Written and directed by Ernie Fosselius
Starring Frank Robertson, Scott Mathews, Jeff Hale, Cindy Furgatch, Bob Knickerbocker, Paul Frees
Nowadays, anyone with a cell phone can make a movie. But back in the 70s, it took a lot more than that: cameras, film, sound equipment, etc. There also was nothing like Youtube to get your film to the public. You had to find movie theaters who were interested (at a time when the short subject was dead) or film festivals. And, to have any chance, it had to be good. Hardware Wars overcame those hurdles, and is the best Star Wars parody ever.
The movie is in the form of a trailer, and which parodies every aspect of Star Wars.* It shows Fluke Starbucker (Scott Matthews) finding the droids 4-Q-2 (Frank Roberson)** and Artie Deco (Canister Vacuum Cleaner). Fluke goes to Augie "Ben" Doggie (Jeff Hale)*** and they sign up Ham Salad (Bob Knickerbocker) and his Wookie Monster (brown Cookie Monster puppet) to rescue Princess Anne-Droid (Cindy Furgatch) and the evil Darph Nader.
In addition to the Mad Magazine style names, the movie plays off Star Wars, giving each important scene a twist. The "Hardware" in the title is descriptive: many of the items are in film are animated household appliances. The Millennium Falcon is an iron; the Deathstar, a waffle iron; other spaceships, toasters. The special effects are some of the worst ever committed to film.
Once nice touch was the narration, which was done by veteran voiceman Paul Frees, who had also done the narration of the original Star Wars trailer. And all the dialog was recorded after shooting, so the words only occasionally match the lip movement.
The movie was an immediate hit on the film festival circuit, winning a bunch of awards, and became a mainstay of science fiction convention film programs for years. It grossed over $1 million, pretty nice return on the $8000 it cost to make.
Ernie Fosselius continued to work in films, usually in the background. He parodied Apocalypse Now with Porklips Now, which didn't make much of a splash, and a few writing and directing gigs fell apart.
But making the film that George Lucas has called the best parody of Star Wars counts for a lot.
*I'm not calling it "Episode IV: A New Hope" because that wasn't in the name when Hardware Wars came out.
**Designed to look like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz.
***The reference is to an old Hanna-Barbera cartoon, Augie Doggie and his Doggie Daddy.