Why rip off one movie when you can make your rip-off seem fresher by stealing elements from three different popular movies? A great example of mushing together two better movies into one low budget whole is Project: Shadowchaser, which aspires to be nothing more than Die Hard meets The Terminator, with the music from Batman thrown in for good measure.
Set in low budget future where the primary architectural style is "cheap set," Project: Shadowchaser starts out with a terrorist force taking over a hospital (which seems to be located in an office building). The terrorists are led by suspiciously Aryan Romulus, played by Frank Zagarino. After the preliminaries are done, we find out that the President of the United States' daughter Sarah (Meg Foster) is among the hostages, and soon the FBI has surrounded the building.
Looking for a way to end the siege quickly, the FBI agent in charge, Trevanian (Paul Koslo), decides that only the building's architect can save the day. (Hasn't he heard of blueprints?) But the architect is currently in a futuristic jail where all the inmates are frozen solid for the duration of their sentences. In this future, the punishment of prisoners has apparently been sublet to the Sara Lee corporation.
"Good to see you made it out, McClane!"
There are two problems with Trevanian's plan. First of all, how smart can this architect, Dixon by name, be if he managed to make a hospital look like an office building? And he was dumb enough to end up in jail to boot. Secondly, because the FBI contacts the night help, they end up defrosting the wrong guy. Instead of getting Dixon, they end up with the one guy dumber than Dixon, a football player named Desilva (Martin Kove). DeSilva, who is actually a former football star jailed for manslaughter ("It was an accident!") keeps his true identity a secret, because the Feds offer him a deal: help end the hostage situation with his knowledge of the building and they'll give him a pardon. As Desilva goes through various stages of panic, followed by ludicrous bravery, we're introduced to some subterfuge involving lifelike android technology and a lot of gunplay.
We don't know exactly how Martin Kove landed this part, but we're fairly sure it involved blackmail or nepotism, or perhaps both. After all, who is better positioned to take compromising pictures of one's social life than one's blood relations? In any event, the movie exists for two reasons: to show that Kove's casting as the evil dojo master in The Karate Kid movies wasn't a total accident (he has a few martial arts moves thrown in there, but don't hold your breath for anything good), and to display the sweat glistening on Zagarino's chest. Given that Zagarino's character is an android, though, the question becomes: from whence comes that sweat? Did the scientists in charge of Project: Shadowchaser actually have a line item in their budget for artificial sweat glands? Show us an android who can sweat and we'll show you, uh, a sweaty... android. Yeah. This might not have been such a sticking point if the android hadn't been so pointedly mechanical, as when his damaged neck begins to whir in a noisy and wildly hilarious fashion.
"OK, I'm sorry for Masters of the Universe!
My agent made me take that part!"
Speaking of things mechanical and wildly hilarious, this film is yet another notch in the thespian belt for Meg Foster. Why is this woman such a prolific actress? Most prominent actors working steadily in the b-movie world had a break-through role of some prestige, something upon which they built their modest career. Rutger Hauer and the late Brion James have Blade Runner, Dolph Lundgren has Rocky IV, and Tim Thomerson has Trancers. Meg Foster, on the other hand, has a long string of TV appearances and her dubious role as the first Detective Cagney on the Cagney and Lacey TV series. And yet, every time we turn around, she pops up, giving that wispy-voiced performance that b-movie directors seem to love.
The final (and perhaps most significant) thing to mention about Project: Shadowchaser is its place in Stomp Tokyo history. This was the first really bad movie we watched together, and it was during that viewing that the seeds were planted for this humble little web site. Sure, it could have been a thousand other bad movies that started us down the path to the review and critique of sub-par cinema, but this was the one in the VCR that night, and for that it will always hold a special place in our hearts.