A look at the history of the classic Star Wars spoof.
2007 marks the 30th anniversary of one of the greatest Sci-Fi properties of all time. “Star Wars?” you say, well yeah. But it’s also the 30th anniversary of the greatest Star Wars satire ever...
Hardware Wars was written and directed by Ernie Fosselius and produced by Michael Wiese on a budget of $8,000 and shot over a four-day period in the San Francisco Bay area shortly after the release of Star Wars in 1977. The premise is simple, a 13-minute fake trailer for a Star Wars movie, only full of common household appliances. Ships are steam irons, egg beaters and toasters, lightsabers are flashlights, blasters are power drills, basketballs are planets, etc.
And starring in this “sprawling space saga of romance, rebellion and household appliances”...
"Intergalactic boy wonder!"
"Venerable member of the Redeye Knights!"
"Interstellar damsel in distress!"
"Ace mercenary pilot and intergalactic wise guy!"
Also featuring space drones 4-Q2 (the Tin Woodsman with x-ray specs) and Artie-Deco (a vacuum cleaner), as well as Chewchilla, the Wookie Monster, which was custom crafted by a puppet designer in Jim Henson’s Workshop, who Fosselius just happened to be friends with.
The spoof also was narrated by legendary voiceover actor Paul Frees, who also provided the narration for the original Star Wars trailer in addition to a plethora of other voice work in movies, animation, commercials, etc.
Released only a few months after the initial release of Star Wars, Hardware Wars went on to gross over $500,000 by 1978 and became one of the most successful short films ever made. Ernie Fosselius went on to write and direct another clever short film spoof of Apocalypse Now entitled “Porklips Now” in 1980, before landing a job in an official Star Wars film, Return of the Jedi in 1983. He provided the voices of Malakili (the Rancor Keeper) and Giran (who consoles Malakili after the Rancor’s death), as well as arranged the music for the Sy Snootles musical number “Lapti Nek”.
It should also be noted that Scott Matthews, who played Fluke Starbucker, went on to become a platinum selling record producer who worked with an indie rock band named after his Hardware Wars character.
In 1997 when George Lucas released special edition versions of the original trilogy, Hardware Wars producer Michael Wiese decided to collaborate with four computer animation artists at Digital Domain to create a special edition of Hardware Wars, with over 20 new “special defects”. I enjoyed this version as much as the original, the computer effects only add to the charm of the film. The best of the additions involves a fleet of corkscrews deploying their “wings”.
If you’re a Star Wars fan and enjoyed the recent parodies on Family Guy and Robot Chicken, I highly recommend Hardware Wars. The poor production values including cheesy special effects, poorly dubbed dialogue and overall substandard appearance still makes me laugh out loud to this day, a true classic. So in closing, “You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll kiss three bucks goodbye! Coming soon to a theater near you, get in line now! And…”