Watch Hardware Wars, the Original Star Wars Parody, in HD (1978)

This past May, YouTu­ber Jen­ny Nichol­son set off waves of social-media dis­course with “The Spec­tac­u­lar Fail­ure of the Star Wars Hotel,” a four-hour-long video cri­tique of Dis­ney’s huge­ly expen­sive, now-shut­tered Star Wars: Galac­tic Star­cruis­er in Orlan­do, Flori­da. Hav­ing gone viral enough to rack up over nine mil­lion views in less than two months, it’s arguably become more of a suc­cess than some recent Star Wars movies. In part, that owes to Nichol­son’s hav­ing tapped into a grow­ing dis­com­fort, felt even among die-hard fans, with the trans­for­ma­tion of an escapist space opera into an ever-vaster and less account­able busi­ness empire. The time has come, many seem to feel, to pop the Star Wars bub­ble.

Some, of course, have felt that way for a long time. “I duti­ful­ly thrilled to the ear­li­er films, to their con­trast of black-vel­vet skies and blind­ing white sands, but I was a lit­tle too old to wor­ship them or study their var­i­o­rum edi­tions,” writes New York­er film crit­ic Antho­ny Lane in his review of The Phan­tom Men­ace, from 1999.

“Even in the late sev­en­ties, we had a sus­pi­cion that Star Wars was nerd ter­ri­to­ry.” That sus­pi­cion inspired such works as the Hard­ware Wars, the very first Star Wars par­o­dy. Released in 1978, this micro-bud­get pro­duc­tion shot on Super 8 film spoofs the ram­shackle bom­bast of the orig­i­nal Star Wars, then still play­ing in the­aters, in the form of a thir­teen-minute-long fic­tion­al trail­er.

“Steam irons and toast­ers sus­pend­ed by clear­ly vis­i­ble strings were the space­ships, a bas­ket­ball was a plan­et on the brink of destruc­tion, and the robot Artie Decko was a defunct vac­u­um clean­er,” writes Salon’s Bob Cal­houn. But “from its card­board sets to the cos­tumes, Hard­ware Wars is an amaz­ing fac­sim­i­le of its source mate­r­i­al, despite obvi­ous bud­get and time con­straints.” The goal of its cre­ators Ernie Fos­selius and Michael Wiese had been to meet Star Wars cre­ator George Lucas, who lat­er called it his favorite Star Wars par­o­dy. And indeed, its humor holds up these 46 years lat­er, though younger view­ers may need some help under­stand­ing the joke in a name like Augie Ben-Dog­gie, to say noth­ing of the final line, deliv­ered by famed voice actor Paul Frees: “You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll kiss three bucks good­bye.” Above, you can watch Hard­ware Wars in a brand new HD trans­fer.

via Boing Boing

Relat­ed con­tent:

The Com­plete Star Wars “Fil­mu­men­tary”: A 6‑Hour, Fan-Made Star Wars Doc­u­men­tary, with Behind-the-Scenes Footage & Com­men­tary

Watch the Very First Trail­ers for Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back & Return of the Jedi (1976–83)

Fans Recon­struct Authen­tic Ver­sion of Star Wars, As It Was Shown in The­aters in 1977

The Mak­ing of Star Wars as Told by C‑3PO & R2-D2: The First-Ever Doc­u­men­tary on the Film (1977)

A Star Wars Film Made in a Wes Ander­son Aes­thet­ic

NASA Cre­ates Movie Par­o­dy Posters for Its Expe­di­tion Flights: Down­load Par­o­dies of Metrop­o­lis, The Matrix, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and More

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities and the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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  • Donald says:

    I saw this in the­ater at the time, was a kid with par­ents watch­ing either a Her­bie, movie, or Swiss Fam­i­ly Robin­son movie. I was a coun­try kid and see­ing a movie in the­ater was a real event… and I remem­ber see­ing this…

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