A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.
When a normal American family moves into a beautiful old English house in a wooded area, strange, paranormal appearances befall them in this interesting twist to the well-known haunted-house tale. Their daughter Jan sees, and daughter Ellie hears, the voice of a young teenage girl who mysteriously disappeared during a total solar eclipse decades before... Written by
Michael Ducharme <email@example.com>
The Anchor Bay DVD release was originally going to be a two-disc set, with both the famous original 100 minute cut that test audiences saw (Anchor Bay found the footage that was thought destroyed, and was going to re-edit it as close as possible to the preview version) and the theatrical 84 minute cut. Unfortunately Disney did not allow Anchor Bay to have the original cut, and only let them use the two "alternate endings" which now appear on the DVD. This explains why director John Hough referring to the movie as being finally edited the way he intended (the commentary was recorded before Anchor Bay had to drop the two-disc idea), when it actually isn't. The alternate endings, however, do provide the majority of the missing footage from the 1981 preview, save some small scenes/changes. Hough explains that "his" ending is a combination of the two alternate endings and the film's current ending. See more »
When Jan and Mr. Keller are in the chapel waiting for the rest of the people to come she looks through a stained glass window. It is a big missing piece she looks through, but when they show the rest of the people coming it shows the lead in the glass minus the stained glass rather than one big missing piece. See more »
[to unseen presence in the woods]
She's going to stay here. Is that what you wanted?
See more »
An attempt by Disney to lift itself out of the doldrums following a creative and commercial downturn in the 1970's, THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS takes its plot from a Young Adult novel by Florence Engel Randall in which an American family takes residence in a creepy old house in the English countryside. Almost immediately, the eldest daughter (former ice-skater Lynn-Holly Johnson) experiences weird visions linked to the disappearance of a teenage girl under mysterious circumstances many years before. The film has visual style to burn (cinematography and set design are especially eye-catching), and there's a couple of terrific PG-level scares, but all the technical gloss in the world can't make up for a listless pace and repetitious plot line, and Johnson's one-note performance transforms a strong, resourceful heroine into little more than a whining goody two-shoes. Worse still, co-stars Bette Davis, Carroll Baker and David McCallum are given almost nothing to do, and there's much evidence of editorial tampering during some of the opening scenes.
Originally slated to conclude with an ambitious visual effects sequence, the version which premiered in 1980 was basically unfinished and led to scornful reviews which doomed it from the outset. Realizing their mistake, Disney pulled the film and reworked the ending, without the participation of several key personnel (including director John Hough!), most of whom had moved on to other projects. This revised print - running 16 minutes shorter than the 100m original - made it into theaters the following year, sporting a 1981 copyright, and is the version which has prevailed ever since. For a detailed report on "Watcher"s troubled production history, see Paul Talbot's superb article in 'Video Watchdog' 88.
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