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Tag Archive: The Watcher in the Woods


Review by C.J. Bunce

The best way to watch Get Out is to know nothing about the film’s conflict.  It’s enough to know that it follows an African-American man named Chris (played by Daniel Kaluuya) whose Anglo girlfriend of five months named Rosie (played by Allison Williams) takes him home to a secluded, forested town to experience the time-honored ritual of “meeting the parents.”  Chris’s best pal back home, Rodney (played by LilRel Howery), who works for the TSA and is watching his dog and his apartment, warns him not to go just like any friend who is looking out for his buddy.  What follows is your typical, awkward first meeting of the parents, which corresponds with an annual town party where Chris gets to meet all the locals.

But is this really a typical encounter?

One by one, elements of the town don’t seem quite right.  Is Chris just being paranoid?  As with Midnight Special, we’ll hold back on the rest of the details, even the true genre, although you can expect something of the dark drama or horror-thriller realm from the title and posters alone.  This one is excellently creepy.

Peele dances with issues of race and culture peppered throughout the story in a very real, imaginative, and thought-provoking way.  Fans of the more unusual horror films of 1970s will love this film–you might think you’re seeing bits and pieces of movies evoking anything from The Stepford Wives to Skeleton Key to Wicker Man to The Watcher in the Woods to Coma and Fallen.  Or you might see it as all-out horror, but without all the typical genre gore and violence.  Ultimately director Peele will give you only what you need to know, when you need to know it.  Best of all, Peele has that skill that so many filmmakers mess up:  He knows how to end a story with a satisfying conclusion.

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Of course the big highlight of October will not be a film at all, but the premiere of the entire second season of Stranger Things on Netflix, coming October 27.  But Netflix is also finally adding the time travel/horror/coming of age Donnie Darko to its streaming service, coming October 11.  Lifetime will premiere its remake of Disney’s The Watcher in the Woods, starring Anjelica Huston, on October 21.  Fans of the classic Universal Monsters will get their fix this month from Turner Classic Movies (TCM) throughout the month.  And Freeform (formerly ABC Family) has the modern classics and “family” viewing horror films including animated and mainstream films like Monsters, Inc., Frankenweenie, The Addams Family, and Sleepy Hollow.  You’ll find a run of Boris Karloff movies today on TCM, a Stephen King marathon on AMC on October 14, and a Tim Burton marathon on Freeform on October 23.

AMC does not post its television schedule more than two weeks in advance, so you’ll need to check your local listings for the annual AMC FearFest, but we do know it runs from October 23-31, and usually features a marathon each day, so you can probably expect a day each of films from Halloween, Freddy and Jason, Chucky, and Leprechaun films.  This year’s FearFest includes the following horror films: Halloween (1978), Halloween 4, Halloween 5, Halloween 6, Halloween H2O, Halloween II (2009), A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), Freddy vs. Jason, Friday the 13th Part IX: Jason Goes to Hell, Jason X, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, Child’s Play, Curse of Chucky, Cult of Chucky, Annabelle, Thinner, Dreamcatcher, Dawn of the Dead (2004), Land of the Dead (2005), House of the Dead 1&2, House on Haunted Hill (1999), Return to House on Haunted Hill, House of Wax (2005), Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Army of Darkness, Van Helsing, Lake Placid, Slither, and the Leprechaun franchise (last year’s Fest included Leprechaun 1-4).  Syfy Channel and Spike listings are posted below through October 17–listings are not yet available beyond that.  Chiller–the year-round horror network, carries its standard slasher fare, plus some better modern horror classics this month.  Chiller’s listings are reported only about two weeks out, so listings below are through October 14.  Spike begins some good Halloween classics on October 13.  Syfy is hosting its 31 Days of Halloween event again this year.

Other Netflix films coming this month related to the horror genre include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Ghost Patrol, 13 Demons, and Cult of Chucky, now available, Stephen King’s The Mist season one (October 24), and the bloody Quentin Tarentino Western The Hateful Eight (October 25).  TCM is highlighting horror on Tuesdays this month.  Freeform’s annual 13 Nights of Halloween kicks off October 19.  Starz Encore Suspense is another way to stream Halloween films this month.  Their inventory includes Pride & Prejudice and Zombies, Death Proof, Don’t Breathe, Rosemary’s Baby, The Funhouse, John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness, and entries from Final Destination, Friday the 13th, Halloween, Children of the Corn, Hellraiser, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and The Grudge franchises–and horror and suspense films are part of the channel’s daily schedule here.

Definitely cable channels and Netflix will have plenty for every taste and all ages this month, and this is before all the channels have published their end of month schedules.  So start with today, browse the selections and set your DVR now.  All times listed below are Central Time.

Tuesday, October 3
1:00A  Island of Lost Souls (1932) TCM – Charles Laughton, Bela Legosi
2:30  The Black Cat (1934) TCM – Boris Karloff, Bela Legosi (Edgar Allan Poe adaptation)
3:45  The Invisible Man (1933) TCM – Claude Rains
10:00  The Creature from the Black Lagoon – Starz Suspense
11:00  The Hollow – Syfy
12:00P  Pulp Fiction – AMC
1:00  Hollow Man 2 – Syfy
3:00  Hollow Man – Syfy
4:00  Old 37 – Chiller
5:30  Exorcism of Emily Rose – Syfy
6:00  All Cheerleaders Die – Chiller
7:00  Frankenstein (1931) TCM – Boris Karloff
8:00  Apartment 143 – Chiller
8:30  Bride of Frankenstein (1935) TCM – Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester
9:00  Drag Me to Hell – Syfy
10:00  The Mummy (1932) TCM – Boris Karloff
10:00  Old 37 – Chiller
11:00  The Mothman Prophesies – Syfy
11:30  The Wolfman (1941) TCM – Lon Chaney, Jr.

Wednesday, October 4
12:00A  All Cheerleaders Die – Chiller
1:30  Scream of the Banshee – Syfy
2:00  Apartment 143 – Chiller
5:30  Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – Syfy
8:00  The Mothman Prophesies – Syfy
10:30  Dead Still – Syfy
12:30  The Exorcism of Emily Rose – Syfy
3:00P  Drag Me to Hell – Syfy
4:00  Fender Bender – Chiller
5:00  Resident Evil: Afterlife – Syfy
6:00  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – El Rey
6:00  The Boy – Chiller
7:00  Insidious: Chapter 3 – Syfy
8:00  Wrath – Chiller
10:00  Fender Bender – Chiller
11:00  Dead Still – Syfy

Thursday, October 5
12:00A  The Boy – Chiller
1:00  Ghost Storm – Syfy
2:00  Wrath – Chiller
3:30  Silence of the Lambs – El Rey
6:00  Bram Stoker’s Dracula – Syfy
8:30  Holes – AMC
9:00  Ghost Storm – Syfy
11:00  Silent Hill – Syfy
11:30P  Total Recall – AMC
1:30  Resident Evil: Afterlife – Syfy
3:30  Insidious: Chapter 3 – Syfy
4:00  ATM – Chiller
5:30  Blade Runner – Syfy
6:00  Indigenous – Chiller
8:00  John Dies at the End – Chiller
10:00  Blade Runner – Syfy
10:00 ATM – Chiller

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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:

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