6.5/10
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The Watcher in the Woods (1980)

PG | | Family, Horror, Mystery | 1981 (Mexico)
When a family moves to a country home, the young girls experience strange happenings that have a link to an occult event years past.

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writers:

(screenplay), (novel) | 2 more credits »
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1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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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
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:

A Masterpiece Of Suspense! See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1981 (Mexico)  »

Also Known As:

Az erdei kápolna titka  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

In the alternate ending, when the alien ascends with Jan in its arms, the wires used to cause ascension are clearly visible. See more »

Quotes

Paul Curtis: You know how old mirrors are. I never made a move yet without something getting broken.
Ellie Curtis: Hey, that's seven years' bad luck!
Paul Curtis: Nonsense. I broke a mirror the day I met your mother.
Helen Curtis: I'm not sure that makes your point, darling.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Pop Culture Beast's Halloween Horror Picks: The Car (2015) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Not a masterpiece, but a sadly overlooked horror gem from Disney
13 June 2000 | by (Brighton, East Sussex, England) – See all my reviews

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!


6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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