6.3/10
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92 user 35 critic

The Watcher in the Woods (1980)

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:

John Hough, Vincent McEveety (uncredited)

Writers:

Brian Clemens (screenplay), Florence Engel Randall (novel) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Bette Davis ... Mrs. Aylwood
Lynn-Holly Johnson ... Jan Curtis
Kyle Richards ... Ellie Curtis
Carroll Baker ... Helen Curtis
David McCallum ... Paul Curtis
Benedict Taylor ... Mike Fleming
Frances Cuka ... Mary Fleming
Richard Pasco ... Tom Colley
Ian Bannen ... John Keller
Katharine Levy Katharine Levy ... Karen Aylwood
Eleanor Summerfield Eleanor Summerfield ... Mrs. Thayer
Georgina Hale ... Young Mrs. Aylwood
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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 | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It was just an innocent game... until a young girl vanished for thirty years See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Disney's Official Site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 October 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Watcher in the Woods See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$5,000,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie in its initial American release in April 1980 had its season canceled by the Disney Studios in May 1980. This was so the movie's ending, which had been the subject of much criticism by film critics and public audiences, could be re-worked, with re-shoots, new special effects, and additional photography conducted. 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

Jan Curtis: Something awful happened here. I can feel it. Something awful.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Two endings were shot for the film: the original ending depicted the three adults in the circle. Instead of Ellie coming in, possessed by the spirit, a black demonic creature comes up the aisle and envelopes Jan. They ascend and disappear into thin air. Jan's mother then comes in and wonders where Jan is. When she can't get a word out of them, she starts to worry to the extent. Then, out of nowhere, Jan re-appears with Karen, still the same age as she was when the incident in the film first took place, and she takes Karen to see her now aged mother. They run in the lawn and embrace each other, with Jan in the background, crying with Joy, then Ellie asks where the Watcher went to. Jan replies "Home, where ever that is." Thus the credits come. See more »

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User Reviews

 
So-so
6 January 2003 | by preppy-3See all my reviews

An all-American family (mom Carroll Baker, dad David McCallum and daughters Lynn-Holly Johnson and Kyle Richards) move into a beautiful estate in Britain watched over by the houses owner (Bette Davis). But Johnson feels something watching her from the woods surrounding the house and little sister Richards is acting VERY strange. And how about Johnson looking just like Davis' daughter that disappeared 30 years ago?

Weird hybrid of ghost story and sci-fi from Disney. This was one of their failed attempts to make PG films in the 70s and 80s. This movie isn't totally horrible--it's well-directed with some very creepy scenes--the forest scenes are spooky and atmospheric and there is a very scary hall of mirrors sequence. The main problem with this is that the final explanation of what's going on makes no sense and Johnson is a lousy actress. Also father McCallum disappears completely halfway through and the ending (which Disney changed THREE times) is an absolute mess.

So, it's OK but (sadly) doesn't hold up.


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