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SHOK! Horror

(Originally appeared in Empire Magazine, Nov. 1990)

The row over whether or not Richard Stanley ripped off large parts of the comic strip SHOK! for his debut feature, Hardware, would appear to have been settled in the affirmative. A statement from Palace Pictures, producers of Hardware, announces that the matter has been cleared up "amicably" and "clarifies" the situation thus:

"After Palace had an opportunity to read SHOK! and Fleetway (owners of the comic strip) to view Hardware, the parties agreed on the terms of a licence to Palace of all film rights of the strip and to the inclusion of a credit on the film acknowledging both Fleetway and the writers of SHOK!" So there we have it...


X-Rating on 'Hardware' thriller film appealed

(Originally published by United Press International, July, 1990)

NEW YORK (UPI) -- A state Supreme Court judge Thursday upheld the X-rating of the controversial Spanish film "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" while castigating the board that issued the rating for stigmatizing unusual films. Justice Charles Ramos' decision came the same day that the film's producers, Miramax, said it would appeal an X-rating issued to its futuristic thriller "Hardware." Two other Miramax films -- "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover" and "Scandal" -- have been officially labeled X. Two other well-known Miramax films, "My Left Foot" and "Sex, Lies, and Videotape," were rated R.

The company released "Cook" and "Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down!" without ratings, and "Scandal's" director revised the film to garner an R rating. Ramos noted in his decision that the Motion Picture Association of America's rating system focuses violence, nudity, drug use and sex, but neglects those who may not share those values. "This court cannot avoid the notion that the standard is reasonable only if one agrees with it," he wrote. "This standard, by definition, restricts material not because it is harmful, but because it is not average fare." Furthermore, Ramos wrote, "for a film not intended for the pornography market, the rating of `X' is a stigma that relegates the film to limited advertising, distribution and income." While Ramos concluded that "Hardware" should remain X-rated, he advised the MPAA to revise its rating system or stop rating films altogether.

"Hardware" producer Joanne Sellar said the rating handed down last week was surprising in that "Hardware" is the same genre as "Total Recall" and "Robocop 2," which did not receive X ratings. "Those other films, which got and R ratings, are no less extreme in content," Sellar said. Writer-director Richard Stanley said the X rating would "severely limit our chances for effective distribution and exhibition." He said the violence in "Hardware" is "exaggerated in the comic-book style and couldn't possibly be taken literally." "It is time the MPAA distinguishes between films that use sex and violence to make a point and films that use them as pornography," Stanley said.

Vicki Rosen, another Miramax spokeswoman, said the production company would appeal the "Hardware" rating at an MPAA hearing in New York on July 30. The film will be released nationally Aug. 31 under the company's Millimeter Films banner.

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