6.4/10
4,808
86 user 31 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 »
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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 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:

Scared of going into the woods? You should be ... See more »


Certificate:

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:

Schreie der Verlorenen See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$5,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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 movie's closing credits declare that this picture was: "Filmed on location and at Pinewood Studios, London, England." See more »

Goofs

When Jan and Mr. Keller are in the chapel waiting for the rest of the people to come she looks through a stained glass window. It is a big missing piece she looks through, but when they show the rest of the people coming it shows the lead in the glass minus the stained glass rather than one big missing piece. 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 »

Alternate Versions

Original version ran 100 minutes. Notorious for the numerous ending recuts, the film runs 84 minutes. However, you can see some deleted footage in Jan's flashback dream. You see a flashback at the carnival in which Mike says "We've got to hurry!". See more »

Connections

References The Legend of Hell House (1973) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
72yo Bette Davis in a Disney Family Suspense-Thriller
18 October 2007 | by semioticzSee 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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