This Disney Studios attempt at entering the horror genre is a British production based on the chilling novel by Florence Engel Randall. An American family, headed by composer Paul Curtis (David McCallum) and his wife Helen (Carroll Baker), is renting an old mansion in England. The mansion's owner is Mrs. Aylwood (Bette Davis), who lives in a small guest house on the property. The mansion is surrounded by dense, forbidding woods. The Curtis children, Jan (Lynn-Holly Johnson) and Ellie (Kyle Richards), explore the forest. Mrs. Aylwood is continually searching the woods for her daughter -- whom she lost there 30 years ago. Over time, the children come to be haunted by the spirit of the daughter, Karen (Katherine Levy). The film was originally released in 1980 with an ending that included a huge alien from another planet. The studio pulled back the film after test audiences laughed at the special effects, and re-released the movie in 1982 with a new ending that circumvented the alien. ~ Michael Betzold, Rovi
This is one of the best Disney scary movies ever. It completely freaked me out as a child and is fun to watch as an adult (although the alternative endings are pretty cheesy). Definitely recommended for the 10-12 age group and their parents - as long as you're not worried about kids' nightmares.
I am a nostalgic 32 year old and have memories of this film on video as a kid. That said the movie is only fair. Great look and a few spooky moments but to little screen time for Bette Davis, and an ending that is way to vague to satisfy most make it somewhat anticlimatic. More of interest for film buffs who want to see the more imaginative alternate endings, although the special effects disappoint, the idea behind them doesn't. Also for disneyphiles it is interesting to see the marketing campagn behind the film when disney was attempting to make a grown up section to their film library. I personally found the trailers and the alternate endings more interesting than the actual film. Like most nostalgia, the idea is usually more interesting than the product.
This movie really scared the heck out of me when I was 9. But now 33 is very cheesy. Even for children for now a days, this movie might not be that scary anymore because of the special FX. But give it a try if you want. You never know.