“What kind of animal drags it’s prey around and covers up its own tracks?”
Detective Jack Murphy (Mark Hamill) and his partner Gus Brody (Gary Collins) are called to a murder scene at the zoo. While investigating Murphy finds a golden retriever. His partner takes the dog home. The dog, named Einstein, is part of a government experiment. He is psychically linked to a monster named The Outsider. They are part of a team designed to infiltrate enemy lines. The dog is the tracker and the The Outsider is the killer.
An incident at the lab released the dog and the monster from the confines of the lab and out into the world. While at Gus’s home, The Outsider breaks in and brutally kills Gus. The NSA takes over and Murphy is sent home. Einstein hides in Murphy’s car. Murphy finds out that the dog is highly intelligent. He contacts a woman zoologist he met at the zoo crime scene named Grace Hudson (Lisa Wilcox). He finds out that she is aware of Einstein and The Outsider. She created them.
NSA agents led by Lem Johnson (Stephen Macht) are trying to erase all traces of both The Outsider and the dog. Johnson is willing to do whatever is necessary to accomplish his ends. Anyone who has been in contact with the monster and lives is exterminated. His next step is to track down the dog and the monster and kill them both. To do that he needs to find Grace. He believes that if he finds her, he will find the dog. Now not only do Murphy and Grace have to handle The Outsider but the NSA as well.
“Watchers Reborn” AKA “Watchers IV” was released in 1998 and was directed by John Carl Buechler. Co-produced by Mark Hamill, this is the fourth Roger Corman production loosely based on the Dean Koontz novel “Watchers”. After three movies that had very little to do with the book, if you expected anything different from movie number four you are naive. Not only does it not follow the book, it also does not follow any of the other movies. Granted some of the footage from previous movies have been, shall we say, repurposed but there is no direct connection between any of them other than the dog and the monster and their psychic link.
Roger Corman has never met a genetically engineered freak he didn’t like. This time The Outsider looks like a werewolf. This one is also the goriest of the franchise. Again this movie went straight to video. Is the movie any good? Probably not, but it’s got a really cute dog. I couldn’t find out the name of the dog. It’s not listed anywhere that I looked, but there are several trainers listed in the cast so I suspect there were several dogs used. For a Roger Corman movie it was entertaining. If you like smart golden retrievers or if you’re a completist and you have “Watchers” one through three then you need this one to round everything out.
As for Mark Hamill, do not expect Luke Skywalker. By the time Watchers IV was made he was 47. (He was only 26 when Star Wars IV was made.) He plays a down trodden police detective that lost his wife and child in a fire 4 years previously and is still haunted by it. And unfortunately he looks the part. I’m not sure how much of his character is acting and how much is just the ravages of time.
Don Imus’s (from Imus in the morning) wife Deirdre Coleman Imus has a small part as a reporter in the movie.