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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 »
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1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Director: Alfred E. Green
Stars: Bette Davis, George Brent, Eugene Pallette
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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 Frances Cuka ... Mary Fleming
Richard Pasco 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:

As You've Never Seen It Before 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:

1981 (Mexico) See more »

Also Known As:

A Watcher in the Woods See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$5,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Walt Disney Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

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 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

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 »

Quotes

Mrs. Aylwood: Did you hurt yourself?
Jan Curtis: Oh, it's just a little cut. I thought... I thought I saw something out there in the woods.
Mrs. Aylwood: What sort of person are you?
Jan Curtis: That's hard to say. Just average, I guess.
Mrs. Aylwood: Are you adventurous? And kind? Are you kind?
Jan Curtis: I... try to be.
Mrs. Aylwood: And sensitive? Do you sense things?
See more »

Alternate Versions

A scene was re-shot where Jan is screaming hysterically when they return home after the family car goes off the bridge. Helen tries to calm her down, and when all ends fail, slaps her. Disney thought it too violent and intense, thus re-shooting the scene where Jan's mother shakes her. See more »

Connections

Remade as The Watcher in the Woods (2017) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

Incredible film that holds up well to age
21 September 2004 | by hushichoSee all my reviews

When I was younger I saw this film for the first time and it made an impact, although with age of course the memories faded. However, when I spotted the recent release DVD of this title I had to get it. I felt compelled, and so I snatched it up. When I sat down to watch it, I was instantly drawn into a world of eerie mystery that's surprisingly well-done, especially for a film that bears the name of Disney, notorious for their sanitized, 'family-friendly' fare. This certainly wasn't anything like most of their films, and it was a welcome change. I found myself putting together the mystery a bit faster than the characters, although I was indeed thrown a curve by the ending, which was still quite impacting. The thing about it is, even the alternate endings included on the DVD are still just as impacting, each in its own way. Each one makes quite an impression, and each one resolves the story without tying up each loose end in an impossibly pat way. The 'default' ending is abrupt but poignant, whereas the others are more drawn-out and overtly horrific. But the buildup makes it so, and the buildup is absolutely faultless, especially with the inclusion of the understated and brilliant Bette Davis.

I was absolutely floored by it. Watcher in the Woods is every bit as brilliant a horror film as any other much-discussed title, if not better. It's reminiscent of Lovecraft in many ways and yet gives a distinct impression of a dark, dark fairy tale. The acting is very good, the cast excellent, and the settings simple and isolated yet stunning and evocative. Every fan of film, horror fans in particular, must see The Watcher in the Woods. The DVD release is something that collectors too will enjoy, with the trailers and alternate endings cleaned and clarified for their magnificent DVD presentation. This is a film that should, and will, live in history as one of the hidden gems of film.


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