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>
In the Anchor Bay DVD commentary, John Hough states that Bette Davis wanted to play both Mrs. Aylwood in the present and thirty years ago. The crew shot scenes with her wearing makeup to appear younger, but she was clearly older than the character the script called for. After the cast and crew saw the dailies, Hough told Davis in private that the scene just didn't work; no one would believe her as a woman in her forties. To her credit, Davis looked Hough in the eye and said, "You're Goddamned right." See more »
After Mrs. Alywood saves Jan from drowning in the pond they are in Mrs. Alywood's cottage talking. Jan's bangs change from being spread out across her forehead to being all together. See more »
[to unseen presence in the woods]
She's going to stay here. Is that what you wanted?
See more »
Not a masterpiece, but a sadly overlooked horror gem from Disney
Along with Orca the Killer Whale and Jaws, this was among one of the first films I ever saw on video - back in about 1983, when I was three years old!
I remember watching this film practically every evening and going crazy when my elder brother taped over it! I didn't see it again until I was 14 and although it didn't have the same impact, I still think it is a highly imaginative chiller.
It is a shame that this film seemed doomed from the moment the cameras started rolling. To add to all the distribution problems, Bette Davis was reportedly bored rigid on set and thought Lynn-Holly Johnson was a lousy actress, often commenting on how much she'd wanted Diane Lane to star as Jan Curtis instead.
The atmosphere of the film is undeniably creepy, largely thanks to the music featured in it - both the score and the tune from Mrs Aylwood's music box are first rate. Alan Hulme's brilliant cinematography is a wonder to behold. Had The Watcher in the Woods been a box-office hit, I'm sure Hulme would have been nominated for an Oscar.
Johnson is not "lousy" (as Davis reportedly said), she is adequate in the leading role. Much better is adorable Kyle Richards (who had previously appeared in the horror film Halloween and as Alicia Sanderson Edwards in TV's Little House on the Prairie) who plays Johnson's younger sister. However, it is a shame that Davis, Carroll Baker and David McCallum are all sadly underused - the last named has hardly any screen time at all.
Definitely one to see, IF you DO manage to catch it, which is unlikely
the film was never available to buy on videotape in England and has
only been on TV about twice in 20 years!
NOTE: The film did get a fabulous special edition DVD release in 2001, with all three endings so fans of the movie could FINALLY see the deleted scenes with the alien watcher of the title!
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