What to make of a film that can’t even be bothered to change its own credits when the title is altered? After deciding that “MetalBeast” just wasn’t cutting the mustard, the producers then presented us with “Project: Metalbeast” – perhaps (although I admit this is unlikely) due to the same year’s “Project Shadowchaser 3”, also starring Musetta Vander?
You don’t want to hear me speculate on 20-year-old naming decisions, though! What you do want, I hope, is a slightly sarcastic recap of the film, so here goes. It’s 1974, and thanks to a text info-dump…tell you what, rather than me describe it to you, here it is, and it’s a pretty cool idea for a film:
Although his partner gets his throat ripped out quickly, Butler (who looks like the most stereotypically “army” guy ever) makes short work of the werewolf and we’re on our way back to the US. He’s bummed out that they can’t start testing it on live soldiers right away, and thinks the scientists are taking too long so injects himself with the last remaining blood. He starts turning into a werewolf too, so his boss, Barry Bostwick (who’s been covered by the ISCFC here and here) puts him in suspended animation until science has caught up with him, or something.
So we skip forward to 1994, where Bostwick is now in charge of all sorts of government science funding, and one of his projects is to create synthetic skin for cancer patients. He combines this with something to do with metal (I may not have been paying attention during his long silly speech) and boom, we’ve got skin which is sort of made out of metal. And guess which long-frozen cadaver Bostwick gives them to test the skin out on?
CAROLINE AWARD! We have an award for films which feature male, but no female, nudity, because the scales are tipped ridiculously far in the other direction. I am pleased to confirm that with its lingering full-frontal shot of Butler, “Project: Metalbeast” wins the Caroline Award.
The two main scientists in the present are Kim Delaney and Musetta Vander, both top 90s ladies. Luckily, this movie got Delaney minutes before she signed on for “NYPD Blue” for most of the next decade, and Bostwick just before “Spin City”, so it looks a bit higher-class in retrospect. Anyway, they start laying the new skin on their cadaver, until wouldn’t you know it, it appears he wasn’t quite as dead as they thought.
Now, right about here is where the problems start. The film has “Metalbeast” in its title, and even with zero spoilers just from the box you know Kane Hodder is playing the beast, so waiting around until 1:07 of an 1:25 film to show us the fully metal beast for the first time might reasonably be said to be leaving it a little too long. Or, as my notes less prosaically put it, “crack on lads” – when you’ve got a werewolf with metal skin, get some damn use out of it! When Kim Delaney starts running pretty quickly, a few minutes after pulling a giant metal rod out of her foot, I was a little annoyed too.
The ending is fun though. Despite this film aiming for some sort of record for the most use of people running down corridors in history, and numerous examples of people splitting up specifically so it’s easier for the beast to pick them off one by one, there’s people blowing up, clever resourceful female characters and a surprisingly decent MetalBeast outfit. Ultimately, popping a film like this on the telly and you really ought to know what to expect, too – “well, “Project: Metalbeast” didn’t have enough ruminating on the human condition for me, so I give it a thumbs down”.
So, despite a really slow middle section, a superb bit of villainy from Bostwick and two great performances from Vander and Delaney get this film over the top. I think you’ll probably enjoy it, but it’s a definite if you’re a corridor fetishist.
Rating: thumbs in the middle