Director – Alessandro de Gaetano, Screenplay – Alessandro de Gaetano & Timothy E. Sabo, Producer – Frank Hildebrand, Photography – Tom Callaway, Music – Conrad Pope, Special Effects Supervisor – Kevin McCarthy, Creature/Makeup Effects – Magic Media Industries, Inc. (Supervisor – John Carl Buechler), Production Design – Brooke Wheeler. Production Company – Blue Ridge Entertainment/Prism Pictures.
Kim Delaney (Dr Anna de Carlo), Barry Bostwick (Colonel Peter Miller), Musetta Vander (Debbie), William G. Clark (General Leslie Hammond), John Marzilli (Donald Butler), Dean Scofield (Captain Ferraro), Lance Slaughter (Larry Porter), Tim Duquette (Roger), Kane Hodder (MetalBeast)
In 1974, soldier Donald Butler undergoes a special mission to Romania to obtain samples of the blood of a werewolf. Back at the US Secret Operations Center, Butler is frustrated at how long it is taking to scientifically study the blood and decides to inject the last samples into himself. He turns into a werewolf but is shot with a silver bullet by his superior Colonel Miller. In 1994, Anna de Carlo is heading a military-backed research unit that is trying to develop bioferrin, an artificial skin that mixes flesh with metal. The operation is taken over by Colonel Miller who forcibly makes them test the bioferrin on the cadaver he brings in – Butler’s cryogenically frozen corpse. As the experiment gets underway, Butler returns to life and starts to transform into a werewolf under the full moonlight. Thanks to the bioferrin experiments, he is now a beast that is part metal as well.
Project: Metalbeast is a standard monster movie from the 1980s/early 90s. It falls into the genre of films that began with Alien (1979) – of sleek monsters either of alien origin or genetic science stalking people around darkened corridors amid much steam and flashing lights. Project: Metalbeast offers a variation on the usual Alien copies in that it has a decidedly different monster – in this case, a werewolf that has been transformed into a part cyborg. One suspects that the filmmakers were attempting something along the lines of a conceptual collision between early 1980s werewolf films like The Howling (1981) and An American Werewolf in London (1981) and the then recent hit cyborg film RoboCop (1987). If in the end, Project: Metalbeast does nothing with its uniquely original premise, it does stand out above the rest of the crowd by dint of an original idea. Certainly, the mix of science and lycanthropy has never been attempted in any other straight werewolf film, except maybe for The Werewolf (1956), which had a werewolf created by an injection of radioactive blood.
Project: Metalbeast starts well but the last half becomes no more than a standard monster movie. All the cliches end up being wheeled out – the double-dealing military boss (who also just happens to have a cache of silver dollars on his desk that are conveniently able to be smelted down to make silver bullets). Everything is run over by an overwrought and overripe score. The werewolf effects come from John Carl Buechler, known for his work on numerous B-budget films of this era. Buechler’s customary cheap effects are at least shot in a way that they do not look too tatty. That said, the film never does much in terms of its design of a cyborg werewolf. In fact, there is little that seems to matter to the film about whether the werewolf is a cyborg or not.
There is an okay cast, including an intelligent lead performance from Kim Delaney who would the following year go on to become a regular on tv’s NYPB Blue (1993-2005). Barry Bostwick pulls all stops out and delivers an appropriately cold and ruthless performance as the evil military officer.
Director Alessandro de Gaetano first appeared the very obscure horror Bloodbath in Psycho Town (1989) and only went onto make one other film Butch Camp (1996).