San Francisco filmmaker Ernie Fosselius made the most successful short film of all time in the 1978 Hardware Wars, an inspired, mock-trailer for a nonexistent, cheapo rip-off of Star Wars. It worked like this: instead of C... more »hewbacca, Fosselius offers the Cookie Monster. Instead of Darth Vader's breathy, slightly echoed voice emerging somehow behind that black-mask helmet, we get a villain whose every ranting utterance is so muffled even this film's Princess Leia equivalent beseeches him, "What? I don't understand you." And so on. Part of the joke is that George Lucas's revolutionary special effects are supplanted by common kitchen gizmos--mixers, toasters--that serve as spaceships and weapons sources. The updated special edition contains 20 computer-generated "special defects" that don't--the distributor boasts--at all match Fosselius's earlier version. Um... right on? --Tom Keogh« less
"My review is specifically about the "Special Edition" of "Hardware Wars." I was thrilled to see a video release of HW, as I have been a fan of the short since its original release (HBO used to show it a lot way back when. I made a tape of it years ago, but lost it). But I was apprehensive when I saw that this version was a digitally enhanced "Special Edition." Sure enough, when the video arrived, it carried a sticker on the case, reading: "Warning: This edition has been created without the approval or consent of Eddie Fossellius." I'm just guessing, but I figured that Fossellius, the director of the original HW, didn't care to have his short film "enhanced," regardless of the satirical intent. The folks who put together this "Special Edition" make a valiant effort to use HW as a way to satirize Luca's digitally enhanced Star Wars Special Edition Trilogy. Unfortunately, the satire doesn't work, and, in some cases, the digital enhancements even spoil the jokes of the original short film. Ironically some of the satire falls flat because the digital effects are too good. In a short that is celebrated for its intentional cheesiness, this is a major error. Another major problem, I think, is one of reference. For a lot of younger viewers, this will be their first exposure to HW, so a lot of the attempted parody of the HW "Special Edition" will be lost on them. I really think it would have helped the humor of the "Special Edition" if the distributors had included the original, untouched version of HW at the beginning of the tape. To be fair, there are a couple of funny original bits before and after the film, but they don't make up for the lost opportunities on the film itself. If you're a fan of HW looking to own a pristine copy of the original film, as I was, you'll probably be less than satisfied, as I was, with this "enhanced" version."
Great film, misleading packaging
Alan Hummel | The Seven Seas of Rhye | 07/04/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"For the film itself, I would give 5 stars. But the packaging is misleading, listing several things that you honestly don't get:
1. "A rare look at a pirated version from 1979": Nope. They just took the film and dubbed some other language over it as a joke.
2. "The never-seen-before director's cut": Nope. They just threw a bunch of extra footage together, such as outtakes, and left the existing soundtrack. For example, you'll see a certain scene repeat multiple times (because the outtakes are now included), but the soundtrack remains the same, so as you are watching one scene, you may be hearing the next. Not a director's cut by any stretch of the imagination.
3. "The shooting script and other original work by Ernie Fosselius": I looked all over the disc for this -- there MIGHT be a picture of part of the script on one screen, but that's it. You do not get the script. Not here. Sorry.
Oh, and the commentary track is a joke. Instead of actually talking about the film, and answering questions that fans have had for years (such as "Who were these people", "How did he get them to be in this film", and "Why such bad hair?"), Fosselius just goofs off the entire time, saying absolutely nothing of interest (or humor for that matter). Great film Ernie, but horrible, horrible commentary, you naughty person!
Recommended for the film itself, but not for any of the things the packaging promises you that you don't acutally get. How about some truth in advertising?"
Classic parody of Star Wars and great extra features
Gus Lopez | Seattle, WA USA | 06/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's great to finally see a classic like Hardware Wars out on DVD in its original form. I remember watching this film many times as a kid when they'd show Hardware Wars between movies on HBO as I was waiting for Smokey and Bandit 3 to come on. I was as engrossed with the Hardware Wars DVD as when I first saw Hardware Wars over 20 years ago -- the timeless special effects and the antics of Artie Deco and 4-Q-2 never get old. In fact, as I kid I was such a big fan of 4-Q-2 that my parents wanted me to stop saying his name in the house. I've been a big fan of the Star Wars films for 25 years and Hardware Wars will always be
the original and ultimate parody even a quarter century later.The best reason to get this DVD are all the exciting Extras thrown in. The "Foreign" version of Hardware Wars is even funnier than the original, and proves once and for all that Darph Nader is impossible to understand in any language. Star Wars collectors will love the interview with Ernie Fosselius, the director of Hardware Wars, where he describes the merchandising behind the film including the highly-coveted coupon for the
Early Bird Kit for the Hardware Wars action figures. I was stunned to see all the lost footage painstakingly restored in the Director's Cut, which is a must for any fan who has seen Hardware Wars many times over. It's a great package packed with many surprises and an essential part of any Star Wars fan's DVD collection."
"You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll kiss three bucks goodbye!"
M. Hart | USA | 01/31/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Not long after George Lucas' original "Star Wars" film took theaters throughout the world by storm in 1977, a very silly 13-minute long parody entitled "Hardware Wars" was filmed in 1978 by writer/director Ernie Fosselius. The parody, designed as a long film trailer, replaces the authentic special effects and models used in "Star Wars" with low-budget replacements, mostly in the form of household appliances. For example, the Lucas' Millenium Falcon in "Hardware Wars" is an electric iron, the Death Star is a waffle iron, an imperial cruiser is an electric mixer, and the squat droid R2-D2 becomes a canister vacuum cleaner called "Artee-Deco". As with Artee-Deco, the other characters from Lucas' "Star Wars" are transformed in "Hardware Wars" as follows: C3PO becomes 4-Q-2 (like the tin-man from the 1939 "The Wizard of Oz"), Han Solo becomes Ham Salad (Bob Knickerbocker), Chewbacca becomes the Muppet-like Chucilla (similar to the "Sesame Street" cookie monster), Princess Leia becomes Princess Anne-Droid (Cindy Furgatch, who wears round rolls on the sides of her head), Luke Skywalker becomes Fluke Starbucker (Scott Mathews), Obi-Wan 'Ben' Kenobi becomes Augie 'Ben' Doggie (Jeff Hale) and Darth Vader becomes Darf Nader, who is impossible to understand due to his welding-style helmet.
Clearly, not everyone who watches "Hardware Wars" finds it funny; but for most sci-fi aficionados, it's totally priceless! One of my favorite scenes is the equivalent of the demonstration of how powerful the Death Star is: instead of blowing up the planet of Alderan, it blows up the planet of Basketball (a literal basketball). Equally ridiculous and funny is the intentionally bad and sometimes melodramatic acting. Of course, you don't want to miss the exciting special effects of "dyna-space", as presented in "Hardware Wars". Consequently, for being a completely hilarious spoof of "Star Wars" filmed on a meager budget of $8,000, I rate "Hardware Wars" with 4 out of 5 stars. It is interesting to note that Ernie Fosselius provided some voice work and some other miscellaneous work in Lucas' 1983 film "Star Wars VI: The Return of the Jedi". Clearly, George Lucas was not upset with Fosselius' parody."
The epic space saga lightyears ahead of its time
Clive Young | New York | 04/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If Star Wars inspired a generation of kids to become film directors, Hardware Wars probably inspired them to just get on with it. Although it was really a professional production made to look cheesy, HW in fact has a wonderful DIY, indie vibe to it. Seeing an iron fly overhead on wires is the film equivalent of the famous "Here's three chords; go start a band" zine page from the early days of punk rock. And dang if it isn't still funny. Most of the jokes hold up, and a few have even improved with age ("You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll kiss three bucks goodbye" now elicits a nostalgic snort in a world where 1977's ticket prices buy a gallon of gas today). HW on DVD is definitely worth the money--you get a bunch of oddball additions, including Ernie on a local cable show in 1980 obstensibly talking about the movie but just kinda going off on some goofy comedy (oh, and he IS involved with this rerelease, unlike the Special Edition version a few years ago; his stamp is all over it!). Some of the additions like the director's cut fell flat for me, but humor is subjective. My only complaint is that I greedily would have liked to get the Special Edition version on there, too, but it is MIA. Since the DVD only runs an hour, certainly there was room, but perhaps since it was done without Ernie's input, it got canned. A shame, but otherwise, this is a lot of fun and easily worth kissing three bucks-plus goodbye to get it."