Hardware Wars (Collector’s Edition DVD)

One of the most popular movies of all time, Star Wars has had its share of parodies since the Lucasfilm dynasty began in the late-'70s, but perhaps none goofier or more prescient than the very first: comedian Ernie Fosselius’ low-budget spoof short, Hardware Wars (1977). While Mel Brooks had success ripping off and expanding this short to feature length (Spaceballs), the original masterpiece deserves all the credit.

Follow the adventures of Fluke Starbucker, Ham Salad, Chewchilla (a cookie monster doll), and Auggie “Ben” Doggie as they fight through a universe of flying toasters, aluminum foil asteroids and tractor-beam-using waffle irons.

Right from the start, director and writer Fosselius was chopping the movie’s otherworldly appeal down to size, and with the new Star Wars prequels still setting money records, the dopey HW is even more enjoyable the second time around.

Here Fosselius has fun mocking the usual DVD “extras” in the same tone he reserved for bashing Star Wars‘ commercial domination scheme (the new original soundtrack is now restored in “incredible Digi Re-Do 8.2 format"). While the film short itself is under 10 minutes, the DVD is an hour long thanks to these additions: a pirated foreign version from 1979, a toss-in prequel short about the rediscovery of HW, a director’s cut version, a hilarious interview with Fosselius and his marketing toys on the 1978 TV show Creature Features, and even funnier director commentary ("I don’t remember this at all"), with Fosselius falling apart emotionally as he watches the film, popping pills and drinking.

Overall, the cheesiness of HW still tickles. In the immortal words of the film’s trailer: "You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll kiss three bucks goodbye." Or, in this case, $14.99.