Monday, 23 July 2012

The Watcher In The Woods (1980)

"She had to. She had to push you down to get you loose from the branch.
She saved your life."
At a glance:
What an age it was when Disney made horror movies to spook kids out. John Hough's Watcher In The Woods, a troubled adaptation of what I understand to be a very dark 1976 novel by Florence Engel Randall, went down the annals of cinema history for bein pulled from theatres after its initial release in 1980, for havin a CGI endin that was "laughed off the screen" in the words of the director himself. It was re-released in 1981 after bein re-edited with a revised endin. Many remember this movie from their childhood but me, so I thought I'd give it a go, since I've just been just catchin up on older horror movies like The Sentinel (1977) and Ghost Story (1981). Story? It's about sisters Jan (Lynn-Holly Johnson) and Ellie (Kyle Richards) who move into a manor owned by Mrs. Aylwood (Bette Davis) and get haunted by Karen, a girl who disappeared inside a chapel near the village 30 years ago.
Bad news on the doorstep:
Lynn-Holly Johnson ruined it.
There's a good account on Wikipedia where you can read all about the muddled state of affairs regardin its 1980 release but that doesn't tell you how very poor the actin was indeed. Save for Bette Davis, everyone's performance, especially lead girl Lynn-Holly Johnson, was so ham-fisted to the point of destroyin all tension and mystique, never mind the debate about which endin was used in what version. Many people recall this movie from their childhood and single it out as bein a truly traumatic memory, so I guess that's just a pocket of culture I missed out on. I remember not sleepin well for years after watchin Stephen King's It (1990) so that's probably my replacement.
Perennial wonderment:
If they could do it back then, why not now? The movie in most dire need of an endin rewrite and re-release would be The Devil Inside (2012), no doubt. Still very bitter over that one!
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
Apparently it would've been Disney's first ever PG-rated flick but due to the delays and reshoots, The Black Hole (1979) took that honour instead. Anyway, the out-of-print 2002 Anchor Bay DVD release used to go for US $200 and that's the one with the most features, so unless you're willin to spend, you'll most likely get yourself the cheaper 2004 Disney release. The Watcher In The Woods (1980) has some academic importance but nothin compellin here for the horror movie fan. Jog on. ★★