Watcher in the Woods, The (film) When an American composer and his family rent a foreboding house in England from an eccentric recluse, Mrs. Aylwood, a series of terrifying events occur, primarily to 17-year-old Jan. It turns out that the eerie experiences are connected to Mrs. Aylwood’s teenage daughter’s disappearance 30 years earlier. A reenactment of the disappearance unexpectedly reveals the secret of the unknown force. Released on October 7, 1981. An earlier version premiered April 16, 1980, in New York but was withdrawn so a new ending could be filmed. Directed by John Hough. 84 min. Stars Bette Davis (Mrs. Aylwood), Carroll Baker (Helen), David McCallum (Paul), Lynn-Holly Johnson (Jan Curtis), Kyle Richards (Ellie), Ian Bannen (John Keller), Richard Pasco (Tom Colley), Frances Cuka (Mary Fleming), Benedict Taylor (Mike Fleming), Eleanor Summerfield (Mrs. Thayer), Georgina Hale (young Mrs. Aylwood). The film was based on the novel A Watcher in the Woods by Florence Engel Randall. St. Hubert’s Manor, a huge estate situated near Ivor Heath, Buckinghamshire, was used as the site of the Curtises’ vacation dwelling. Ettington Park Manor, a Gothic mansion, and an old stone chapel nearby were also used in the film. Scenes were also filmed at Pinewood Studios, London. Art Cruickshank and Bob Broughton supervised the supernatural effects, utilizing Disney’s ACES (Automated Camera Effects System), which culminated in the finale. However, when early audiences in New York saw its premiere and disliked that special-effects-laden ending, the Studio cut it. Mary Poppins was re-released to fill the gap, while a new ending was filmed and the movie was released again in October 1981. But it was too late, and the film generally failed at the box office despite the wonderfully eerie direction, music, and Bette Davis’s performance. Released on video in 1982.