Roger Corman, prolific producer of schlock--some occasionally entertaining--doesn't apologize for his fast-buck oeuvre. Hopeful viewers may interpret WATCHERS II as the nearest thing to making amends; it's not a sequel to the abominable 1988 Corman feature WATCHERS, but a reshoot of the
same source material (a bestselling Dean R. Koontz novel) with more care evident.
Government geneticist Steve Maleno (Jonathan Farwell) is obsessed with his grotesque creation, dubbed "the Outsider," a taloned, humanoid horror sired for military purposes. The Outsider is telepathically linked to "Einstein," a golden retriever bred for friendliness and high intelligence. During
war, so the theory goes, dogs like Einstein can be loosed on the battlefield, to be adopted by softhearted enemy troops--who will then be torn apart, literally, by pursuing Outsiders. Higher-ups terminate "Project Aesop," but Maleno refuses to destroy his handiwork. Einstein and the Outsider
escape the lab, and the monster attacks an MP jeep transporting heroic Marine Paul Ferguson (Marc Singer). Ferguson flees to safety, not realizing the nature of the friendly dog that tags along with him. The Outsider follows, killing everyone unlucky enough to be in places where Einstein lingered,
and fugitive Ferguson gets blamed for the carnage. Ferguson hooks up with Barbara White (Tracy Scoggins), the psychologist who tutored Einstein, and the trio arm themselves for the monster's approach. Milano reappears, badly mauled by the Outsider but still defending its right to exist. The
ungrateful beast slaughters him. Ferguson, after a rooftop struggle, shoots the Outsider to death.
The wonder-dog conceit might have made this as unwatchably juvenile as the previous WATCHERS, but the actors and filmmakers bring off the dubious premise with a certain respect and sobriety, though not without some unobtrusive in-jokes, like guest bit parts for cult icon Mary Woronov and
stand-up comic Kip Addota. Then there's the distressingly satisfying massacre early on of some animal-rights fanatics who rashly try to "liberate" the Outsider. The fearsome fiend appears to be a closetful of recycled Halloweeen costumes patched together, and it probably was. But director Notz
keeps it in shadow and suitably lethal, until the climax when the thing steps into the light and grapples with the leads like a clumsy wrestler. WATCHERS II was followed by WATCHERS III (1994), a semi-sequel with Wings Hauser in the Ferguson role. Finally, Dean R. Koontz sued to stop Corman from
using his salable name any further. Koontz, almost as popular a terror writer as Stephen King, once rendered an opinion of those who had made movies out of his books: "They are the spawn of Satan." (Profanity, nudity, sexual situations, graphic violence.)
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- Released: 1990
- Rating: R
- Review: Roger Corman, prolific producer of schlock--some occasionally entertaining--doesn't apologize for his fast-buck oeuvre. Hopeful viewers may interpret WATCHERS II as the nearest thing to making amends; it's not a sequel to the abominable 1988 Corman feature… (more)