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Watchers (1988) Review

“Watchers” is a 1988 American science fiction horror film directed by Jon Hess and starring Corey Haim, Michael Ironside, and Barbara Williams. The film was written by Hess and Bruce Rubin, and is based on the novel of the same name by Dean R. Koontz.

“Watchers” tells the story of a genetically engineered dog who escapes from a research facility and befriends a young boy. The two must then outwit the government agents who are in pursuit of the dog.

But, I had high hopes for this. It has Michael Ironside, whom I like immensely on screen ever since seeing him way back when I was a boy in such treats as V and Scanners. The story sounds great as well, a scientific experiment which has boosted the intelligence of a cute l’il doggy, and has also produced an unstoppable killing machine. It goes wrong, both dog and killing machine escape, and the scene is set for the movie.

There are a few problems though. Far too much focus is given over to the dog and it’s genetically enhanced intelligence. The monster, which is also supposed to be supra-intelligent, is reduced to little more than a mindless killing machine. I have read the book of this, and the monster is a much more fearsome prospect there rather than the weak, vacuous bundle of rage that we get here. There just isn’t that feeling of our protagonists being stalked by something clever, which can plot and anticipate, which can emote and know what they are thinking. In some movies the bad guy being that alien, totally inhuman, black pit of death works, here it detracts from the story.

It’s not that this is a bad movie, just that the cutesy, hyper intelligent pooch seems over emphasized and robs us of some of the darker sides of the story. That might not even be a bad thing, the clever canine is enjoyable, it just gives us a movie which is somewhat different to what we might have expected or hoped for.

I can’t really knock this, it does try hard, and does move along at an acceptable pace. In it’s own little way it is enjoyable although it does have something of a made for TV feel. It’s another of those films that is worth watching but probably isn’t going to be any more to you than a bit of casual fun, it’s unlikely to rock your boat or make it into your favorite movies list.

“Watchers” is a suspenseful and thrilling film that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The acting is excellent, and the special effects are top-notch. If you’re a fan of science fiction or horror, then “Watchers” is a must-see.


Todd and Janelle Preminger live a quiet life in the suburbs with their young son, Nathan. One night, while Janelle is out with friends, Todd hears a noise in the backyard. Investigating, he finds a strange creature that he initially mistakes for a dog.

The creature, however, is not a dog. It is an extraterrestrial life form that has crash-landed on Earth. The creature is injured, and Todd takes it into his home to care for it.

As Todd nurses the creature back to health, he begins to bond with it. He names it Einstein, and the two become fast friends. However, the government soon becomes aware of Einstein’s existence and sends a team of agents to capture him.

Todd is reluctant to give up Einstein, but he knows that he must. He helps the agents capture Einstein and watches as he is taken away.

The film ends with Todd and Janelle looking at photos of Nathan and Einstein, knowing that they will never forget the special bond that they shared.

Movie Details

Director: Jon Hess
Writers: Dean R. Koontz, Bill Freed, Damian Lee
Actors: Lala, Corey Haim, Jason Priestley, Barbara Williams
Release Year: 1988