Dead Rising: Watchtower is a feature-length film that premiered on the online streaming site Crackle on March 27th, 2015. It serves as an Interquel for the Dead Rising series, and stars Jesse Metcalfe, Dennis Haysbert, Virginia Madsen, Meghan Ory, Keegan Connor Tracy, and Rob Riggle as Frank West. It is set between Dead Rising 2 and Dead Rising 3, during the rise of the Phenotrans corporation and Frank West's short-lived brush with fame. A sequel called Dead Rising: Endgame was released in 2016.
In Oregon, a reporter named Chase Carter is trying to wring some decent news out of a recent zombie outbreak that's forced the evacuation of a local city. He attempts to bring in a human interest element by talking with one of the survivors, an infectee named Crystal.
Shortly thereafter, several of the people being treated for zombie infections suddenly succumb, causing a brand-new outbreak in the refugee center. The Army forces a complete lockdown and quarantine, going so far as to shoot survivors who are caught within the perimeter, and both Chase and Crystal end up on the wrong side of it. Chase sets out to find out what caused the second outbreak, and to escape the city.
This film provides examples of:
- Adaptational Jerkass: While Frank West was never much of a people person, his appearance in this film shows him as an asshole who routinely gets on the nerves of the news anchor trying to interview him about the East Mission outbreak.
- Apocalypse Anarchy: When Chrystal gets captured by Logan, she asks if the bomb he has is to blow a hole in the quarantine wall and escape. Logan responds that the bomb is to make sure that the zombie outbreak spreads further out. He goes on to say that before the outbreak he was a nobody working a 9-5, but once law and order broke down, he sneaked into the quarantine zone and rallied some other survivors to loot as much as they could, and kill any uninfected. Since the military has plans to fire bomb the city, he plans to start another outbreak so that he can continue looting and killing more uninfected with impunity.
- Bait-and-Switch: Once the Megadome refugee center gets overrun with zombies, Chase meets Maggie, who's just stabbed a zombified girl no more than seven. Later, when they and Chrystal are holed up in the pawn shop, Chase asks Maggie about her daughter, as a way to get some closure. Maggie keeps talking about how her daughter is still out there, and waiting for them to be reunited, making it seem like she hasn't accepted her daughter's death. When the trio break into the biker gang's lair, Maggie goes off on her own where she discovers her zombified teen-aged daughter, and willingly allows herself to be bitten so they will together forever.
- Bittersweet Ending: Chase and Crystal managed to survive and get out of the city and Jordan manages to get footage proving the Army's compliance in the new outbreak to Chase, but the same footage shows her being taken and probably killed by the military. The U.S. government are allowed to implant tracking chips on people who are infected.
- Chekhov's Gun: The coin that Jordan gave to Chase to open a newspaper vending machine at the beginning came in handy when she placed the evidences of the Army sabotaging the Zombrex inside the vending machine for him to find.
- Continuity Nod: The film features the initial introduction of the Zombrex implants that will play a role in the plot of Dead Rising 3.
- At the end of the film, Lyons has a short phone conversation with General Hemlock.
- Death of a Child: When Chase first meets Maggie during the outbreak at the refugee center, she has stabbed a zombie who tried to bite her, said zombie was little girl no more than seven years old. Later as Chase, Maggie, and Chrystal are hiding in the pawnshop, we see a shot of the exterior, where a zombified father, carrying his baby on a chest sling, is working on chewing his baby's neck, since the head was eaten some time before.
- Expy: The costume design for the leader of the bikers is clearly based off of Hunter from Dead Rising 3.
- Frameup: the Army frames F.E.Z.A. for giving bad Zombrex to the infected which starts the outbreak.
- Foregone Conclusion: Because this is an Interquel, the U.S. government will get away with implanting bad Zombrex in the city which will allow them to plant tracking chips into Zombie Infectee.
- He Knows Too Much: When General Lyons figures out that Jordan and Norton are aware of the Army's actions, he has his men capture them to cover up the truth.
- Hoist by His Own Petard:
- Crystal kills Shearson with his own modified shotgun.
- Chase throws Logan's bomb/axe into his back before it explodes and kills him.
- Improvised Weapon: Crystal slaps together several combo weapons from parts she finds in the back of a pawn shop. She's clearly a big "Tape It or Die" fan.
- Intrepid Reporter: Chase spends a lot of the movie reporting live on the outbreak via cell phone to a newscast out of town.
- Monster Clown: There's clown named Bonzo the Party Clown that became zombified and welds an axe.
- Phlebotinum Dependence: All the Zombie Infectee rely on Zombrex to remain human but the anti-viral drug no longer works on the people which results in a new outbreak. It turns out that the Army implanted bad Zombrex in a refugee center to start another outbreak so the government is allowed to plant government-mandated Zombrex chip on the infected to track them.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: General Lyons lends his help to Jordan when she's trying to get Chase out of the outbreak. It turns out that he's only helping Jordan to help further his plans to embarrass F.E.Z.A.
- Together in Death: Maggie purposely got herself bit by her zombified daughter so she can be with her. Just before the fire bombing, she and her daughter were last seen holding hands.
- Too Dumb to Live: When two survivors, Bruce and Amy, spot Logan and his gang looting the stores, Bruce confronts Logan asking them for a ride despite Amy pointing out that's a bad idea. This results in Logan punching Bruce out cold and leaving Amy to be eaten by the zombies.
- What the Hell, Hero?: When Chase meets Crystal for the first time he tries to interview her about how she got infected and she tells him that zombies terrify her and insults his naivety towards zombie survival.
- Zombie Infectee: Crystal. The second wave of zombies are all people for whom their batch of Zombrex suddenly failed.
- Logan becomes this after Crystal bites him and then he's later bitten by a zombie multiple times but survives until Chase kills him just as he turns into a zombie.