One of my all time favorite movies is Disney’s “The Watcher In The Woods.” I remember seeing it as a kid and thinking it was so spooky, especially since we lived near a whole stretch of woods I used to play in.
The movie first came out on DVD in 2000 and was published by Anchor Bay, which included a butt-load of extras, including the original endings for the movie. The movie was adapted from a book of the same name, and apparently there were some 100 plus scripts and endings imagined. If you remember the movie and have not checked out the DVD, you need to! The original ending is hysterical and one can understand why it was pulled from theaters in one week, reworked and re-released a year later. You finally see what the Watcher looks like, or at least Disney’s imagining of it. You can currently get the movie on DVD from Disney, which includes the two extra endings. However it does not include any commentary from the directors and producers, which was available on the first Anchor Bay production. If you can find it used or new at a good price anywhere, snatch it up. It’s worth it, plus it has better picture and sound quality (odd I know that it’s better than Disney’s later version of the DVD).
After loving the movie for so long, learning about all the endings written for it, the tons of scripts and the problems plaguing a movie I so loved, I finally decided to track down a copy of the original book. It’s been long out of print, but you can find it used. I bought it off Amazon.com and paid more for the shipping than the price of the book. I’m only half way through it, but I’m just incredibly shocked at how different the book is from the movie! I mean so incredibly different. The basic story is there, Jan and her family move into Mrs. Alywood’s house, her daughter Karen disappeared, Jan senses something in the woods, her sister Ellie begins going into trances and speaking and writing backwards, Jan is determined to find out what happened to Karen. Other than that, the Disney version pretty much seems to have re-written everything! The Disney version had Karen disappear during a mysterious initiation with her friends that seemed to open a rift in the universe. So far that is not in the book, the only character from that circle of friends is the mother of Jan’s love interest and she didn’t even know Karen as she was only a baby when Karen went missing. In the book Karen went off for a walk in the woods alone and fell through the door, never to come back.
I have yet to get to the end, hopefully I will tonight. But this is such a weird turn-around for me. Usually movie version of book’s are always inferior. However I’ve loved this movie for almost 20 years now. So reading the book I’m facing the dilemma, do I think Disney’s version was actually better than the book? So far I kinda do! Had I read the book before seeing and falling in love with the movie, I don’t know how I’d feel.