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The Watcher in the Woods (1980)

6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 3,308 users  
Reviews: 79 user | 26 critic

When a family moves to a country home, the young girls experience strange happenings that have a link to an occult event years past.

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, (uncredited)

Writers:

(screenplay), (novel), 3 more credits »
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Title: The Watcher in the Woods (1980)

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
...
Jan Curtis
...
Ellie Curtis
...
Helen Curtis
...
Paul Curtis
...
Mike Fleming
Frances Cuka ...
Mary Fleming
Richard Pasco ...
Tom Colley
...
John Keller
Katharine Levy ...
Karen Aylwood (uncredited in the shortened 1981 release)
Eleanor Summerfield ...
Mrs. Thayer
Georgina Hale ...
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Storyline

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 <ducharme@escape.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

What can't be explained, must be explored. See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

26 August 1981 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Az erdei kápolna titka  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The original version ran 100 minutes. This was with the short ending that didn't include the explanatory "Other World Sequence" (which wasn't finished at the time of the film's initial release). After the original ending didn't work, the filmmakers re-cut it, adding the special effects sequence in which the viewer sees the other world that the victim was trapped in. This ending still didn't fare well with the critics, so Vincent McEveety was brought in (director John Hough was unavailable) to tweak the film and shoot an entirely new ending and opening credits sequence. See more »

Goofs

When seen in the mirror maze Karen is wearing white tights. When she returns to the chapel they are gone. See more »

Quotes

Ellie Curtis: Boy, Mrs. Aylwood sure is creepy.
Paul Curtis: How comforting to know we're the "right sort of people."
Ellie Curtis: I've seen the iciest of old ladies melted by your charm.
Mrs. Thayer: I think it was your daughter who did the trick.
Ellie Curtis: Me?
Mrs. Thayer: No, dear, not you.
[to Jan]
Mrs. Thayer: She had a daughter about your age.
Jan Curtis: Had?
Mrs. Thayer: Mm, lost. Many years ago. Perhaps you reminded Mrs. Aylwood of her.
See more »

Connections

References The Haunting (1963) See more »

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User Reviews

 
72yo Bette Davis in a Disney Family Suspense-Thriller
18 October 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It's an interesting contrast to experience Bette Davis in a Disney family suspense thriller--maybe the scariest Disney flick ever made. If anyone could have been more mysterious & bewitchingly secretive, I can't imagine who. I have the 1998 VHS that has a cover with a marvelous photograph of Davis on the back.

Florence Engel Randall's plot in her novel, "A Watcher in the Woods," goes like this: The Curtis family, Helen (Carroll Baker), her husband Paul (David McCullum), & their 2 daughters, Jan (Lynn-Holly Johnson) & Ellie (Kyle Richards), rent an old English manor from it's owner, Mrs. Aylwood (Bette Davis), who lives in the guest cottage. The lady of the manor seems to be haunting, mean & eerily eccentric.

Jan experiences some paranormal events immediately after moving into the manor. For one thing, she can't see her own reflection in a bedroom mirror. Then, Jan begins to strongly sense that someone is watching her in the woods. Neither Helen nor Paul are keen about the girls spending time with Mrs. Aylwood. But, as Jan becomes more scared & curious about who or what is in the woods, the pre-teen begins investigating, starting with Mrs. Aylwood.

After Jan goes into Mrs. Aylwood's cottage to talk with her about the mysterious phenomena that she's noticed, the secret of the woods starts to be revealed by Mrs. Aylwood. Although she's very reluctant to talk about it, Mrs. Aylwood tells Jan the story about her pre-teen daughter's disappearance in the same woods 30 years ago.

The supernatural cinematic effects are well done. Bette Davis' subdued performance as a mysterious older woman makes the show a spine-tingling thriller. The suspense builds to a climax that is not predictable. The settings are spot-on & befitting for a haunted mood.

Keeping in mind that the genre of this movie is a family suspense suitable for children, I found it to be excellent.


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