The first instinct of diehard fans of any classic book, song, TV show, film, or anything else, is to flinch at the notion of a remake or reboot of a beloved original. For years we here at borg.com have included The Watcher in the Woods as a favorite recommendation of a ghost story. It’s a Disney film unlike any other Disney film–the rare instance of a movie being stronger than its source material (the novel by Florence Engel Randall), a Gothic ghost story (or is it?) that may be the creepiest and scariest story the studio released, certainly the spookiest of the 1980s. So a remake that is being released this year for the Lifetime channel being previewed at San Diego Comic-Con this year is going to hit our radar.
As a kid, the film bridged being surprising enough to get you to jump out of your seat without being an adult horror movie. As an adult, I have recommended The Watcher in the Woods to friends for children’s Halloween parties, and it’s proven still to be a hit for kids into their pre-teens. Melissa Joan Hart, known best for her Sabrina, the Teenage Witch series, is directing the remake, and as with the original, she enlisted one of the best to ground the film, Anjelica Huston, who takes on the role made famous by Bette Davis.
The result? Hart has at a minimum completely nailed the trailer. In an interview below she discusses concepts kept and concepts updated. But when you get to the trailer, any concerns for the remake pretty much vanish, like the key image of the trapped, blindfolded girl in the film. And the creepy woods as a singular character. In the original, “Bond girl” actress Lynn-Holly Johnson (For Your Eyes Only, Ice Castles) and Kyle Richards played the sisters with Richards at the height of her child-actor career between Halloween and Little House on the Prairie. In Hart’s new movie, these roles are played by young actors Tallulah Evans and Dixie Egerickx.
Even if you don’t agree Hart gets this one exactly right, you’re going to watch it because it’s on cable, and why not? Check out this nicely spooky trailer from Comic-Con:
And how about that great retro font? Fans of the original will be able to spot the differences in several story elements. The altered and updated elements seem similar to the remake of John Carpenter’s The Fog, with its more fleshed out backstory set in the distant past. We were fans of both of those versions, and think we’re going to be fans of this new version of The Watcher in the Woods, too.
Hart’s remake of The Watcher in the Woods arrives October 21, 2017, on Lifetime.