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DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Watchers/Watchers 2

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Elliott, Sep 7, 2003.

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  1. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    Watchers/Watchers 2





    Studio: Artisan
    Year: 1988/1990
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 92/97 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Standard (1.33:1)
    Audio: DD 2.0 Stereo Surround (both films)
    Subtitles: English (both films)





    Apparently we shouldn’t trust any government agencies. Out in the middle of nowhere the government is trying to create superhuman creatures that they can use for war. Two creatures are created one being a Golden Retriever who has been taught pretty much everything a human can do. This includes answering questions, being able to type and best of all he can retrieve his own food. The second creature is a Bigfoot type creature known as an Oxcom. The secret is that the dog would go into the enemy’s camp to find targets then the Oxcom would follow and kill whatever is by the dog.

    However another government agencies tries to destroy this project and blows up the building where the two are being held but neither are killed and they both head off into the woods. The dog has the advantage but the Oxcom is close behind and ready to kill whoever the dog goes near. The dog eventually ends up with 16-year-old Travis (Corey Haim) who takes a liking to the animal and also understands how smart it is. While all of this is going on the Oxcom is stalking and killing people all over the county. Meanwhile the government agents, head by Michael Ironside, shows up to track the creatures down.

    Watchers is based on the novel by Dean Koontz but I haven’t read it so I’m not sure how close the movie follows things. The executive producer was Roger Corman so that there should tell you what type of film this is going to be. If you’ve seen any of the low-budget drive-in shockers from the 1950’s then you’ve pretty much seen this film. This film plays out exactly like all the others, although this here does have a few good aspects but there isn’t enough to make the film worth watching.

    The biggest problem is that the film is simply too cute to really be a horror film. The dog in the film is so darn loveable that you really can’t take your eyes off of him and the scenes between him and Haim seem like something you’d see in a Disney film and not a gory horror movie. I’m actually a fan of Haim but he’s also a problem here due to the rather silly performance. Most of the time he’s trying to act tough but it comes off laughable especially the silly ending, which seems like something Rambo should be doing.

    As I mentioned earlier this film plays out just like the monster movies from the 1950’s and this is a problem. The director uses Corman’s trick of not showing the monster too much throughout the film, which is fine if the movie runs a little over an hour but coming in at 92-minutes the film simply runs out of steam very early making the rest of the film drag along without anything interesting happening. The story is laughable and not too believable but this could have been overlooked had the viewer ever feared the actual creature. That’s not the case so there’s very little here except for the cute dog.

    When you’ve got nothing original to do with a sequel you simply make it a remake and that’s the case with Watchers 2, which isn’t worth reading about let alone watching. Another government agency has created a new golden retriever, which is just as smart as the one in the first film. Of course, they also get the idea to create another creature and so the movie can continue, the creature and dog escape (again) and bodies begin to pile up while the government runs all over the place trying to track them down. Paul Ferguson (Marc Singer) is the lucky fellow who finds the dog, falls in love with it and must try and fight off the baboon looking monster.

    Watchers 2 is pretty much the same movie as the first one, although this time Roger Corman was the actual producer. Apparently he didn’t want to spend too much money on a script because there’s certainly not one to be found here. While the first movie’s monster was silly looking it at least was interesting but that’s not the case here. From what I can remember the monster here appears to be the same one as in The Terror Within, another Corman production. Gore hounds might find a few interesting kills but that’s not enough to keep your attention through the slow pace that makes this film a real pain to get through.


    VIDEO---Both movies are shown full frame (4:3), which I think is the correct ratio. The first film could have gotten a theatrical release but I’m pretty sure this was shot open matte. If it was widescreen in theaters there’s certainly no panning or scanning going on with the DVD. Everything looks properly framed so I’m sure this was the correct ratio. The picture quality is a major disappointment and you can tell Artisan simply used a video here. All of the colors are extremely faded and way too soft. The black levels are very light and come off with a white fuzzy look instead of anything deep. There are a couple scenes where we see the tape master role. W2 comes off a little better but it still appears to be from a video master. The print used contains dirt pretty much throughout and there’s a dark tent that hampers most of the scenes. The color level isn’t too good either because most of the non-faded colors just bleed together.

    AUDIO---Both films have Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Surround tracks. The first film sounds decent, although the audio seems to have been taken from a videotape. There are a few scenes, which are full of hiss but for the most part things are clear. W2 fairs a little better but the Stereo track sounds more like Mono than anything else. The dialogue is easily heard throughout but the “loud” moments really don’t do anything. I wasn’t expecting a full blown DTS track but we I did want something a little better than this.

    EXTRAS---An insert with chapter listings.

    OVERALL---I hadn’t seen either film before this one and sadly I wasted three hours of my life. The first film wasn’t too bad so you Corey fans might want to check it out. I like the guy but his macho talk was a little too funny so the other Corey might have been better in the film. The video quality to both films is pretty poor and apparently taken from a video. The sound is no better but it isn’t too bad.


    Release Date: September 23, 2003
     
  2. Joel C

    Joel C Screenwriter

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    Watchers is a wonderful book, by far Koontz' best. The movies are pale imitations (Why make Travis 16? Why change the name of the monster, which in the book was known as the Outsider). Read the book.
     
  3. Joseph J.D

    Joseph J.D Screenwriter

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    I remember liking the first Watchers quite a bit when I first saw it all those years ago as a VHS rental- never saw the sequel though. I may one day pick this up if this is a very cheap disc.
     
  4. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    Don't let the movies deter you from reading Koontz' book. It's a great read, and the only thing that really carries over to the film is that - oh yeah, there's this smart dog...

     
  5. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Yep, another case of pointless meddling with the source material. The book is very good, all they had to do was recreate it for the film.

    Koontz's books would make great films. Unfortunately no one has done it yet (though the mini-series of "Intensity" was pretty good).
     
  6. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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  7. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    That's what I meant, I just phrased it badly.

    Believe me, I have sat through several Koontz-based stinkers. [​IMG]
     
  8. Will K

    Will K Screenwriter

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    Watchers is indeed a terrific book. The movie is just cut-rate junk. I haven't seen Intensity but I have yet to see a decent film made from a Koontz novel. Whispers, anyone? [​IMG]
     
  9. TomF

    TomF Stunt Coordinator

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    Well reviewed...too bad you had to watch both of them though. Just want to echo the comments about what a great novel "Watchers" is and also ask has anyone seen Watchers 3? I see it came out in 1994 and just hit DVD, though I never heard of it. I expect it's more of the same but would like to check it out anyway.
     
  10. Andy Olivera

    Andy Olivera Screenwriter

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    Haven't seen these in many years, but I remember liking them quite a bit. I'd recommend both of them as a rental to anyone who appreciates a semi-decent monster movie.
     
  11. Joel C

    Joel C Screenwriter

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    Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms, yo!
     

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