Movie Name: Watchers
Studio: Carolco Pictures
Release Date(s): December 2, 1988
MPAA Rating: R
A government experiment has escaped. A golden retriever is on the run and the genetically engineered creature called the OXCOM that is meant to track it is killing everything in the path to find it. Found by a boy named Travis Cornell (Corey Haim) and his mother (Barbara Williams), the dog is extremely intelligent and recognizes the danger but finds he can’t warn the people protecting him. Meanwhile, a government agent named Lem (Michael Ironside) is also hunting the dog and the OXCOM…and the killing will continue until one survives.
Directed by Jon Hess, Watchers adapts the 1987 novel by Dean R. Koontz. Academy Award winner Paul Haggis wrote the first screenplay for the film, but due to a writer’s strike, Haggis’ script was rewritten by Damien Lee. The movie was generally poorly received.
I really liked the book Watchers. I thought it was fun and creative (I was also eleven or so). Even at twelve, I realize that Watchers wasn’t good…and it was a poor adaptation and it remains a pretty bad film.
The movie turned it into a more of a teen horror. The book built more suspense, but the film is straight horror. Unfortunately, the movie plods along for the most part.
By casting Corey Haim, it is turned into a Corey Haim film (at the end of his teen run). Haim is fun as a kid, but he’s really not a good actor and as he got older he lost his charm. Here he’s still playing the kid but he’s getting too old for it. Ironside is always good as a villain but he always plays the same character.
The monster likewise is really pretty weak. I pictured the creature very simian fast and strong with human characters. You get the impression he is more human with animal qualities in this movie. There is a lot of popped eyeballs and gore in the movie, but the movie does have some jumps.
Watchers would be an interesting movie to remake. With a more stylized director, a streamlined script, and advances in special effects, the movie could be decent. The movie was a big enough success to spawn sequels. Watchers was followed by Watchers II in 1990 (which was closer to the original novel).