Helen (Carroll Baker) and Paul Curtis (David McCallum) and their two daughters Jan (Lynn-Holly Johnson) and Ellie (Kyle Richards) are looking for a nice place to stay while in England and when shown a wonderfully charming English manor that seems to be perfect, and at an astounding low rent, they decide to take it. Before taking possession they have to meet with approval by the owner Mrs. Alywood (Bette Davis) and they get it after Jan has a creepy interrogation with Mrs. Aylwood. It seems Mrs. Alywood had a daughter that went missing under tragic circumstances and Jan may remind the old woman of her.
Creepy foreboding manor. *Check*
Creepy and eccentric old lady. *Check*
The house draws first blood.
“So that mean I’m a vampire, right?”
Okay, that is just a little hair-raising.
Really it’s just best to avoid mirrors all together.
Creepy forest of horror *check*
Did they look in the coffin?
Who knew playing weird games during an eclipse at an old chapel could end badly.
When Helen Curtis witnesses Ellie in some fugue state, as forces unknown channel demands that they find “the door” before its to late; she grabs both her daughters, packs their things, and flees the house. This is a completely reasonable response to seeing your daughter possessed and not one seen enough in horror films today. Unfortunately for dear Helen it is too late as the force in the woods will not let them leave. Their car dies on a rickety bridge and it’s only Jan’s premonition of danger that gets them out of the car and off the bridge before lightning strikes it.
The Watcher does not fuck around.
Things get a bit dodgy now as there are three different cuts to the ending of this movie. Originally when they perform the ritual the “Watcher in the Woods” manifests in the chapel and it is strange alien creature that then grabs Jan and takes her to another dimension to where we find poor Karen who has been trapped there, suspended in time for thirty years.
Apparently Jan found the Tardis.
Jan walks over to Karen, who is in some kind of light field, grabs her hands and they are whisked through time and space back to the chapel. We learn that when these four kids did the ritual it caused and accidental exchange resulting in Karen being stuck aboard a strange otherworldly dimensional space craft and the alien trapped in the woods on Earth. Sadly critics and audiences alike laughed at the puppeteered monstrosity so the ending was greatly trimmed and released a year later with major alterations.
Where’s Jim Henson and the gang when you need them?
“I am not a happy ending.”
Possessing little girls since 1980.
The Watcher in the Woods has had a few DVD releases with the one from Anchor Bay being the best, but there is a good chance your local library may have some version on hand and it is certainly well worth checking out.