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The Watcher in the Woods (1980)

Bette Davis , Lynn-Holly Johnson , John Hough , Vincent McEveety  |  PG |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (172 customer reviews)


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DVD 1-Disc Version $8.32  
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Product Details

  • Actors: Bette Davis, Lynn-Holly Johnson, Kyle Richards, Carroll Baker, David McCallum
  • Directors: John Hough, Vincent McEveety
  • Writers: Brian Clemens, Florence Engel Randall, Gerry Day, Harry Spalding, Rosemary Anne Sisson
  • Producers: Hugh Attwooll
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 6.1 EX)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: April 2, 2002
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (172 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003ETIS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #206,079 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Watcher in the Woods" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Deleted scenes including two alternate endings
  • Commentary by director John Hough
  • 20 page booklet with interviews, rare art work, stills and more

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Ghost story meets paranormal mystery in Disney's PG family spookfest, a rare kid-friendly scary movie that still manages to frighten. American girls Lynn-Holly Johnson (Ice Castles) and little sister Kyle Richards move into a secluded British manor cradled in a mist-shrouded forest, home to a ghostly guardian angel and a decades-old mystery that still haunts the place. Director John Hough (whose Legend of Hell House is a classic of supernatural suspense) delivers all the right shiver-inducing ingredients: flashes of light, whispers in the wind, eerie visions of a blindfolded little girl lost (the long-lost daughter of withered widow Bette Davis) reaching out from mirrors, as if trapped behind them. Though tame by today's bloody standards and a flop on its original release in 1981, this handsome little gothic ghost story has become something of a cult film for its suggestive direction, impressionistic imagery, and spooky sense of the unknown. Ages 9 and up, although more sophisticated younger kids should enjoy this. --Sean Axmaker

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
81 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary for all ages January 13, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
I was lucky or unlucky depending on your taste in movies to see The watcher in the woods on the big screen, upon its release in 1981. I was 12 at the time, and thought oh yea a Disney movie with Bette Davis....real scary. Well let me tell ya I spent a good portion of this feature crouched down in my seat, hands at ready position to cover my eyes. It was very scary indeed. With all the elements any spook flic buff could want. Fog covered swamps, abandoned farm houses in the middle of nowhere, a strange old woman(bette davis) with a hidden agenda, and plenty of good old fasioned surprise scares and suspense. Best of all, you can watch it with the whole family. Thats right, this movie does not rely on gore or profanity to aid in its chills. Its just naturally frightning. So gather up the family,load up the sofa, turn out the lights and enjoy....if you dare!
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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NERAK January 13, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
I think this has to be one, if not THE scariest of movies I have ever seen! This movie is non stop suspense! It strongly stands as a classic horror movie without all the blood and guts! It scared me to death as a little kid, but I kept going back and watching it over and over and over! For a while I was scared to look in mirrors, or if a breeze would blow through the wood when I was in them I couldn't (and still can't) help getting chill bumps sometimes. Many aspects make the movie scary - it's setting, the main plot, and mainly the music! I can still hear that song from the music box playing in my head. I think this is a brilliant film, and was impressed that Disney made it. Though it may scare the pants off your kids, I don't think it's inappropriate for them. It lacks todays standards of what makes a "good" horror film - blood, guts, extreme violence, nudity and horrid language left and right. Though the movie is scary, it still holds that Disney "wholesomenes." If your kids want to see a scary movie, let them watch this one. I watched it and I'm fine ten years later! Besides, the end of the movie explains what the heck was going on, and you understand that it wasn't some psycho monster lurking in the woods. The problem is resolved, and the ending is relieving and happy. It's a great thriller that keeps me coming back. It you haven't seen it YOU MUST!
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
Based on the novel by Florence Engel Randall, THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS is a finely-crafted Disney thriller with Bette Davis and a great cast.

The story is about an English-American family (David McCallum, Carroll Baker, Lynn-Holly Johnson and Kyle Richards) who move into a creepy mansion in the English countryside. The estate also includes Mrs Aylwood (Bette Davis) who acts as a caretaker of sorts. Mrs Aylwood's daughter Karen mysteriously died in a fire many years ago and she has never really come to terms with her grief.

Once the new family moves in, strange things begin to occur. Eldest daughter Jan (Lynn-Holly Johnson - ICE CASTLES) senses something watching her, and starts seeing a blindfolded girl in mirrors. Younger daughter Ellie (Kyle Richards) adopts a little dog and calls it 'Nerak' ('Karen' spelled backwards). Everything that happens seems to lead back to Karen Aylwood and her mysterious death. Jan and Ellie join Mrs Aylwood in a race against time to stop the hauntings and hopefully find out what really happened that fateful night...

Bette Davis gives a mesmerizing performance as Mrs Aylwood (with Georgina Hale also fine as the younger Davis during the flashback sequence). David McCallum sadly doesn't get much to do as the father, though Carroll Baker impresses in her relatively-small role as the mother. Lynn-Holly Johnson (following her breakout role as Lexie in ICE CASTLES) is a knockout as Jan and Kyle Richards is just plain spooky as Ellie.

Filmed entirely on location in England, the tense and eerie atmosphere is perfectly carried throughout the whole movie. Also featuring Eleanor Summerfield, Ian Bannen, Richard Pasco, Frances Cuka, Benedict Taylor and Katherine Levy.
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38 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something Is Watching. Something Unknown. September 16, 2004
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Perhaps the watcher in the woods is a female? If so, am I'm not saying it is, I wonder if she's got Bette Davis eyes? Get it? Watcher? Eyes? The Kim Carnes song? A bad joke? Yes it was, but I was stumped for a way to start my review, and inspiration seems to have failed me yet again...The Watcher in the Woods (1981), released by Disney, directed by Englishman John Hough, who also did Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) Return from Witch Mountain (1978), and a couple of episodes for television program Hammer House of Mystery, stars Bette Davis, Lynn-Holly Johnson, who also appeared in films like Ice Castles (1978) and the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only (1981) (the early 80's were pretty good for Johnson, but her career has since taken a detour in the land of the B movies), and Kyle Richards, who started out on the television show Little House on the Prairie, but then moved to major horror features appearing in The Car aka Deathmobile, John Carpenter's Halloween, and its' sequel Halloween II. Also appearing are Carroll Baker (Baba Yaga) and David McCallum, probably most known as secret agent Illya Kuryakin from the popular 60's television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

The film begins with an American family, recently re-located to England, looking for a home. McCallum plays the father, Baker the mother, and Johnson and Richards as the two daughters. They find a real deal in an old English manor, owned by a peculiar old woman named Mrs. Alywood (Davis), who happens to live in a smaller house on the property, and is very particular about who rents the larger house, but, on meeting Jan (Johnson), and her younger sister Ellie (Richards), she agrees to allow the family to rent the place.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Definitely a lesser Disney flick from the Ron Miller era
I recall having seen this film when it first came out in 1980. I was about 15 and it was... not scary, not engaging and not so great. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Dmarkwind
5.0 out of 5 stars Childhood favorite
A childhood favorite of mine that I never get tired of watching. Not your usual ghost story and it is appropriate for the whole family to watch.
Published 24 days ago by Leann Maxim
5.0 out of 5 stars Great oldie
I loved this movie as a kid and wanted to share with my children....everyone loved it and even I was scared all over again! Fun clean family movie!
Published 29 days ago by sparks
4.0 out of 5 stars Memories of Days Gone By
I watched this many years ago, and it stuck with me. I wanted to add it to my movie collection. Bette Davis is wonderful, the story unique and entertaining.
Published 1 month ago by jewelry designer
1.0 out of 5 stars This is not a scary movie.
I read a rating that said this was the scariest Disney movie ever. It was not scary at all. It didn't meet my expectations.
Published 1 month ago by Alycia Barkley
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than I remembered!
This is a good combination mystery/science fiction thriller. It might seem alittle corny in some areas, but still a good movie. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Bobbie Treloggen
5.0 out of 5 stars my daughters favorite movie
Good for mystery fans and Bette Davis fans alike. A twisty mystery full of suspense. My family likes to watch this movie to remember the first time we watched it.
Published 1 month ago by bobbie kaald
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE
I remember this movie from long ago and had to order it. I love Bette Davis and shes not so sinister in this but has a good role and plays the part well.
Published 1 month ago by Tonja
5.0 out of 5 stars Watcher in the Woods
We had this on VHS for years and periodically I would go back and watch it. I'm a big fan of Bette Davis and she does a great job in this rather spooky movie. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Betsy B. Ballard
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleased
Pleased to be able to get this movie. One of the classic's. Very happy to be able to add this one to my collection.
Published 2 months ago by Don
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