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Directed by Jon Hess
Produced by Damian Lee
David Mitchell
Roger Corman (Executive producer)
Written by Novel:
Dean Koontz
Bill Freed
Damian Lee
Starring Corey Haim
Michael Ironside
Barbara Williams
Lala Sloatman
Music by Joel Goldsmith
Cinematography Richard Leiterman
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) December 2, 1988
Running time 91 min
Country United States USA / Canada CAN
Language English
Followed by Watchers II

Watchers is a 1988 Canadian horror film, starring Corey Haim, Michael Ironside, Barbara Williams and Lala Sloatman. It is loosely based on the novel of the same name by Dean R. Koontz.

The film was shot in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada,[1] and grossed $940,173 in the United States.[2] There have been three sequels released in 1990, 1994 and 1998.


Plot summary

An explosion occurs in a classified research laboratory, causing an intense fire. A mutated monster known as the OXCOM (Outside Experimental Combat Mammal) escapes and chases a golden retriever in the same lab through the surrounding woods. The dog outruns it and hides in a barn. In the barn, Travis Cornell (Corey Haim) is with his girlfriend Tracey (Lala Sloatman). Thinking it is her father, Travis leaves. Tracey discovers the beast and screams, summoning her father who is attacked. Meanwhile, Travis finds the dog in the back of his car and a military/police force is sweeping the area for the escapees. Travis starts to realize the dog is extraordinary and decides to keep it.

The next morning, Travis's mother informs him that there has been an accident and that Tracey is in the hospital. Travis and his mother rush to the hospital, but two NSO officers guarding the room will not allow them to see her. Travis pushes past them into Tracey's room, only to find it completely empty. The men claim that she has been transferred to a better location. Travis is puzzled as to why one of the men was armed. At home, Travis' mother is displeased about the dog. She allows him to keep it when Travis shows the level of intelligence that the dog possesses. While bathing the dog, Travis sees GH3 printed on its ear, and concludes it is a research dog, which would explain its superior intellect.

A NSO agent (Michael Ironside) stops by Travis' house to ask questions and the dog hides. The dog tracks Travis down at school, where he types 'D ANG ER N S O' on a computer. Travis is given detention for bringing a pet to school. Three more murders occur in the woods. The OXCOM has traced the dog to the school, where two staff members are killed. One is able to call police. The now-suspicious sheriff and a policewoman arrive, and she is also killed. When the sheriff confronts the NSO officer, the man is forced to tell him the truth regarding the killer, but asks that they move to a quieter location away from the press. He explains that it was a scientific project gone wrong and that the OXCOM is chasing the dog, which targets and kills anything it comes across or that has been in contact with the dog. He then murders the sheriff.

A family friend who is fixing the washing machine mentions that a man stopped by earlier asking if they owned a dog. Travis, realizing the NSO is after them, sneaks out of the house. His mother stops him before he can drive away, telling him that they are in it together. Back inside, they find their friend dead. They run upstairs with the dog, locking the bedroom door. The beast begins to break it down. The mother climbs onto the adjacent rooftop while Travis grabs a hunting gun. He tells her to start the truck and jumps out the window followed by the dog who is knocked down by the OXCOM. He fires, then picks up the injured dog and the three drive to a vet. The vet, noticing the code on the dog’s ear, calls the authorities. Travis catches on and they leave the Vet's office before the NSO agents can arrive. The next morning after the agents track them to the motel they are staying at, the mother creates a diversion, allowing Travis and the dog to escape the NSO agents. Travis takes the dog to his father's old cabin in the woods. His mother insists the NSO agents let her visit Tracey. Oddly, the sedated Tracey is unharmed and her room appears to have no medical equipment.

The agents take them to the cabin, where Travis throws a home-made Molotov cocktail at the NSO agents, allowing the two women to run into the cabin. Agent Johnson, who has been established as a madman, fires at them, but is stopped by a fellow NSO agent who refuses to let him kill them. Johnson then kills him. In a tussle with Johnson, Travis is stabbed in the leg with his own knife. The dog ravages Johnson's face, allowing Travis to stab him in the neck. Johnson, a madman, claims that they will die anyway. Armed with homemade weapons, the team readies themselves for the beast. When it arrives, Travis shoots at it and it throws the dog into the truck windshield. Travis follows it into the woods. At first, he cannot bring himself to kill it. It then attacks him and he is forced to finish it off. Travis, his mother, Tracey and the dog regroup and leave in the beaten truck.

Relation to novel

The film, although credited as "based on" the novel, is only loosely based on some of the ideas in the book, and makes several radical changes that drastically alter the storyline. The characters most extensively affected by the changes are the dog, whose intelligence is far greater in the novel; Johnson, who is actually an amalgam of two very different characters from the book; and Travis, who bears no resemblance to the character of the same name from the novel. (In the book, Travis is a former member of Delta Force, with no living parents, and no girlfriend at the start of the story.)



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