the half-assed Part II, this entry may be seriously strapped for cash, but I have to say, it is a hell of a lot more fun. Again, it's not a sequel, but (in another modern euphemism) a "re-imagining" of the source material. This time out it seems like first time screenwriter Michael Palmer (whose only other writing credit is the following year's missed opportunity CARNOSAUR 2) was given very few directives and had fun writing it. Just like CARNOSAUR 2 pillaged ALIENS for inspiration, WATCHERS III is a mash-up of DIRTY HALF-DOZEN and PREDATOR, but unlike CAROSAUR 2, it actually manages to be fun.
A secret ops chopper dumps a couple of "medical aid" crates over a section of war-torn South America and subsequently gets shot down by the enemy (who are never identified). The crates bust open and, yes, a golden retriever and a (new!) psychotic and deranged monster leap out into the jungle, clearly pleased to find that they don't have to escape from a burning lab this time. While the dog finds a native boy to pointlessly pair up with (contractual obligation?), the monster (created by BASKET CASE's Gabe Bartalos) decides to slaughter everyone in the area, including our own secret ops guys. Seeing as how this situation would be a paperwork nightmare, the top brass decides that the best way to quickly and quietly take care of this clandestine kerfuffle is to release a half-a-dozen ex-military badasses from Levenworth, including chess-playing, ball-buster Ferguson (Wings Hauser) who will lead the mission. How the military obtains their release and offers them pardons on the down low is never even hinted at, but it doesn't matter, they are angry, disenfranchised soldiers with high-power firearms and there's a monster that needs killing. Oo-rah!
Holy shit! The lab is on fire... again! Damn, you'd think they'd implement better safety features. Once again, the prized experiments flee the disaster, but this time our angry, psychotic monster-thing decides to tear the place up a bit first, then move on to the local zoo, where he vents his frustration on some animals - hey, hey, not like that. He just kills them, presumably because he's mad about being neither man nor beast. Since the zoo killings are not able to be kept quiet (like the exploding research facility), local homicide detectives, Murphy (a subdued Mark Hamill) and Brody (a hilariously mis-cast Gary Collins), find themselves puzzling over the violent deaths of the animals and a security guard (who has his eye removed in graphic detail). The coroner (Lou Rawls) is no help as he does not feel it is his job to establish the cause of death.
While Murphy agonizes over the death of his partner, Special Agent Lem Johnson (vein-poping Stephen Macht, this time around) is running a covert cover-up op that basically consists of kicking Hamill's ass, killing witnesses in broad daylight and leaving the messes for the local authorities to clean up. After a near miss with the monster, Johnson has one of the best lines in the movie when he chews out his staff, yelling "don't tell me we're going on a duck hunt, when the woods are full of bears!" Kind of a batshit crazy thing to say, but you have to admit, it's a fair point.
Nursing both wounds, Murphy takes the dog back home with a bucket of fried chicken and gravy and here we have the best "revelation" scene in the series. In an attempt to communicate with Murphy, Einstein dips his paw in the gravy and spells out his name on a newspaper. I am not positive, but I'm reasonably certain, this is the only time in history that the name "Einstein" has been written out using a roux-based sauce.
Murphy: "I don't need a lecture on compassion from a woman that's been genetically engineering the ultimate killing machine!"
Grace: "And in wartime, would you rather have the outsider fighting in hand-to-hand combat, or your own son?"
Oooooh snaps! Shit got real, yo! Yep, screenwriter Sean Dash (who also penned the 1995 Sam Jones, Matthais Huges, Eric Lee epic ENTER THE SHOOTFIGHTER), decides that not only is he going to write the most plot-intensive entry in the series, but he's going to throw in some emotional complexity including a scene in which the creature clearly only wants to be loved and basically says so. This will either tug at your heart-strings or if you are cynical bastards like us, it'll make you laugh your ass off.
In spite of the fact that this is yet another rehash - err, I mean a re-adaptation of the source material - the film uses clips from the previous three entries during the opening credits. Why this is, I have no idea. Maybe it's for those who haven't watched the entire series over consecutive nights so that they can have their memory refreshed and fully appreciate how much fun this one is.
Oh, and just in case you ever meet the man, a word of advice. It's pronounced "BEEK-ler".