Hardware Wars (1978) — First on the Star Wars spoof scene

“You bet your asteroids, kid. Hold on!”

Justin’s rating: I feel a disturbance in my armpits…

Justin’s review: While there have been many, many Star Wars homages, parodies, and spoofs to date, there’s something to be said for being the very first on the scene. Just ask any over-zealous YouTube commenter! And so it was, just a year after Star Wars: A New Hope became kind of a big thing, writer-director Ernie Fosselius pumped out this 13-minute short film and reaped the geeky rewards all the way to a galaxy farce, farce away.

For a spoof done so quickly, it’s kind of impressive how much Hardware Wars nails the parody by knowing its source material so well. This short is structured as a movie trailer, complete with haughty voiceover, as we’re introduced to our core cast: Fluke Starbucker, Augie “Ben” Doggie, Princess Anne-Droid, Ham Salad, and Darph Nader (hey, political dig!).

And while the jokes have been done many times since (and, hence, done to death), it’s still charming to see the Princess wearing big bread buns on the side of her head, C3P0’s counterpart as the Wizard of Oz’ Tin Man, and Fluke using a flashlight (in a foggy room) as a lightsaber.

Hardware Wars’ title comes from the fact that all of the spaceships are common household appliances, such as toasters, waffle makers, egg beaters, cassette tapes, and irons. The trailer more or less follows the plot of A New Hope, with the droids crashing on a desert planet, a naive farmboy signing up to help the Princess, and diving into a wretched hive of villainy (i.e., the ’70s bar scene) to find a pilot.

There they enlist the services of Ham Salad and Choochilla — a Cookie Monster puppet that’s been spray-painted brown. I mean, any scene in any movie is automatically made better by a Muppet in it, and so it is here. Meanwhile, every single line of dialogue is horribly dubbed, so either they didn’t have a good budget for a boom mic or they thought this was funnier.

Darph Nader destroys the planet Basketball (watch it on DESTRUCTOVISION), Ben Doggie gets a little headache, Ham Salad kicks over a trash can, everyone spends some time in a garbage pit, Cookie Monster eats the Princess’ side bun (hey, I laughed), and Fluke blows up the death waffle.

The delicious low-budget approach adds to the overall veneer of silliness that zooms through Hardware Wars. It’s just enough to amuse me without overstaying its welcome. Even in 2022, I thought that some of the jokes were pretty funny (such as the good guys calling Ben Doggie a “martyr” for not leaving his fight with Nader), but, by and large, this is a farce that’s more concerned with getting onto the scene before everyone else instead of being the cleverest of them all.

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