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Someday, someone should write a book examining why TV movies of the late 60s and early 70s were often preoccupied with witchcraft and horror at a time when the cinema shied away from the subjects, except for B movies and the rare blockbuster ala "Rosemary's Baby." Even some of the sillier ones ("Satan's School for Girls" anyone?) worked up some genuine chills. But "Crowhaven Farm" has to be the best. From the opening scenes right through the surprising (and terrifying) climax, this little thriller puts "The Exorcist" and other, later, big-budget chillers to shame. It may have been the TV movie's lack of pretentiousness that worked to its advantage. Made quickly and economically, "Crowhaven Farm" had no time for high-fallutin' symbolic nonsense. It did what it set out to do - inspire nightmares - and did it very well.
Early on in Crowhaven Farm, Maggie Porter is awakened from a deep sleep by
the sounds of a little girl crying. The eerie sounds are coming from off in
the forest somewhere. Concerned that someone, namely a child, might be hurt,
Maggie makes her way out into the night in the direction of the sound. As
she treks into the dark forest, the crying suddenly turns into a demonic
cackle. The haunting laughter engulfs Maggie and she collapses in
Working with a limited budget and the content-expurgate restrictions placed on made-for-television fare, director Walter Grauman is still able to construct a frightening movie in Crowhaven Farm. He does it by simply letting the viewers imagination fill in the blanks. The strange noises in the forest, the blurred images of pilgrims torturing a mother-to-be off in a nearby clearing. What do they mean? Grauman shows the audience something, fleetingly, and then forces them to use their own imagination to fill in what is missing. That is where the true horror lies within Crowhaven Farm.
When the original inheritor dies in a strange car accident, a young couple, Maggie(Lange) and Ben(Burke) inherit a large farm and hundreds of acres of forest land. Dogged by marital problems the couple are determined to make a fresh start in the new setting. Maggie senses something odd early on and her first inclination is to leave but Ben talks her out of it. The inclination turns out to be correct as Maggie begins hearing strange noises and seeing odd visions of people dressed in Seventeenth-century garb. When a young girl(Eilbacher) drifts into their life things quickly move from bizarre to down right terrifying. Maggie soon discovers a parallel between her problem and a two-hundred year old coven of witches who may have committed sacrifices on the very farm land she inhabits.
Crowhaven Farm elicits some great performances from its cast. Hope Lange is especially great. She offers a performance very reminiscent of Mia Farrow's panicky turn in Rosemary's Baby, as the woman who discovers all is not what it may seem. Cindy Eilbacher, Paul Burke and TV-movie regular Loyd Bochner are also very good in their roles. I particularly enjoyed John Carradine as the handyman.
Crowhaven Farm has the distinction of being one of those made-for-television films that stay with you long after you've seen it. Like Duel and Dark Night Of The Scarecrow, Farm represents what can be achieved with a little budget and a whole lot of imagination. I highly recommend this film, if you can find it. As of yet, the film has never been released to video.
I too saw this movie when I was very very young. I remember it scared the heck out of me! The most memorable thing for me was the door being placed on her and the stones on top of that door. I would love to see it released on DVD. Or even on TV again. I remember feeling the terror Hope Lange's character felt trying to get people to listen to her. Lets face it John Carradine is a classic classic actor. Right up there with Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Vincent Price. Would love to see this movie released on DVD or shown on TV as they show some of the old HAMMER movies. (Frankenstein/Dracula Movies)These movies they make now may have great special effects and graphics but some of them are so gruesome it makes me ill. I prefer the older movies from when I was younger where your imagination works harder just seems more frightening that way. Does anyone else agree? I guess you would have to be closer to my age to understand what I am trying to say.
There was some good stuff made for television during the seventies, and while Crowhaven Farm doesn't stand tall as one of the best horror films ever made, it's a very decent one that is certainly worth seeing. The plot doesn't really offer anything new, and simply follows the idea of a coven of witches, centred around the sinister Crowhaven Farm. The plot focuses on Ben and Maggie Porter, a couple that inherit the farm after the death of her father. Their marriage is tainted by the fact that Maggie cannot bear children, and the couple move to the farm in the hope that the change of scenery will help to pick up their relationship. Under the direction of experienced TV director Walter Grauman, a good cast gives way to a thoroughly interesting tale of witchcraft. Grauman does well with the atmosphere, and while most of the film is build up for the ending; things such as the haunting music score and numerous plot revelations ensure that the film never dries up. Of course, all this build up needs a good climax, and the film gets just that with an ending that definitely justifies getting there. Overall, this is obviously a little thin and it won't be winning any 'greatest horror film ever' awards...but it's good stuff and comes recommended.
I saw this made-for-TV movie when it first aired back in the early 70's. I thought it was a very effective supernatural flick at the time. I had the opportunity to hear this movie a couple of years later on the radio while working at a dude ranch in the mountains of Colorado between Durango and Silverton. The radio selections were slim at 8500 feet, but one station carried the audio's of television movies, usually creepy or scary ones. Even though I had seen this film already, I can tell you the hair on my arms and at the back of my neck stood straight up while listening to the dialog and creepy background music. I can definitively say it was scarier than watching it. If anyone gets a chance to watch this one, or better yet, listen to it from the next room, you won't be disappointed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Hope Lange and Paul Burke portray a couple from the east village who inherit a rural manor from a relative on Lange's side; she's immediately disturbed by the place and wants to get away. There's such cruel trickery at work when Hope decides to escape Crowhaven Farm once and for all and gets her best friend to help her out. Up to this point, her friend has been the kind of movie buddy we all love, but soon poor Hope realizes they are driving in the wrong direction. Sitting in the passenger seat, she turns to look at her friend behind the wheel and--BOOM! The woman is really one of them...a 17th century witch, one of several seeking revenge against Lange for committing a betrayal in a past life. Silly and scary TV-movie with effective passages, but with a limited budget resulting in a visually dull production. The narrative is rushed along for the sake of time, and is burdened by heavy echoes of "Rosemary's Baby" besides. Pretty gripping nevertheless, and the cast is very fine.
I saw this movie as a child...i have always had a thing for witches..and there were many witchcraft related movies in the late 1960s /early 70s...i can not BELIEVE there are others who remember/ love this movie as i do! What i wouldnt do..for a VHS copy of the movie. That little girl was so beautiful and EERIE! Her eyes had that fairie-ish pale blue color...she was like a living (but evil) doll!I love that scene where "Maggie" runs into the night to hear voices on the wind...you can truly feel the spirit of ancient folk magic...in this dark and highly atmospheric movie! Anyone got a copy?
I agree with everyone below who remembers this movie from their childhood as being very scary. There are a couple of vivid images - and story lines - that have stayed with me these 30-odd years. I've sometimes wondered if this is where Sting got the idea for the darker connotations of the song title "I'll Be Watching You"! Whew. The whole Salem thing; the whole story line in Salem; and the whole story line in the present, and how they inter-link. The resolution still chills me, even as I write this. Hope Lange of course is great in it; her husband and the girl on the road. Chilling performances. DOES ANYONE HAVE THIS ON TAPE / KNOW HOW TO GET IT ON TAPE?
As with several other people here, I watched this movie as a child, and it stuck with me all these years. Very scary scenes of witchcraft, torture, crying in the woods, etc. Hope Lange was a very pretty, effective actress and the story of this movie was very original. I was able to get a copy of this off of Ebay, I hadn't seen it in literally 30 years, and was still scared when it was over. The ending was a total shocker too. I wish that they made movies for TV like this now, unfortunately all we have on TV anymore are reality shows, who needs reality when we could have fun movies like this? I think that whoever wrote this movie really had the pulse for what scared little kids in the late 60's and early 70's. Lots of fun and if you can get a copy of it on Ebay I highly recommend it.
While Crowhaven Farm was not the BEST made-for-TV chiller of its era, it does rank up there with the dozen or so that tend to stand out in the minds of baby boomers raised during TV's golden age. Forget the special effects that seem so essential to the success of today's horror movies; this one forces you to rely strictly on your imagination (remember that thing in your head???) to understand its premise. This movie was made in 1970, during the final season of "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir", and, like several typecast actresses of the period, Hope Lange attempted to "break away" from her sitcom character much like Elizabeth Montgomery did in "The Victim" (remember THAT one???) and did it quite effectively. Crowhaven Farm is simply chilling, with the grainy film grade and squealing violins in the soundtrack adding to the unsettling feel of the film. This genre of film will probably never see a comeback, due to the all the computer-technology wars in horror films made today, but at least we'll always have them to look back on. EIGHT STARS.
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