Clearly, Roger Corman's production team intends to keep adapting Dean Koontz's novel Watchers until they get it right; if this fourth attempt is any indication, they're still a long way from that goal.
During a fire at a genetics lab, a humanoid creature called the Outsider and a golden retriever escape. The monster kills a zoo security guard, a slaying investigated by homicide cops Murphy (Mark Hamill) and Gus Brody (Gary Collins). Murphy meets Dr. Grace Hudson (Lisa Wilcox) at the scene, not
knowing at first that she was the scientist in charge of the Outsider project. She later briefs Lem Johnson (Stephen Macht) and his National Security Agency team: The dog has been engineered for superior intelligence, and the creature (with which it is telepathically linked) intended to follow it
into enemy encampments during wartime. Murphy, meanwhile, has found the dog, and Brody takes it home, only to be killed by the Outsider.
Murphy again encounters the dog, and becomes convinced of its intelligence. He calls Grace over, and after she is attacked by the Outsider, the two flee with the dog to a mountain cabin. There they are set upon by both the Outsider and Johnson and his men, who have been ordered to kill Murphy and
Grace. Instead, all the NSA men except Johnson are killed and Grace is abducted by the Outsider. With the dog's help, Murphy tracks her down to a warehouse where the creature is beginning to speak to her. Johnson arrives, shoots the Outsider and prepares to burn the building down with Murphy and
Grace inside. Instead, the Outsider revives and attacks Johnson; Murphy, Grace and the dog flee just before the warehouse explodes.
With dialogue taking precedence over action (so much so that the movie could have easily been titled TALKERS), this is a tedious exercise in thrill-making. As could be expected, makeup effects artist-turned-director John Buechler's approach emphasizes graphic gore. But the occasional gushes of
blood fail to pump any life into his pedestrian storytelling. Monotonous music and some abrupt transitions (evidently the result of scene deletions) don't help. Nor does Sean Dash's script, which renders Koontz's original concept implausible and shoehorns in an unbelievable romance between the two
For their part, Hamill looks like he has just come off a three-day bender, while Wilcox, a spunky, appealing presence in the fourth and fifth NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET films, is ill-served by the material. By the end, when Hamill is studying an orange and intoning, "This means something," and the
Outsider is imploring Wilcox to "Pet me," it's hard to imagine anyone who'd want to keep watching. (Graphic violence, profanity.)
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- Released: 1998
- Rating: R
- Review: Clearly, Roger Corman's production team intends to keep adapting Dean Koontz's novel Watchers until they get it right; if this fourth attempt is any indication, they're still a long way from that goal. During a fire at a genetics lab, a humanoid creature… (more)