Hard to Die (1990)
By: Devon B. on April 28, 2013 | Comments
New Concorde (USA) | Region 1, NTSC | 4:3 | English DD 2.0 | 83 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Jim Wynorski
Starring: Robyn Harris, Lindsay Taylor, Debra Dare, Melissa Moore, Bridget Carney
Screenplay: Mark Thomas McGee, J.B. Rogers
Country: USA
External Links
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Die Hard spawned several sequels and a whole lot of rip offs, but I don't think any rip off was so blazon as Hard to Die. Except the film itself is not really a rip off at all, it's just the title that lacks creativity. Hard to Die is less about one man against terrorists, and more about five women against a janitor. It may be the most blatant title rip off of Die Hard, but aside from being set in a building and having some guns firing in the finale, the two movies don't have much in common.

In Hard to Die, five women are doing inventory for a lingerie company, and the only other person in the building with them is the aforementioned janitor, a creepy guy who the police think committed a brutal mass murder. While getting some records from the building's basement, the women get dirty, and to make matters worse the fire sprinkler system is accidentally triggered. Because they're filthy and soggy it's showers all around, and the only clean clothes on hand to change into are the very lingeries they should be inventorying. The women make the mistake of opening a mysterious parcel that's been delivered to the wrong address, which unleashes an evil spirit, and right around that time they start dying off. But some of the women will not go quietly into that dark night. Some of the women make a stand. Some of the women are hard to die. They go on the attack, only to find that the janitor is even harder to die, perhaps the hardest to die non-supernatural guy in the history of cinema.

If Hard to Die's story sounds familiar it's because it's pretty much the same as the one found in its sister film Sorority House Massacre II, and the reasons for the similarities are outlined in my review of that film and in director Jim Wynorski's response to the review. Despite being essentially the same thing, I've always preferred Hard to Die, even though the slasher satire feels more at home set in a sorority. The jokes are a bit funnier in this one, and the "unstoppable killer" concept gets its best send up ever. Yeah, even better than the one in Cannibal! The Musical. Because Hard to Die is a satire it makes it easy to embrace any bad acting, continuity issues, plotting nonsense or chintzy FX, so even the film's faults add to its tongue-in-cheek humour.

Hard to Die's title may be a rip off, but while re-watching the film I noticed something that I think is downright plagiarism, but in this case it's Hard to Die that's being stolen from. In the movie one of the characters has divided his soul and placed it in into different objects. That sounds like a major plot point from the insanely popular Harry Potter series, so I assume J.K. Rowling is a closet Hard to Die fan. Later in the movie there's another bit that influenced a completely different cultural revolution. The one scene in Hard to Die that is somewhat similar to Die Hard is the shootout, and that features scantily clad women. Guns and nearly nude women, why that sounds like Actiongirls to me. Wow, Harry Potter and Actiongirls took inspiration from Hard to Die! Clearly Wynorski is a massive trendsetter.

If inspiring the biggest series of the Naughties and the biggest breasted series of all time wasn't enough, there're also some fun little touches to keep an eye out for. Forrest J Ackerman has a bit part, Wynorski has a funny cameo and posters for a few of his films decorate some of the walls in the backgrounds.

I first saw Hard to Die on Joe Bob Brigg's Drive-In Theater where it met Joe Bob's tried and true three Bs criteria, though admittedly the blood was just some squirts on a wall. With so much greatness crammed into its runtime I'm sure a lot of readers that haven't already succumbed to the movie's brilliance are wondering "Where can I get a copy?" Sadly, this DVD has gone out of print, but maybe Shout Factory will take pity on those that missed out and reissue this Corman classic in a deluxe edition. With extended shower scenes.
The Disc
Hard to Die is presented full frame. The print looks a bit dark, but other than that is decent quality for a film of this budget. There are a few spots and specks, and there is some stock footage that is grainier, but other than that the movie looked about as good as can be expected for a release of this era. The audio is a 2.0 track and while it may not be anything stellar, that's not a fault with the DVD. The dialogue is all clear and the track is mostly clean, but a storm and some gunfire are the only sounds of note, so this was never going to be a hugely dynamic track.

The trailer, plus trailers for Don't Sleep Alone, Concealed Weapon, and Exposé.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
I saw Hard to Die during that magic time when any movie with skimpily attired women was automatically considered a sure fire winner, but I still really love it, and not just for nostalgic reasons. It's a fun, silly movie that definitely helped me refine my taste in quality cinema.

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