Watched! (1974)

WATCHED! (1974)
Article #1652 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-22-2005
Posting Date: 2-19-2006
Directed by John Parsons
Featuring Stacy Keach, Harris Yulin, Turid Aarstad

When a district attorney becomes disenchanted with the methods used by law enforcement officers to catch drug users, he turns to the other side and begins defending the ones he used to prosecute. He then finds himself being set up by his former partner.

If the above plot description fails to reveal the fantastic content of this movie, it’s because the fantastic content is fairly marginal. Nonetheless, it is present, and it’s rather strange. The John Stanley book lists the surreal cocaine sequences as the fantastic element, and though these sequences are certainly odd, I find them not quite bizarre enough to push it into the realm of the fantastic. But there are other elements as well; for one thing, at least part of the movie takes place a full decade after it was made, and even though the only reason it does this is to give the movie a point from which it can flash back to scenes that take place in the present, it still nudges the movie into the realm of science fiction. Furthermore, the movie touches on the theme of madness at various points, which gives a touch of horror to the proceedings as well. Still, the fantastic elements remain marginal, and the movie is largely a crime drama.

However, it is a very weird crime drama, and it just gets weirder as it goes along. Historically, it’s interesting to consider in light of the fact that Stacy Keach did serve time in England for smuggling cocaine. On its own terms, it’s a bit of a mess, it’s hard to follow, and it gets rather dull at times. Still, it has a strong and very bizarre ending that makes me want to give the movie another watch some time. And it gives a very interesting glimpse of the drug culture of Haight-Ashbury long after the trendiness of the area during the sixties had dissipated. It’s probably of most interest to those who find the subject matter fascinating, and it is well-acted throughout. Chalk it up as another curio.

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