The 1990s Dark R-Rated Cyberpunk Sci-Fi Horror Disappearing From Streaming, Controversial Director To Blame?

By TeeJay Small | Published

Hardware is a 1990 movie written and directed by South African horror director Richard Stanley. Despite the film serving as a cult classic, it is not currently available to stream on any major platform, leaving fans around the world to search endlessly for physical copies, or brave the virus-infested annals of piracy sites.

Stanley has come under fire in recent years for his allegedly abusive behavior, which may be the reason the major streaming platforms seem to view his work as radioactive.

Richard Stanley’s Hardware

Richard Stanley made his directorial debut with the Hardware movie, which premiered to mixed reviews from critics, but saw major success with general audiences.

The film was originally branded with an X rating by the MPAA due to its excessive gore, though Stanley and company were able to successfully adjust their rating to an R.

Hardware is a cyberpunk adventure that explores themes of fascism and blind acceptance of entrenched evil, as inspired by Stanley’s experiences in the apartheid state of South Africa.

Immediate Controversy

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The film premiered to immediate controversy for a number of reasons, including claims of plagiarism. Now-defunct English publishing company Fleetway Comics successfully sued the Hardware filmmakers on claims that the movie was too similar to the short story “Shok!” which premiered in the publication in 1980.

As a result, Fleetway was paid an undisclosed sum, and writers Steve MacManus and Kevin O’Neill were given screenwriting and story credits.

Other Movies Came Later

hardware movie

After finding success with the release of Hardware, Richard Stanley went on to helm a number of other horror movies, including The Island of Dr. Moreau, The White Darkness, and L’autre Monde.

Stanley’s most recent venture saw him tapping Nicolas Cage to lead his 2019 adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story “The Colour Out of Space.”

The 2019 film was originally slated to be the first in a trilogy of Lovecraft adaptations, though Stanley’s career hit a significant snag after the film premiered, after being accused of abusive behavior.

Richard Stanley Allegations

The allegations came from screenwriter and former romantic partner to Richard Stanley, Scarlett Amaris. Via her blog, Amaris claimed that the Hardware movie director had violently beaten her on multiple occasions throughout their years-long romance, culminating in a 2014 incident which saw her filing charges for domestic violence, and assault and battery.

Cutting Ties With The Director

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Following these public allegations, Color Out of Space distributor SpectreVision cut ties with Stanley, vowing to donate all future proceeds of the film to victims of domestic violence.

Despite the many controversies surrounding Hardware and the filmmaker who crafted it, the movie remains a cult classic cyberpunk romp, which would continue to wow audiences today if Netflix, Max, or Peacock would have it.

Hard To Find Hardware

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The film’s legal issues have made DVD prints difficult to dig up, and the 34 years between the premiere and the modern day have flooded the market with a wide array of other cyberpunk outings.

If you’re interested in catching the 1990 film, you may be forced to make a few phone calls to your local thrift store and hope against odds to get lucky.