The Watcher In The Woods

The Watcher In The Woods

watcher in the woods still

The next in our month of family-friendly horror films is Disney’s first attempt to branch out into horror. What starts out as a simple ghost story takes a sharp and somewhat baffling turn. But what we can say about The Watcher In The Woods is that it’s definitely unique and controversial – and Bettie Davis’ role as Mrs. Aylwood is iconic.

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The Watcher In The Woods (1980)

Episode 205, 2 Guys and a Chainsaw

Todd: Hello and welcome to another episode of two guys and a chainsaw.

I’m Todd. And I’m Craig. Well, Craig, we are a week two into our month of child, or I guess we should say family oriented horror movies. Yeah. And we all know the company around the world that is the most responsible for family entertainment is Disney. Probably by now. Disney’s done a few of what you might consider horror movies, but back in the late seventies early eighties they hadn’t really ventured out into this arena.

Now, we’ve recent, we, not long ago, I think for a hundred 50th episode or maybe our hundredth episode, I don’t remember. We did something wicked this way comes, which was a Disney movie that took a little bit of a different, you know, a little more mature than most of their other films based on a Ray Bradbury novel.

That’s quite good. And us both being Ray Bradbury fans and big fans of that movie from our childhood. We really had a lot of great things to say about it and it’s a fine film. Yeah. This movie predates it a little bit, but not by much. Uh, this is 1980s. The watcher in the woods now, I remember seeing a lot about this movie because whenever we’d rent a Disney VHS tape from the video store, they always had this pre-roll before it, like this sort of advertisement for a whole bunch of their other movies that were available on VHS.

Craig: I remember that. 

Todd: You remember that? Do you remember this? This movie being in there too? It always looks so scary. It’s this girl in this mirror and something cracks and she’s blindfolded, and Betty Davis has creepy face pops in there, all kinds of stuff. Uh, and so I’ve really, at one time was really wanted to see this movie, but we never could get our hands on it and never did, uh, as a kid.

But it was known at the time. One of Disney’s first scary movies where they were going a little bit more for a young adult audience than the kid audience, and more of a PG or PG 13 than the G that fair that they had been known for before. In fact, I think around the same time, they also did the black cauldron, which wasn’t terribly successful.

It was a pretty dark for a Disney movie at the time. So, uh, it’s a bit of a notorious film in that way. And, uh, I. Finally got to see it for the first time. Um, in elementary school in a kind of an odd way, you know, back when we were in elementary school, we still had actual like film projectors and things being called into the classroom.

And for some reason, one time, I think it was during a music class that we were supposed to have but got canceled for one reason or another. We instead watched this movie. But it was a truncated version of this movie. It was like a, like a, maybe like a 45 minute to an hour max version of this movie. This movie is about hour and a half.

It ended very abruptly and it wasn’t like they had to change the reel or anything. It literally ended and then a slide came up saying the end, it cut out so much of the actual ending of this movie. It creeped me out and then I was like. 

Craig: Oh, 

Todd: is that it took me, took me til my adult years to finally go back and want to see this movie again and watch and realize that it actually had a good 20 to 30 minutes past where they ended this movie during this, this film reel that I watched when I was in elementary school.

So this movie. If its own way has kind of haunted me through my, through my early life, and we’re reviewing it again today. So that’s my backstory at this. How about you, Craig? Had you seen this before? 

Craig: No, I hadn’t seen it before. I knew about it. It pops up in articles and things every once in a while. And I really like, uh, Betty Davis, but I know I had never seen, and I knew that they had fairly recently in the last few years, done a remake, um, with Angelica Houston.

Um, but I haven’t seen that either, and I hadn’t. Seen this. So I was kind of, uh, excited to get to see it for the first time. 

Todd: Well, what did you think of it? 

Craig: You know, honestly, I thought I liked it. Uh, and I’m kind of surprised because I don’t know, you know, it’s not the standard fare that I watch. I mean, this is stuff that I would have watched when I was a kid.

Uh, and I think. That I maybe would have appreciated it even more as a kid, but I, I still think it’s a good movie. It’s not scary. I would say that it’s suspenseful. I thought that it was a good ghost story and it had, you know, good intrigue. I think the thing that as an adult that I was most impressed with was the quality of the filmmaking.

Um, I mean, some of the cinematography was really beautiful. The .  was not bad. I had it in my mind for some reason that this was a made for TV movie. Um, maybe just because by the time I was old enough to be aware of it, they were playing it on Disney channel or something. I dunno. Um, as it turns out, the Disney company had intended it to be a television film, but then for whatever reason, they changed their mind, uh, at some point and decided to make it a theatrical release.

Um. And you can still kind of tell just in parts how it kind of feels like a TV movie. Um, because it feels like there are places where commercial breaks could be easily worked in like 

Todd: without that little fade out. 

Craig: Right, right, exactly. And then fade back into a new scene. It’d be really easy to insert some commercials in there.

It’s a slow burn, like you said, it’s short depending on what version you watch. And it has kind of a storied history because it was released, but audiences and critics didn’t particularly like the ending, so they pulled it out of theaters, um, and reshot endings and, uh, try to come up. All of different endings.

Recently when some, I think anniversary blue Ray release came out, uh, they had said that they were going to restore it to the original directors, cut what the director had really intended, but then they didn’t, Disney refused to release, uh, all of the original footage. And so it’s still what you get on Blu-ray, even though the director.

Juror says in the commentary, this is my original cut. He PR, he recorded that commentary before they made the decision not to restore it all. So even though he says, this is it, this is, uh, the director’s cut, it’s really not. But the extended. Or alternate versions are available on YouTube so you can watch them and I’ll be interested.

I did. I watched them both and I’ll be, when we get to the end, it’ll be fun to talk about it. It’s kind of like she, it’s like choose your own adventure. Like, Ooh, which ending did you like that. 

Todd: That’s true. I didn’t like any of them, to be quite honest, but anyway, I didn’t like my original end to get, maybe my original ethnic was even better than the others that are available 

Craig: where it just stops.


Todd: it really did. Once we get to that point, I’ll tell you all about it. It was a, it was really an interesting experience for me. Uh, anyway. Yeah. Okay, so let’s just dive in, right? Let’s talk about the movie a little bit. You’re right. It is a slow burn. I think it’s really more of just. A standard ghost story that, yeah.

Takes a sharp left turn pretty late 

Craig: right at the end. 

Todd: Yeah. Which is why it’s so confusing, but it’s, I think it’s pretty compelling from the beginning and it does jump in very quickly to some action. Actually, I thought the opening credits themselves were pretty creepy. It’s just these shots of the woods with the mist going through them, and it’s bright and sunny outside, but that dead.

Spooky music behind. It lets you know that all things are not well and there’s some chives and maybe some kids going LA, LA, LA, the background or something, the score for this film was quite good. Yeah, I think it’s, it’s very typical. It’s your so typical haunted house movie, right, where you’ve got this American family, Helen and Paul Curtis.

And their daughters, Jan and Ellie go to a giant Manor in rural England that the real estate person is taking them to. They’re going to stay there, I guess for the summer, or are they going to live there? I’m not sure. 

Craig: I dunno, I couldn’t tell you there because they’re not, they’re not buying the place. Um, they’re just renting it from this eccentric old lady, um, named mrs IO wood, uh, who actually lives in the cottage house on the property right next to the main house.

And yeah, you’re right. Like, it is so typical, like it’s almost identical to the beginning of burnt offerings. It reminded me a lot of . That in the beginning, and you know, right away they show up. And of course the house is gorgeous. It’s this huge, you know, actual English manner and it’s beautiful. It’s out in the middle of the woods and right away, the older girl Jan, who is played by Lynn, Holly Johnson, who I think is probably most famous, she played the lead in ice castles.

Um, and she was in some other big movies in the 80s. 

Todd: Figure skater, I think before, I think she was an ice castles for that reason. Not the best actress in the world, but probably 

Craig: better. She was fine. Yeah. Maybe 

Todd: for this time, maybe if she was all sudden a James Bond movie for your eyes only. She was BB doll, 

Craig: right?

Todd: Yeah. A year or two after this. She’s an adult bond girl. Right. Whereas she’s playing a, a kid in this film, like a teenager. She’s, 

Craig: yeah. She’s supposed to be 17, I think. So. I’m not that young. She’s the older, and then Ellie is the younger, Ellie’s played by Kyle Richards, uh, who’s a real housewife now. It’s, which is funny.

Um, Kyle Richards was also the little girl in the original Halloween. Yes. And is said to be reprising her role from Halloween in the next installment. 

Todd: Halloween kills. Yep. Isn’t that the title? 

Craig: I think so. So right away from the beginning, Jan like kind of looks out into the woods and gets kind of an eerie feeling right away.

And, um, when they’re looking around the house, she goes upstairs and she’s looking out the window and she’s got her hand on the window and she sees like some kind of weird blue light. Out there and then the window shatters underneath her hand. I mean, I guess it doesn’t technically shatter. It just breaks and it breaks into the shape of a triangle and there’s lots of shaped imagery going on throughout this.

And it was funny because I guess the movie was geared towards younger people because all the, they eventually start to notice these shapes showing up. All the time. And it’s so blatantly obvious what the shapes represent, but like the characters don’t get it. Yeah, that’s 

Todd: right. They do walk around a little too dumbfounded through most of this movie.

I wonder what those two circles could mean, but uh, yeah. And, and so the movie kind of goes on like this. They’re just finding some suspicious things. There’s this shape, uh, as well that shows up. There. She takes a walk through the woods, uh, and she sees a circle reflected in the water, and the circle has like a, it’s like a blue halo, and then there’s a zap, like almost like a laser beam that either comes out of the circle or is coming from the sky.

I’m not sure what, in any case, it knocks her off balance and she falls into the water. And after she falls into the water, a sister comes up screaming and she’s like, Oh no, what’s going on? And Betty Davis’s character, who you said earlier, her name was mrs  is there, and she’s got a big long stick and she’s poking at her under the water and it looks like she’s trying to keep her down and drown her.

But actually what she’s trying to do is free her from the branches that she’s caught in under the water. And there’s a long scene of struggle with her under the water, and it’s a little, I mean, it’s spooky for a little kid. I definitely, uh, Ellie, uh, looking at her, she says 

Craig: she had to push it down, kitchen loose from the grains.

She saved July at factories, kind of jam some dry clothes. Well, yes. 

Todd: And so they are in mrs L woods cabin now. Uh, and mrs Elwood is now a little more kind to them and not quite as surly this time around. But I think the first time that she had met them, she looked at her at Jan very, very strangely. Like she reminded her of somebody.

There’s talk about her previously having a daughter that disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Uh, and this. This happens once or twice in the movie, mostly by this nearby guy. I guess. He’s like a, they have a mechanic shop or something. Right. 

Craig: I don’t know. It’s like a country store or something.

Cause I feel like the girl’s mom is buying some things and like they ha there. There’s all these signs. Although the only one I remember, it was like puppies for sale. Like, like they just randomly sell like vegetables and puppies and I, you know, whatever along the side of the road, the, the woman who apparently owns this place has a teenage son named Mike.

And, um, Jan and Mike. You know, hit it off right from the beginning and are really basically kind of a couple throughout the rest of the movie. But yeah, we find out that, uh, Elwood had this daughter who had been Jan’s age and throughout, you get all these little haunted house ghost story moments, like at one point.

Point. Jan is looking in a big mirror that she’s setting up and she can’t see her reflection, but then this ghostly figure appears in the mirror and it’s a blonde girl in a white dress and she’s blindfolded. Um, and so, you know, there’s spooky stuff going on. All this intrigue, you realize that there’s going to be some mystery.

You know, who is this girl? It seems like it’s mrs Lyle happens daughter. It’s weird because it’s set up like Jan and Ellie both maybe have like some kind of psychic ability. Mrs IOL would even asks Jan when they first show up, she’s like, are you adventurous, kind sensitive? Do you sense things? She’s like, yeah, I guess.

Um, and so like, Jan can kind of see things, I guess. And Ellie hears things. 

Todd: Oh, I didn’t make that connection. 

Craig: Yeah. Ellie hears voices. She hears whispers and she hears humming. And she always thinks that it’s Jan and she’s always, you know, like she’ll say to Jan, that’s a pretty tune. You are humming. And Jane’s like, what are you talking about?

I wasn’t humming like, yes, you were. No. 

Todd: And there are also moments where she seems to be kind of possessed. It’s, it’s borrowing heavily from the shining Shirley at points. It’s really interesting because they’re also setting up the woods as a bit of a character. I mean, we know the movie’s name, the watcher in the woods, and every now and then there’s this huge breeze that will blow through.

Wind really, that blows through the woods. That doesn’t seem to come from anywhere. And every now and then we get the camera POV shots that almost look like something creepy. Looking out and watching, you know, very voyeuristic shots from the woods, like there’s somebody or something in there. And so there’s that aspect too.

And the mother, mrs Elwood. After she initially meets the girls and the girls run out, uh, she stares ominously in the woods from the front door of her cottage, and there’s a bit of a breeze that blows, and she says to the woods, they’re staying isn’t, is that what you wanted? So yeah, you’re thinking that there’s a supernatural presence of some kind that mrs ale is tuned into and that maybe these girls are tapping into as well.

And when Ellie gets this little puppy, I guess she finds it, or did she buy it from 

Craig: she? She got it from that store 

Todd: and that 

Craig: store sells every day. 

Todd: She’s holding the puppy and then she gets this sort of possession type thing where she starts staring off into space and with her finger, she scratches backwards in the dirt on the window.

Uh, what is obviously Karen. Backwards. 

Craig: Yeah. And not just backwards, but like mirror image. 

Todd: Mirror, image. Yeah. It’s just like she’s writing mirror, you know, the other way, just like the shining with red rum, you know, except in the shining. The kid writes the our back, you know, the right way. And it’s a little bit more of a surprise when you see it in the mirror.

And spoiler alert, it’s actually like a murder. But in this one, she’s obviously just written Karen backwards, but Jan comes over and it’s like, 

Craig: Oh, what’s that? The name of the Merrick, but what does it mean? You outta know? You whispered it to me. I was talking to Mike. Well, I heard somebody said, never seen you write 

Todd: like that before.

You’ll see later from this, we’re outside and one of the neighbors, one of the neighbor ladies, her name is Mary. Is talking to I think their mother or whatever, and she looks over her shoulder and sees from this side of the window that Karen. Is has been scrawled on the window, and that freaks her out.

She immediately makes an excuse to leave. So it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that there’s this girl, Karen, she’s probably mrs ale Wood’s daughter who disappeared and she’s sort of haunting these girls and that’s what they’re seeing. And. In the reflection and in the window. 

Craig: Well, in the, after the whole almost drowning incident, mrs aisle would, um, gives them some backstory and it’s in the form of a flashback and we see young mrs

It’s funny, I read that. Betty Davis wanted to play the role, both in the younger version and in the older version. And they, they tried to make her up to look young and they, they filmed this flashback scene with her. Um, but when they watched the dailies, the director waited until everybody else was out of the room.

And then he looked at Betty Davis and said, um. Nobody’s going to buy you as, as this young woman. And she was, she agreed. She was, she, she was like, you’re goddamn right. 

Todd: You could imagine, 

Craig: but yeah. And so, yeah, Betty Davis was, you know. Elderly at this point. I mean, she looks good for a woman of her age, but she’s, she’s not gonna pass for 40 or 30 or whatever, um, 

Todd: makeup in the world to make that happen.

Craig: We, in the backstory, we find out that her husband had been killed in the war. It was the night of an eclipse, and she realizes that her daughter is at home, so she runs out looking for, there’s like a chapel in the woods. These woods are just full of random things. Like there’s the country store in one part of the woods, there’s this big chapel and another part.

There’s like random houses and things, but she runs to this chapel and she sees these other three young people running away, and then lightning strikes the chapel and there’s fire. I guess that the, the kids had been playing some kind of game. That’s all we find out at this point. But Mary didn’t run out and she was never found, never found dead or alive.

Uh, so, um, nobody knows what happened to her. The, after that story, we get motocross.

I was like, 

Todd: what 

Craig: kind of movie is this? 

Todd: Right. Mike limbo boat boy. The whole family’s out there watching the motocross that, uh, that Mike is in, and Jan and Ellie decided let’s go a little closer. And the parents go, be careful. Well, yeah, these two kids get about as close as you could get to the track without getting run over there.

Clearly. Dangerously close to these motorbikes, flying over these Hills. And Jan is on this standing on this flat rock with Ellie, and Ellie runs off to get a higher view, and suddenly she gets possessed again and she turns around and she yells at Jan to come over. And so Jan runs over and just at the point in which she reaches Ellie, this motorbike, this guy falls off of it and it goes flying through the air and it hits that rock and explodes just where she had been standing.

And I think Ellie says, Jan says, well, what did you want? And Ellie’s like, I didn’t want anything Nerrick wanted you is what she said. Nerrick or Karen or the watcher in the woods or whoever has just saved Jan at the motocross event. So, uh, you know, this is a thing about some of these ghost stories where they don’t seem to have these hard and fast little rules to their universe, right?

Is the house being haunted? Are the kids being haunted? Does the ghost travel with the kids? Does it run around helping them wherever they are? You know, kind of what’s the deal here? And I guess it really doesn’t matter where the kids are. Somehow this ghost has latched onto them and it’s going to make mysterious, spooky things happen around them.

Well, I was thinking during this too, and maybe it’s also because you know, a lot of thoughts go through your mind. Um, obviously the girl in the mirror with this blindfold who’s, who’s reaching out, whether she sinister or not, looks like she could be Jan right blindfolded. She’s got long, blonde hair, can’t see her face really clearly.

And then when. Mrs Elwood looks at her and sees old strong resemblance. You’re thinking, is there some kind of connection between these two girls that’s setting this off? You know, this metaphysical sort of reincarnation thing or whatnot that sometimes you see in movies. So it does really keep you guessing in a way as to the nature of this and what it all means.

Craig: Yeah, it does. But also some of these events. Like the motocross thing in that big accident, they don’t really serve any purpose other than to show maybe, I guess that this spirit or whatever it is, is protecting the girls for some reason. Maybe even specifically Jan for some reason. Um, but other than that, it just seems pretty random.

At some point we find out that Mike’s mom was one of the people that was with Karen that night. Um, and eventually we find out who the other two guys were too. I mean, they were all just teenagers, friends, but they’re all still around in the exact same location. Like they, they, they haven’t, they’re, they’re, they’re haunted and tormented by this horrible event that happened, but they choose to stay.

Right. Exactly. There 

Todd: it seems. You have like a one kilometer radius of this house, 

Craig: yet 

Todd: there are places you 

Craig: definitely can. Well, there’s a whole horse-riding deal. They go horseback riding and a wind. They go up to the edge of the woods and a wind blows out of the woods and spooks the horses and the horses take off and Jan’s horse like almost gets hit.

Buy a truck and the truck runs off the bridge and like, it’s a whole thing. And, but they end up at, uh, the chapel and Jan arrives first. Mike is on her tail, but she arrives first and she goes in and she sees that triangle. In blue, like the blue light triangle on this coffin that’s just laying there. She walks up to it and she sees that ghost sleeker, all laying in the coffin, and then Mike runs in and she’s like, Hey, look, she’s in there, but she’s not anymore.

She’s gone. And then this creepy guy shows up. We’ve seen him lurking around in the woods at least once before. It turns out that his name is Tom Collie, and he was another one of those friends who was there with Karen that night. Um, but then there’s the weird wind and some of the windows break out.

Weird stuff is happening in the chapel and when it’s done, these two circles of glass are laying either on the coffin or on the floor. Literally. One is in like a sun pattern and the other is dark and is yellow and the other is dark blue. So it’s so clearly. Like an eclipse, but they don’t, 

Todd: they don’t 

Craig: put that together.

Todd: Jan just looks at it. I wonder what that could possibly mean. 

Craig: But again, if it’s for kids, okay, kids might not put that together. All right. Um, but Tom, the creepy guy then runs off to another huge estate within a one kilometer radius and, uh, talks to the third and last guy, he says. Apparently wealthy English gentlemen or whatever his name is, John Keller, he completes the three friends who were there, and Tom says to John, I’ve seen her.

She was in the chapel. So Tom thinks that Jan, is Karen a ghost or or whatever. And so like, like I said earlier, it’s a slow burn. It’s like we’re just getting little bits of information as you go along. And, and at this point you can’t really piece together what happened except, you know, all three of those people were there and something bad happened, obviously, because they all are very sketchy about it.

And I think that that’s good for pacing. Now for me as an adult, you know, I was. Kind of like, okay, you know, let’s, let’s get to it. But as far as ghost stories, classic ghost stories are concerned, I feel like this is very par for the course. You know, you just get little pieces of the puzzle every so often until it all comes together at the end.

So that’s fine. Jane and might go to a carnival. Uh, and they go into the house of mirrors, which was, you know, a fun set piece. And Jan finds herself in one of those rooms where her reflection is multiplied like hundreds of times, but it turns in, her reflection turns into Karen. So Karen’s reflection is all around and she’s reaching out and you can’t, or Jan can’t hear her, but you can see that she’s saying helped me.

So from this point on, Jan is on a mission. Yeah. She’s going to figure out what happened, and she is going to find out what happened to Karen, and she’s going to solve this mystery. Um, and then, you know, she’s just Nancy drew for the rest of them. 

Todd: You basically, they go to Tom Collie, uh, they go to find this creepy guy who lives.

Is it a part of the, of the broken down chapel or is it just a broken down shed near the chapel? I’m not really 

Craig: serving a shack in the woods. 

Todd: It’s a walk through the woods to, and, uh, she finds him and he said at first is like, Oh, we’re not supposed to talk about what happened that night. We’re not supposed to talk about it.

John Keller told me we can’t talk about it. Well. Jan had tried to get John to talk about it as well, and he let a bit of info, but not much. And so when she told him that, uh, John had said it was some kind of say it was some kind of ceremony you guys were doing, then he opens up and then we get through flashback something.

Uh, basically the complete story. Yeah. Which is these kids went into the woods. They were doing this kind of ceremony and they said it was John’s idea. It’s, I guess, a ceremony to for this girl to join their group. 

Craig: Yeah. It’s an initiation. 

Todd: And so she’s standing on this coffin like, I guess it’s the coffin, right?

Craig: Yeah, I think so. 

Todd: And they all link hands and John has a few words to say, being brought to this place to prove yourself 

Craig: worthy of our secret society. We number only three. We three alone pass this test of courage. Many have tried and failed.

You missed nothing to do with the blind. You must not move a toe. We should hold hands around you and you must not break outside the circle of our friendship. Whatever happens, whatever we say or do. It must’ve bide by out code and banish all thoughts from your mind. 

Todd: Then it also happens that there was an eclipse that night and lightning came through the air and struck the bell on the tower just above where they were standing.

Started to set things a blaze. The kids break the circle and runoff, and as they turn around, Karen, who. Poor girl was still standing there, uh, on top of that coffin, a giant bell comes down on her, or at least that’s what everybody else thinks, except for Tom Collie who says that. I turned around and I looked and she was gone before that bell came down and apparently everybody searched.

To find her and couldn’t find her. So she just disappeared. Nobody found a body. Nobody found a chart up corpse or anything. And all the kids were just, you know, telling themselves all into adulthood that either she ran away or something mysterious happened to her, but they’re brooded by this ever since.

Craig: Right. And this is kind of random, but I just wanted to say, I don’t even have it written down. The guy who played Tom Collie, I just really liked it. TIS characterization. His name is Richard Pascoe. He played him in almost a childlike way that he’s, he’s kind of simple, but also kind and like he finds injured.

Animals in the woods and like brings them home and rehabilitates them and stuff. It seemed like he had a genuine affection for Karen, and not in like a gross pervy way, but like in an innocent, you know, childlike way. He really cared for her, um, and is really troubled, um, and has remained troubled by what has happened.

Uh, and I just, I really liked his performance. 

Todd: Yeah. He, it was. Oh, most, uh, he, he was like you said, a little simple but not too simple and just almost stunted. Like this event just stunted his development really. Like he was so traumatized by the event that he’s kind of retreated, become this hermit and, uh, hasn’t really grown up like a normal adult since then.

But like you said, very caring. It was a, you’re right, they, he was, it was quite, quite good in that way. I actually thought all of the characters in this movie really were pretty good. They were believable. The acting was fine. And, and I guess at some point in this mu, in this film, the father leaves quite early on.

He’s, I can’t remember what his job is, but he’s, 

Craig: he’s a composer. 

Todd: Oh, that’s right. He’s, he’s got sheets and sheets of sheet music he has to deal with and he drives off. And I guess it was like about 45 minutes into the movie. I was like, yeah, I wonder if dad’s going to come back in at some point. No, I’m not even.

He just up and left and nobody is says makes mention of him again. Nor does he come back. 

Craig: Well, the mother has a really small presence too, like at one point. They leave to like go into town and I thought they were going to be gone for the major action. I guess at some point the mom comes back because she’s in at least one kind of pivotal scene, but right after Jan gets all this information, we get a scene where mrs  would invites Ellie into her house.

She shows her Karen’s music box. She says, you know, this is the tune that a, you’ve been humming, your assistant tells me, you hear all the things. Voices that tell you to do things,

not when you named near that

isn’t child. Listen to the music and see if you can hear that voice again. But Janet erupts and comes in and Ellie gets up and says, Hey, look at this music boxes at night, isn’t it nice? And then Ellie kind of goes off to the side, and Jan and mrs aisle would are talking. And, um, Jan is telling mrs  what she’s just learned about the whole initiation thing, but then their attention is drawn back to Ellie, who is in another one of her chant trances.

She says. Must help Karen door and like this is all stunted. I feel like they’re asking her questions kind of in between, but she says, must open door chapel soon, and they’re like, Karen, Karen, how can we help you? And Ellie says, no, not Karen. And then she faints. Just at that moment, their mother comes in and sees all this.

And that’s enough for her. She’s like, we’re getting out of here, and we haven’t seen her in a while now. And I guess she just happened to wander in, but, uh, she’s bound and determined to get them out of there. So she puts them in the car and it’s storming and they’re headed away, but the car starts to die, like the electricity is going out.

The battery is shorting out or something and they end up stuck on this bridge and Jan says, we have to get out. We have to get out of the car. And so she convinces, she like takes the keys and she gets out. So the mom and Ellie get out and as soon as they get off. The bridge, lightning strikes the bridge and the whole car falls into like this ravine or whatever, and explode, explodes.

Todd: It’s, it’s, it’s just goes without saying that whenever a car is going to run off the road or fall down a ravine, it has to explode. Yup. And this film is no different. 

Craig: So obviously. Somebody, somebody or something wants to keep them there. What I thought was really kind of funny about this part was then it’s kind of like the mom just threw up her hands like, Oh, well, okay, guess we get got underwear.

Let’s go home and go to bed.

Todd: You were right, your little ritual thing. No, I thought, actually I thought it was a little interesting, a bit chilling. Um, when Ellie, and to me, this is one of the big reveals in the movie, even though ultimately I have problems with it. But, um, Ellie, when she says, no, not Karen, uh, then it introduces this whole other possibility that we’re not really thinking of that there’s some other entity out there, not Karen, and just brings up all these questions like, well, has it been this entity that has been reaching out to them?

Is it using this Karen thing to lure them in for some sinister thing? 

Craig: It made me think that, and. I thought that was spooky because you know, we, like the girls have thought that this was Karen reaching out the whole time. It makes logical sense that it would be, you know, she’s been missing. Jan is seeing an apparition of her.

So there, up until this point, there’s really been no suggestion that it would have been any one or anything else. And so now. You know, it’s, it’s like, Oh God, terrible example. But like which board, when they think they’ve been talking to that one kid for the whole movie, and then it turns out that they weren’t, that they were talking to something else.

And that’s kind of the same thing here. It makes you, if it’s not. Karen, then what does this force, whatever it is, what does it want? Like what is it in the game? 

Todd: Yeah. And I was also thinking back to when, um, mrs aisle would, at the very beginning of the movie, stared out into the woods and said, you know, they’re there.

They’re staying now. Is that what you wanted? And so I was thinking, Oh, she must have some sinister motive like she or you know, I mean, she’s clearly not talking to Karen. She has no idea what happened to Karen. So she’s talking to this other. Thing you know, is she had Coots with it. I didn’t know. It was like you said, it was very chilling.

Craig: Well, I think that she, I think mrs  would thinks that she was talking to Karen because when, um, yeah, when Jan’s talking to mrs  and she says like, what do you think happens to her? Mrs  says, I think she’s still here. Yeah. I think that she thinks that. Karen’s ghost maybe or something. I don’t know. But I think that she thinks that Karen is still around somehow.

Maybe she knows that there’s something else or suspects that there’s something else too. I don’t know it. It’s unclear. 

Todd: Yeah, it’s unclear. Well, but she could be just as confused as the rest of us, so yeah. For sure, 

Craig: right? Well, that night they’re sleeping and Jan wakes up and notices that Ellie isn’t in her bed and she goes into the bathroom where Ellie is writing on the mirror again in mirror image.

Uh, and she writes, do against Morrow. And then out loud, she says, too late, it hardly ever happens. But then there’s a noise or something that snaps Ellie out of her trance and she has no memory of what she was doing. She doesn’t know what she was talking about. But then the next morning. Um, Ellie is just, you know, she’s just herself, a little girl.

Um, she starts talking and she starts talking about the eclipse that’s going to happen that night, and she says those same things. 

Todd: It hardly ever happens. 

Craig: She’s like, will you help me make one of those. I can look at the eclipse box glasses things, but we have to hurry or otherwise it’ll be too late. Um, and so, uh, from all that, Jan figures out that the eclipse has something to do with it.

So she decides that she needs to get the three people who were involved in that initiation ceremony. Back together so that they can recreate it and then maybe that will bring Karen back. Now, how she leaps to that conclusion. I have no idea, but okay. 

Todd: It’s a bit of a problem. Not only the fact that she leaves to this conclusion, but that she can so easily convince all the adults to come out and do it.

Right. I mean, they put up a little bit of a fight. 

Craig: Yeah. Well the mean guy does. And she, she tells Mike, you got to get your mom to come. And I don’t know how they got the other guy there. They probably just asked. He’s nice. I don’t know. Um, she’s sitting there with the, the mean guy and, uh, she’s like, Oh, they should be here by now.

And he’s like, they’re not going to come. And then she’s like, Oh, here they come

Todd: from, and from there she just directs it like she knows what she’s doing. She jumps up on the coffin and she’s got a blindfold that she puts it on. She’s like, all right, now pretend I’m pretend I’m Karen. And you say exactly what you said that night. And he’s like, Oh, I can’t remember. She’s like, you’ve got to remember.

He’s like, okay. I remember. And then he starts in, uh, and repeating the thing. Now we’ve got to talk about the, the movie from here on, in the context of the version that’s officially available. When they do this, some gusts of the big wind comes in again and the chapel thing shatters. And they’ve talked about how they’re not supposed to break the chain, but, uh, one of the mother Mary tries to run out and break the chain and she’s held back.

Um, actually Mike is there too, and he’s threatened to break the chain. If anything bad happens to her. And then Ellie comes walking in in her trance again from the back of the chapel. 

Craig: Listen

we exchanged places by mistake, magnetic and are being transferred positions now exchange places. There’s this glowing energy that appears next to her. At one point, like you said, Mary breaks the chain and, and like the glowing energy fades, but they get her to come back and then the energy comes back and Ellie says, Karen was trans.

By mistake, trapped. And then this red light shines down on Jan, who’s still in the middle of this circle, and it starts to like pull her up into the air, but Mike breaks through the ring, grabs her, and pulls her back down. And so they tumbled to the floor and everybody tumbles to the floor. And when they look back where, uh, Jan had been standing, Karen is there, and.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, I don’t think I am in this version of the ending. Karen has aged, right? It looks like she’s supposed to be the age that she would have been had. This not happened, like she’s the same age as all of the other people who were at that ceremony and she’s standing there and then mrs would walks in.

And you know, just, you know, has this look on her face, like she can’t believe it. And she just says in Betty Davis is amazing voice, cat red, y’all, Whoa.

And I feel like they embrace. And then that’s it. That’s the end, you know? I was thinking, okay, you know, it solves the mystery kind of, I mean, I still wasn’t really entirely sure what was going on, but you know, they, they did the ceremony and it worked, and she’s back and there was the nice reunion. You know, I felt bad for poor old mrs IOL would through the whole thing.

Uh, and so I was glad to see them reunited and, and, and that was fine. I thought it was a satisfactory ending. I wasn’t blown away 

Todd: really. So. So for me, I was. I was jolted by the ethnic. Now, the very, when I told you when I very first saw this movie as a film strip in class, where it ended, the movie was Jan running in, I think to Tom or always, when she talks to Betty Davis’s character and says it was a seance, uh, and you know, it made her disappear and we have to go and do the ceremony again and to bring her back.

And then it ended, it was like Vienna . 

Craig: That’s so weird. 

Todd: It was so weird, but 

Craig: as a kid, no sense. 

Todd: It makes no sense as a kid. To me, that was like chilling. It’s like I finally get the answer to this and it’s some creepy ass ceremony. Say yachts, like a cult type thing that they were doing. And then, yeah, there’s no resolution.

Like so the second time I watched this, I expected there again to be this sort of a cultish type ceremony thing and it’s really more PSI fi. It’s been this ghost story. Up until this point, at least it’s had all the trappings of a ghost story. Very classically, I mean, hitting all the beats too, to the point where it’s kind of, everything’s more or less cliche, and then it becomes this PSI Phi thing where there’s this being from another dimension and it’s all just explained to you through Ellie’s voice.

And it begs the question of like. How did this group of kids with this little simple join our club initiation ceremony that Tom came up with, happen upon this mechanism 

Craig: to 

Todd: zap Karen away to have her exchange places with this other creature in this other dimension? He made up these words, right. They just went to this chapel in the woods and it happened to be during the eclipse and it just happened to be the right combination of events that would cause all this to happen.

So, right. They come back and they recreate the ceremony. I mean, did Jan need to stand in the middle? I mean, what would have happened if. The boy hadn’t jumped in and grabbed her out. Was the the the creature going to take her instead? What would she have gone and Karen would have come and they would have swapped places.

It seems like they screwed up the ceremony because they didn’t let it complete because they broke the circle. But it still turns out okay. Right. Cause this girl’s there. I dunno, I just, I just had so many questions about it. Like you said, I mean, it’s a resolution. But it all comes at you so fast and it’s such an immediate left turn on everything and it’s no longer ghost story, but interdimensional travel and it’s all told within, you know, a minute by the girl in a trance that it just, everything kinda hits you at once.

And I was in a daze. Oh, okay. All right. I guess that’s it at the end. It wasn’t the creepy, cool occult ending. I was expecting what? I was a kid in that and that got shut off 

Craig: right. Right, I get that. 

Todd: But this, this is only the ending they ended up with after use. Like you said, the test audiences are actually not the test audience.

I think they kind of premiered it or had sneak previews or something and it went really went over really poorly. It was like a film festival or something. And so they prod it back in and re tweaked it. 

Craig: So they’re these two alternate endings in the original ending, the one that the original audiences saw.

Instead of Ellie showing up in the chapel, this weird evil looking, I don’t know what to call it, an alien. It kind of looks like, like a demon maybe shows up and it’s this cool flying puppet kind of thing. Like you can totally tell it’s on, I can’t see the wires, but you can tell that that’s how they did it.

It comes in and it zaps Mike with like its eyeball lasers and then. It spreads. It comes right up to Jan and spreads its wings and envelops her, and then it ascends and it disappears with Jan. And then Jan’s mom shows up and she’s like, where’s Jan? And they’re like, uh, the one of the guys, I think Tom says it was a seance, you know, we messed it up or something.

And then there’s a flash of bright light. And Jan just reappears with Karen and she says, I found her, she was frozen in time and space. And in this version, Karen is still young. As though she has been suspended in time. Jan takes her back to the estate and mrs Elwood comes out of her cottage and they are reunited and it’s nice.

And then Jan and Ellie have a little talk. You got her back. We did it. You helped

I’m not sure a place where people are changed into negative images. How did you get there? An accidental exchange between the watcher and her and he needed my image to set her free. So what happened to the watcher? Well, now the watcher can go home too. Wherever that is. I just think that it’s interesting because in the version that they changed it to the one that we saw, there’s no mention of the watcher at all.


Todd: In the whole movie. 

Craig: So the, the tie, the title, I mean, I guess it makes sense cause you see those POV shots or whatever, but we don’t really get any explanation of who the watcher is. So at least here there’s some mention of it. So. Okay, so then that was the one that didn’t test well, so then they pulled it, and then I guess they went with alternate ending two, which was basically the same.

Um, there was some additional dialogue. Mrs IO, would you see her go to get. Jan’s mom to warn her cause she doesn’t want to see this happen again. 

Todd: She’s worried and they’re going to, she’s gonna you know, both her and mrs would both mrs  and the mother are running towards the to stop the seance basically.


Craig: Yeah. And there’s some extended dialogue in a couple of the other scenes too, but nothing really important. The big difference is when that demon envelops Jan, then we get this really trippy sequence in the other dimension. And it was so weird. Kaleidoscopic like LSD trip. Kind of thing with like ancient pyramids and spaceships and 

Todd: OCI flies across this alien landscape where there’s this spaceship that looks like it’s crashed into a glittering Lake, goes up into this, this flying saucer, and the demon drops her off.

Inside the heart of this place or whatever, it opens his arms and lets her go and fades away and she looks forward. And there is this glittery pyramid. And inside this pyramid is where the girl is trapped under kind of a beam of light streaming down some kind of energy field. So Jan slowly starts to approach her quite recklessly.

Yeah. Walks. Walks towards her, passes through this energy field, passes through this pyramid into there and embraces her. And I guess that’s all she really needs to do. Uh, and then she gets sapped back to the main room with her. And again, she’s. Super young again, 

Craig: and then things proceed as they did before.

Todd: Yeah, and at least this version, I mean, you could tell this is kind of what they had in mind originally because at least this version gives an explanation for all the triangle imagery, because we’ve been seeing this triangle in the glass. We saw this triangle on a light in the, on the coffin and the chapel, but.

I really didn’t understand where the triangle came from, and in this case, you can see the triangle. I mean, this girl is trapped in a, in a prism, like a pyramid shape. So that’s where that triangle would have come from and the ending that everybody ended up seeing, including us. There’s none of that.

Obviously this is, this is totally bizarre out there. I mean, this goes 100%. Bat shit crazy. So it’s pretty clear why audiences wouldn’t have liked this or why Disney would have chosen to go with eventually the editing that they went with and what I was reading one of the guys described, I mean to, to get a new ending for this movie, because the audience has hated it.

They literally pulled in writers. Like from out of the blue, they pulled in like PSI Phi writers and stuff and said, Hey, here’s our movie, here’s our script, here’s what we had. Can you help us write a new ending for this? And there’s kind of a war room basically of people writing different stuff. And I don’t know if he was exaggerating, but one of the guys involved said at one point, they were like 152 different possible antics for this movie.

So really, um, an interesting history behind it. I, again, I still don’t feel like the ending that they came to was very satisfying and didn’t resonate well with audiences. Anyway, I saw a Cisco and Ebert clip from their show during this. They were so confused. They both gave it a thumbs down, 

Craig: but the watcher in the woods is confusing and disorganized, and frankly.

I didn’t speak it only for myself. I didn’t understand the ending of this movie. Can you tell me, you walked out of the film, it’s all over. Where do those blue rays come from that came zapping out of the forest and blinded people and made them fall off? And what was the explanation for that or anything else in this?

Todd: Right. I think I know where the blue rays were coming from. I think they’re coming from another planet, believe it or not. Okay. But I bought that. What I couldn’t figure out was that little sister  she, I think is supposed to be from another planet. Yeah. She sticks around. No, I don’t get that. And I must say, I’ve had the same frustration you had in this picture.

Huh? I’m 35 years old. I can’t figure out what’s going on. 

Craig: How a nine year old was a nine or a 12 year old going to 

Todd: as a kid. I think you just kind of take what’s coming at you, you know? And you just sort 

Craig: of always get a say. You just don’t question, right. 

Todd: No, whatever. You don’t understand. You’re your kid.

You’re used to not understanding things, and you just kind of go, right. For what it is and it’s fine. So I imagined that adults were a lot more critical of this movie than kids ever were. 

Craig: Probably. I, I, I liked the ending with the other world. I mean, the, the effects are definitely dated, but it was interesting and it was such a strange, like you said before, left turn, like it just kinda came out of nowhere.

Plus I also really liked the design of . The being, whatever it was. It was really cool. 

Todd: I did too. And you know, I think the only reason they didn’t originally even go with this ending is because nobody was happy with how the effects turned out. And I mean, for the time, a lot worse. Crap went up on screen, you know, 

Craig: I don’t know.

Uh. You know, I, I would say overall, I probably wouldn’t watch it again. I can see how if I had been introduced to it when I was a kid, it might’ve been a favorite. Um, it reminded me in tone of like this afterschool special that I saw once when I was a kid and I, I, it just stuck with me. It was called like the red room.

Oh, mr or something. Gosh, I remember that. Yes. I remember 

Todd: that. Oh, that’s another one that’s haunted me since I saw it as a kid. And we should track that down. 

Craig: Yeah, I think it’s on YouTube. Uh, it reminded me kind of like that, you know, it’s, it’s spooky, but not so scary that it’s going to give kids nightmares, I don’t think.

And it’s, it’s decent storytelling, you know, little clues dropped here and there. You can kind of put things together and then it. Comes together at the end, you know, there, you have to make some, you know, logical leaps, I think. But, and, and I, like you said, the acting is totally fine. You know, there was no performance that I was bothered by and rolling my eyes at.

They were all fine. It’s not like it was stellar, you know, Oscar worthy performances or anything. But, um, they were fine actors. I really enjoyed. Betty Davis. I wish that she had more to do. 

Todd: So does she? I’m sure I, yeah. 

Craig: At that point, I think she was taking whatever roles they would offer her, sadly, but it’s not amazing.

But for its time and for a family friendly movie, I think it’s fun. And if I had kids, um, I think it would be fun to sit down for a family movie night. On the couch with some popcorn and watch this. I think I liked it. 

Todd: Yeah, I agree with you as a family. Film it, it hits the buttons. It’s, it’s suitably creepy.

Even for adults. I think you could be engaged with it. Not a lot of made for kids or made for family movies. They can oversimplify things a little bit. I think it’s still just a little cliche. It was cliche for the time, but it does hit all those notes of a classic haunted house mystery. So in a way, it’s cliche in another way.

It’s kind of satisfying. I would just say for me as an adult watching it, just my only criticism is that it doesn’t really follow through on the kind of movie it started out being and not that movies always have to do that. Sometimes a sharp twist or a turn in there is. Really exciting and really good plotting in this case.

It’s just so out there that I just wished there had been some clues earlier on some kind of mythology that had built, been built up at some point earlier in the movie. Just to prepare myself for the resolution cause to kind of get hit with all that in the last 10 minutes is, is a bit much. But once again.

You know, they, they salvaged what they could out of it. Um, I’d be really interested to read the novel actually, 

Craig: um, 

Todd: at the end of the day. Great for kids at a family as well. And, uh, definitely a horror movie. Alright, well thank you again for listening to another episode. If you enjoyed this podcast, please share it with a friend and you can find us online.

You can also find us on YouTube. Now we have a YouTube channel. Just search for two guys and a chainsaw or go to our website, two guys that got read 40 Where you can leave us a message, let us know what other films you would like us to review and let us know what you thought of this episode as well.

Please subscribe to us on YouTube if you can. We’re looking for more subscribers so that we can do more things with that channel and also don’t hesitate to send us requests. We are going to finish out this month with a couple more movies that are oriented towards families and kids, so stay tuned for that.

Until then, I’m Todd

Craig: and I’m Craig

Todd: with Two Guys and a Chainsaw.

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