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VHS Verdict: 1998’s ‘WATCHERS REBORN’ is Better Than ‘THE LAST JEDI’!
Hello everyone out there, I hope you’re all doing your best during these unprecedented times, staying inside and staying SAFE! Being essentially trapped indoors leaves plenty of time to watch movies, well the other evening I’d found myself thinking about the colossal failure of the Disney Star Wars “Sequel Trilogy”. If only they’d have given us fans what they’d always dreamed of, a cohesive compelling story that gave us a truly unforgettable send off to the characters we’d been waiting 30 plus years to see again AND brand new fleshed out characters who we could continue to follow on cosmic adventures for years to come. In many hardcore fan’s opinions we got neither and I was thinking of how awesome it would have been to watch this “sequel trilogy” over and over if it’d had been done with care and not flat out wasted classic characters like Leia & Luke Skywalker.
Mark Hamill in particular really got the short end of the stick and many fans of arguably the most iconic pop culture character, Luke Skywalker left ‘Episode 8’ feeling incredibly underwhelmed. Well many fans might appreciate an alternative to ‘The Last Jedi’ in the form of a largely forgotten sequel to ‘The Watchers’ (the totally 80’s super fun Corey Haim Creature Feature), ‘Watchers Reborn’. The star of the whole show? You guessed it Mark Hamill! Technically the 4th film in The Watchers franchise, it’s the only sequel that’s really worth tracking down and technically more of a sequel to the first movie anyway. Keep in mind this one’s a fully b-level monster flick, it’s cheezy, it’s low budget but it’s got a lot more heart than The Last Jedi! You’ll get a great does of 90’s Hamill front and center in a pretty damn fun little horror thriller. Another plus is that it’s directed by John Carl Buechler (RIP), practical fx wizard behind New World Pictures, who’s done some stellar work right up until his death in 2019 (Hatchet, Nightmare on Elm St 4, Troll, Friday the 13th part 7) .
In this sci-fi charged tale, the US government has lost control of the “Outsider”, an experimental human animal hybrid forced into becoming a savage killing machine. The monster busts loose onto the city streets and eventually into a local zoo where it begins it spree of murder. The Government desperately seeking to cover up the break out, sends agents from the NSA to begin eliminating anyone involved with the project. This inspires Dr. Grace Hudson, who’d worked closely with the creature to run for her life. Enter down on his luck Jack Murphy (Mark Hamill), a skilled detective whose partner was just murdered by the Outsider. While investigating the murder Jack runs into a stray golden retriever with human intelligence named Einstein, who escaped from the same governmental agency responsible for the Outsider. He reluctantly takes the dog in and eventually decides to help Dr. Hudson escape from the clutches of deadly assassins. Now on the run, the trio must rely on the few resources they have left evading the clutches of of the vicious monster that is also trailing them.
‘Watchers Reborn’ is worth the price of admission alone for Mark Hamill, who’s a ton of fun in this one. There’s plenty of heartfelt and comedic moments here to enjoy, especially his relationship with the uber intelligent dog being a pretty sweet highlight. There’s certainly more charming moments for Mark here than in The Last Jedi and to be honest, despite it’s small budget is a lot more fun to watch. It also makes me sad Lucas didn’t utilize Hamill in the 90’s for a Star Wars adventure, he would have truly shined once again as the character. Instead much of Hamill’s post Star Wars career had been reduced to largely forgotten B-movies, this being one of the best in my opinion.
There’s also some pretty fun gory monster moments here, action and a pretty well done werewolf-y creature thanks to Buechler’s fx skills. A bit of a road movie, buddy comedy and action thriller rolled into one, ‘Watchers Reborn’ is a truly delightful piece of 90’s schlock. I’d buy this one on Blu-ray along with 1988 original for sure if it ever gets the proper treatment. If you’ve felt a little depressed about Luke Skywalker recently I suggest checking this one out, grab a few drinks and some pizza because this one is a cheezy slice of cinema from much simpler times…..