attack film and a kidnap film into something greater than the sum of it’s parts. We conclude this section by talking about the Letterboxd 2017 Cult Movie Challenge, the details of which we’ll post later on at the end.

The first film we discuss in this episode is Hardware. We begin by giving a brief synopsis of the film and how we were first exposed to the film. We spend a sizeable chunk of time dissecting the aesthetics of cyberpunk, its origins, our personal memories of the genre, and the travesty that cyberpunk birthed: steampunk. The concept of hard-edged sci fi and a ‘used future’ is touched upon. William Hootkins’ grotesque and profane character is briefly talked about. There is more discussion on the nature of cyberpunk and this leads into how Stanley paints a world that is grim yet hopeful. The special effects are discussed, with special attention being paid to the practical nature of the effects, and finally we discuss the pattern of storytelling used in this movie.

The second film in our episode is the 1994’s Death Machine. We open up this section by talking about Norrington’s background (he worked on, amongst other films, Hardware!) and how it is largely unimpressive. We then give a brief synopsis of the film, and then right away begin discussing how this film, while reaching for something noble, fails at delivering anything resembling any real substance. We proceed to pick apart the various failures of this movie, including its ham-fisted nods to horror movie history by naming the characters after famous horror directors. The inconsistency of what genre this films wants to be is discussed, in that there seems to be two movies in one with this movie: one involving Brad Dourif and one involving everyone else. There is a side discussion on the film apparently drawing inspiration from 90s mall punks and how utterly insane and weird Brad Dourif’s character is in this film.

We then move on to the film’s inability to reconcile simple problems in the plot without drawing things out and it’s repetitious and boring nature. The film’s falling back on the “power loader from ‘Aliens’ trope” and failing to use this in a satisfactory manner, it’s subtle racism i.e. a white actor portraying a stereotypical Asian character, and it’s ridiculous Rob Liefield aesthetics are all discussed at length, leaving both Liam and Justin exasperated and ultimately exasperated. We conclude our discussion by complaining about the film’s setting up gratuitous violence and gore and in the end failing utterly on delivering that.

As always thanks to everyone and anyone who checked this episode out, or shared a tweet/shared a post on FB/gave us love by recommending us to someone. We love you forever for listening. Any questions, comments, suggestions for movies and guests, or if you yourself want to join us for a movie viewing or even an episode, can be sent to [email protected]. Thanks again to Justin Miller and Doug Tilley for their technical contributions, Mike Smaczylo for the awesome fliers, and also thanks to Josh “Old Jerusalem” Alvarez for the theme song, and HUGE thank you to anyone who retweeted us or shared something on Facebook that we posted. You can check out the 2017 Cult Movie Challenge on Letterboxd here. Follow us on Twitter at @thehorrorbiz666, like us on Facebook at facebook.com/thehorrorbiz66, and remember to rate, review, and subscribe to us on ITunes! Until next time…thanks!

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