Comments Off on Project: Metalbeast
Tagline: DNA Overload
Year: 1995 Runtime: 93 min
Director: Alessandro De Gaetano
Writer: Alessandro De Gaetano, Timothy E. Sabo
Starring: Kim Delaney, Barry Bostwick, Kane Hodder
Ah, but like so many b-movies in the 90s, the cover promised more than the movie delivered. Don’t get me wrong, Project: Metalbeast has its moments, when the credit roll ends. Problem is, it doesn’t thrill so much as it talks at you.
Take the opening scene. Stormy sky. Night. Teletype titles:
(tacka-tacka-tacka-tacka) U.S. Military Intelligence
(tacka-tacka-tacka-tacka) Operation Lycanthropus
(tacka-tacka-tacka-tacka) Carpathian Mountains, Hungary
(tacka-tacka-tacka-tacka) Objective: Sample werewolf blood.
(tacka-tacka-tacka-tacka) Purpose: To make an awesome 90s horror flick create a superior combat agent.
Master Sergeant “Way Too Serious” Butler and his idiot sidekick Private “Lackey Bait” Greg break into a random castle. As all Hungarian castles are infested with werewolves, any old castle will do. Butler’s armed to the teeth, i.e. a single 45. No wonder he’s so somber. Lackey is secured with a bulging pack of gear, a bulky metal case, and a camera. Whomever packed his gear completely misunderstood what he was going to be shooting.
Still, Lackey performs his role perfectly, blindly blundering around, always out front, until attacked and killed. Butler, the consummate commander, watches idly as Lackey’s throat is ripped out. He’s more concerned with the dirt under his fingernails. It’s ruined his manicure. Lacky’s camera, not wanting to miss it’s big shot in the “movies,” decides to take a burst of pictures. What’s surprising is, despite being pointed at the ceiling, it manages to capture several in focus and nicely composed pictures of Lackey’s death. Each shot is from a slightly different perspective to boot.
Can your fancy DSLR do that? Don’t think so.
Though still deeply pained by his dirty nails, Butler pulls himself together enough to shot the hulking werewolf a couple times. “Hmm, what do you know, it works,” his look says. I admit I was surprised. I had no idea that a 45 has werewolf stopping power. He extracts some of the werewolf blood with an unnecessary suction device in one of Lackey’s cases. I’m sure a syringe would have worked just fine, but this is 1974. All secret government agents had excessively high tech gear. It’s a thing. Look it up.
With the blood collected, Butler grabs the camera and does Lackey a favor and shoots him in the face. Good job, boy. You’ll go far in this world.
Cut to: U.S. Secret Operations Center.
It looks like a mid-sized high school building, and from what we’ve seen so far this is where the writer spends his weekdays. Nah, I’m just kiddin’. Really the location is all about being broke. They spent all $13.68 of budget on the special effects makeup.
Butler, man of action, is getting antsy. The science tests on the blood are taking too long. Time to introduce some class, some level headed leadership. Enter Miller, Barry “Cool as a Cucumber” Bostwick, to put Butler in his place. Miller’s got this under control and Butler is not going to screw this one up. Sit, Butler, sit! Good dog.
Come to find out, while the tests are not complete, the doctor does know that if they were to use the blood on someone, said someone’s immune system would reject it. Their blood would turn into puss. Their body would swell. They’d suffer an intense fever. Eventually they’d die. Butler and Miller have one track minds, so they ask “That is all fine and good but is the blood diseased?”
Oh, it’s going to be so much fun watching the pair of them die.
Being the MENSA candidate he is, Butler isn’t going to wait for another week. He’s just going to take the blood. So, he sneaks into the lab after hours, because nothing is locked down in a Secret U.S. Operations Center, steals a half syringe, and sneaks off to the bathroom to shoot up.
Hmmm. Maybe this really is a high school after all.
Before he shoots up, Butler taste tests a couple drops. Not bad. A bit gamey. That’s all the science test needed so, yippee ki-yay. After a few moments of twitching like he shot molten iron, he goes all Emo. He returns to his office to reminisce by looking through the slides of Lackey’s final moments.
As he contemplates black, Butler’s sense of hearing starts improving. He hears some of the other doctors making fun of him and his werewolf blood. Why can’t the world just leave him alone!
With all the swirling passions and the icky hair sprouting in unusual places, this would be a terrible time for Miller to bust in and—
Butler, his sack having descended, sneers about smelling fear, living forever, and the $20 Miller still owes him from a couple weeks back. Not ready to become Butler’s victim just yet, Miller slips off to… uhm… turn off his stove. He forgot to turn it off when he left home that morning.
Fun Fact: when you shoot up werewolf infection, as opposed to getting it by being bitten, you can change by will, or as it’s known in show biz, through the “power of plot.”
In one of the labs, a lady doctor cuts her hand. Butler smells the blood. It brings out the beast in him. The Lurvwolf. He doesn’t always hump a lady’s leg on the first date, but when he does he returns to his office to lick his… pride. Or something.
One of the man doctors busts in, ready to save lady doctor’s virtue. Ooooo, bad timing there, chief. Butler has gone full werewolf. Mr. Doctor gets his throat ripped out. So much for chivalry. As WereBulter is chomping on his jugular, the slide projector decides to click through the slideshow of Lackey’s death.
I’d like an order of killing, with a side order of killing, and supersize that for me.
Miller, having thought of a snappy comeback finally, returns to find WereButler still chowing down on Mr. Doctor. That dog will not hunt, sir. Miller shoots WereButler and they put him, as well as the project, on ice. Literally.
Cut to: 1994. NEW U.S. Secret Operations Center.
Now the operations are housed in a mid-sized warehouse. How did this happen you ask? Well, they injected some Hungarian warehouse blood into the high school building and voila, new operations warehouse!
Inside we’re shown Dr. Anna de Carlo’s office. We see her Dermatology degree from the University of Michigan, her humanitarian of the year diploma (That’s right, diploma. It reads diploma in big bold letters at the bottom.), a cute Kangaroo doll on her desk, and her name plate which reads, “Synthetic Tissues Project.” Then a cross fade to her busy at work. Meanwhile all her co-workers are playing pool, poker, and drinking beers.
Cut to next day. Dr. Anna sleeping on her desk. Lt. “Don’t Touch the Hair, Man” Ferraro, one of her co-workers who took the evening off, comes in. He gives her the loving look which says, “Poor kid. Here all night. Again.” He wakes her gently.
This is a perfect time for exposition about what she does.
She’s growing new skin from a mixture of synthetic tissue and metal. Well, kinda. So far all she’s made is stuff that’s hardened to steel. But, poke gooey stuff with an electric prod enough and surely you’ll get synthetic skin that can be transplanted onto humans, right? So, night after night after night, she spends her time poking gooey stuff with an electric prod rather than have a life.
Having enough exposition to explain things for the moment, the movie returns to the plot. Ferraro tells Dr. Anna that some big-shot named Miller is coming on board. There’s a meeting to introduce him at eleventy-hundred hours. Oh, and there’s a little crust in the corner of her mouth.
At the meeting, Miller gives them the old “stink eye” and some “what for” to establish himself as the new head honcho. This doesn’t go over well, but what can they do? Quit and let someone else take all the glory. Well, yeah, but… Anyway, Miller tells the scientists they’ll be moving on to testing their synthetic skin on a cadaver he’ll deliver sometime next week.
Why he’s taking a week to deliver is a mystery? WereBulter is in the basement. Remember in the old U.S. Secret Operations Center and the New U.S. Secret Operations Center are one and the same.
Here we get a touching moment between Miller and WereButler. Miller’s bragging about giving him steel skin. He’ll be indestructible. No worries though, because this time everything is under control.
In spite of their moral reservations and the questionable legality, Dr. Anna and team start grafting synthetic skin onto WereButler. Part way through the operation the notice the three bullets in his chest. Dr. Anna removes them. When she does he comes back to life.
Second Fun Fact: silver bullets don’t kill injection infected werewolves, it just puts them in a coma.
At first WereButler has no brain activity. Granted, that’s because they forgot to plug in the EEG machine. I think his thrashing about, moaning and groaning in pain, and that his eyes were wide open should have indicated conscious, which in itself suggests LOTS of brain activity, but what do I know? I’m no dermatologist.
Dr. Anna confronts Miller, but he’s all, “Feh, it’s not a person anymore. Get back to work.” Who can argue with logic like that. So they return to work. They do call Miller Mr. Poo-Poo Head behind his back from there on out.
You might be wondering why no one, even the base commander, General Hammond, calls someone higher up about all this tom foolery?
All the while WereButler is in pain on the operating table. In her office, Dr. Anna is having a bout with her conscience. You know what that means. Perfect time for exposition about what kind of person Dr. Anna is.
Early in her career as a trauma dermatologist, there was this little girl who came into her ER. Ninety percent of her body was scorched away. Ninety percent of her body was gone and she was still alive? Amazining. Surprisingly, all Dr. Anna could do was watch her die. If there were only some synthetic skin with which to replace 90% of her body!
When the little girl died Dr. Anna believed there was something that left her body. Now though, after what she experienced with WereButler, she’s not sure. All she does know is that something momentous happened, but she’s not sure what.
Well, I’m no philosopher, but a person who was dead for 20 years came back to life. And he is writing in agony as you wallow in your exposition. There’s that.
Being all alone and in pain, Miller takes a moment to evil gloat over WereButler. Miller shows him pictures of Lackey’s death, blurts out that WereButler has been frozen for 20 years, and delights in the fact that he will NEVER pay the $20 he owes.
Tender moment over, Dr. Anna returns to work. Dr. Anna finally moves past her blasé attitude and gives WereButler a shot some Demerol. For some reason this causes him to have an accident. Exhausted by all the work, it’s time for a break, during which time Larry “the black guy” is sent to get surgical tubing to make a catheter.
Dr. Anna uses her break to get a code key from Hacker Chick, the operations center’s IT department, to Miller’s office. Miller uses his break to call his mommy. WereButler uses his to transform and kill Larry.
Looks like he wanted a catheter even less than Larry wanted to put it in.
Finally, time for some well deserved killing.
Sadly, now that he’s finally free, the first thing WereButler takes his rage out on is a dipping bird novelty toy. Really? He couldn’t punch a wall? Maybe kick through a door? I suppose not. Those things cost money and there just wasn’t enough in the budget. Thankfully a hapless guard wanders across his path, and feeling silly at wasting all his AWE-some, WereButler dispatches him, but good.
Unluckily for WereButler the other guards that show up are armed with fire extinguishers.
Third Fun Fact: fire extinguisher spray causes injection infected werewolves to partially transform back and go into nap mode.
Back in the lab, Dr. Anna’s idiot assistant, Weenie Intern Guy, keeps trying to pierce WereButler’s steel skin with a syringe of sedative. There is plenty of his body that’s not covered, but why go there? That’d be too easy. Defeated, they give up. Instead, they hook him up to electrodes and fry him. Why?
Because. And science.
While he’s getting juiced, Dr. Anna has to go see how Larry died.
Seriously. I’m not making this up. She has to see how Larry died. The stupidity boggles the mind.
I normally don’t talk to my television, but it helped me fight back the urge to get violent, “WereButler, you know, the steel skinned werewolf you only moments ago hooked up to electrodes? Yeah, him. He attacked Larry. Hulking metal werewolf attacks ‘Kan be pretti nasti.’ In this case it killed him. Also, remember how everyone just finished telling you how he, WereButler, you know, the steel skinned werewolf, attacked Larry? Remember that? Well, that’s how he died.”
Just as I was about to pop a brain infarction the answer hit me. The reason she had to see what killed Larry was the filmmaker spent money on some special effects makeup. That’s why he didn’t have WereButler smashing up the place. Some nasti cuts and a severed arm have more production value than a smashed door.
My bad for ever doubting.
When she returns to the lab she unilaterally decides the best thing to do is put WereButler out of their misery. Finally. She would do the deed herself but first she, ehrm… has some stuff to do. Ferraro, too. In the meantime, they instruct Weenie Intern Guy to inject sedative in WereButler’s eye. Really. In his eye. First they fry him because they can’t sedate him. Now they’re going to inject him in his eye. Poor bastard.
Thing is, this whole time WereButler’s been awake, with enhanced werewolf hearing. He heard the whole conversation.
Goodbye, Weenie Intern Guy.
Dr. Anna goes to get the gun and silver bullets she saw in Miller’s desk drawer earlier. Too bad, Dr. Anna. Miller has already grabbed them. Miller is 99 things, but a sucker isn’t one of them.
Ferraro steals all of General Hammond’s silver coin collection, which oddly enough, he keeps lying out on his desk, only half in protective cases. Ferraro takes them to his lab to make some special silver bullets. Special silver bazooka bullets.
While they are running their errands, WereButler kills Weenie Intern Guy and sets out on the killing spree we’ve been waiting for.
For an emergency situation this base is incredibly laissez-faire. No alarm. No guards sweeping the parameter. Miller and General Hammond are casually walking through the building. That’s when they come upon the dead body, i.e. WereButler’s rampage. Miller is not impressed with the kill count so he shoots General Hammond’s knees to leave him as bait. No sooner does Miller leave the room than WereButler is creeping up on Hammond. WereButler picks Hammond up and…
We get to watch Hammond’s feet twitch as his neck snaps, or his head is crushed, or something happens up higher where we can’t see.
Miller happens into Ferraro, Dr. Anna, and Hacker Chick. Ferraro runs interference for the ladies so they can get away and takes a bullet for his trouble. Considering he only has 6 bullets, Miller is being incredibly generous shooting people.
Dr. Anna and Hacker Chick end up in the freezer room in the basement, i.e. the cryo-lab where Miller was storing WereButler all these years. Leaving the door wide open behind them, Miller easily deduces where to go.
Just when I thought the movie was out of exposition, there is some villain monologuing. Thankfully it is cut short by WereButler.
In the “fight” that ensues, WereButler stomps a mud hole in Miller. Yet Miller takes it with style. With each blow he gets up and puts things right—fixing his tie or straightening his hair. He couldn’t quite fix the disemboweling, because he was dead, but he did what he could. Now that’s class.
At last, final boss fight. Dr. Anna and Hacker Chick versus WereButler. Dr. Anna has the bazooka and a couple of Ferraro’s Special Silver Shells. With the first shot, Dr. Anna misses WereButler all together. The missile hits the wall behind him, sending debris down on all three. Hacker Chick is out. Dr. Anna gets rebar through the ankle. WereButler is, of course, just knocked out until Dr. Anna walks close enough to grab at her.
This cures her ankle and leads to some exciting basement hallway hobbling/chasing. There are lots of metal stairways, steaming pipes, locked fire doors, and concrete walls. Just when Dr. Anna is cornered Hacker Chick is back. She hands Dr. Anna the last Special Silver Shell. This time the rocket hits, but only penetrates WereButler’s leg. No explosion.
The ladies run but there’s nowhere to hide. They look around but there’s no where to escape. WereBulter slowly closes in for the kill. Dr. Anna goes for the bazooka but it’s empty. This is it.
But wait, it isn’t!
Ferraro isn’t dead, he’s just been waiting for the last possible moment. He’s got the last Special Silver Shell. For reals last. He hands it to Dr. Anna. She loads. She fires.
His everything a splode!
Or is it? There is a bit of burbling metal skin stuff.
No. It’s the end. That’s quite enough of that.
Watch the entire film “Project: Metalbeast”