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The Watcher in the Woods will give your kids a good scare

Updated on October 13, 2011

I remember liking this one when I was a kid. This was originally going to be Disney's first PG rated film. However a batch of re-shoots to slightly change the ending delayed the release long enough for The Black Hole to come out as the first PG Disney movie.

The movie follows a family who moves into a large mansion that they are renting. The owner, an eccentric old woman named Mrs. Aylwood (Bette Davis), is particular about who she'll let take the house. She is swayed when she sees Jan (Lynn-Holly Johnson), the eldest daughter. She reminds her of the daughter she'd lost years before. After moving in, strange things keep happening. Jan's sister, Ellie (Kyle Richards) appears to be hearing a voice and Jan keeps seeing the image of a blind-folded girl in mirrors.

The setup is pretty standard, but the execution is actually well done. Watch it with the lights off and allow yourself to get into the story.

Full disclosure here. I was wrapped up in a blanket with the flu when I watched this movie yesterday. Maybe it was partly the flu, but there were several moments where I definitely got chills. Not full on scared for my life, but that moment of chills is actually one of my favorite things as far as scary movies are concerned.

Now, there are a couple problems. There are a couple cuts that are a little bit jarring, though I think they were intended to be like that. And Lynn-Holly Johnson's idea of being more emphatic mostly involves getting more loud and shrill when she speaks and cocking her head at you.

Still, all in all, as a family-friendly scary movie, you could do much worse.

For me, this one gets a 7 / 10.

The Watcher in the Woods is rated PG for tense situations and a creepy atmosphere.


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    • Garlonuss profile imageAUTHOR

      Ryan D Peterson 

      7 years ago from Saratoga Springs, Utah

      Yeah, it's a good one. And I don't think enough people are really aware of it.

    • AmyBigmore profile image


      7 years ago

      I don't scare easy and that is one scary movie. It terrified me as a child and I still found it really creepy when I watched it the other day. I actually screamed when that pigeon flies out of the stone coffin thing!

    • Garlonuss profile imageAUTHOR

      Ryan D Peterson 

      7 years ago from Saratoga Springs, Utah

      Yeah, she's great. There's a section in the movie where we see a flashback to 30 years earlier, and Bette Davis was hoping that she could play her younger self. They did some tests with makeup to see what it would look like and it was terrible. The director hated to, but he had to take her aside privately and tell her that nobody would believe her as a woman in her forties. Davis just looked him straight in the eyes and said "You're Goddamned right." You gotta love that woman.

    • crackers10 profile image


      7 years ago from DreamWorld

      I have never seen this before but I love Bette Davis and will definitely have to look it up :)


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