Here’s Hough


Fiona had a wee hospital thing yesterday which involved a very early start for both of us. While recuperating, she watched ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN, RETURN FROM WITCH MOUNTAIN and THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS, all directed by John Hough for Disney. After we bailed on the HERBIE quadrilogy when it looked like HERBIE GOES BANANAS wasn’t going to be edifying.

Hough certainly had talent, and an odd career that would see him making the Disney fantasies alongside paranormal rape flicks THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE and THE INCUBUS. But WATCHER may be his scariest film, aided by atmospheric locations, committed performances from Bette Davis and Ian Bannen in particular, and some really effective jump scares. And yeah, I know we’re all meant to be too big and mature for jump scares now, and I know they’ve been done to death, but… these are really good.

This UFO from the first WITCH MOUNTAIN is engraved in my memory. I’m old enough to just recall the old days of cinema-going: the family would rock up at the Odeon or ABC at any old time, and walk in on the end or middle of a movie, then watch through a whole double feature until we got back to where we began. So I saw the ending of this movie first, and its the one bit I recall.

Fiona was horrified to hear I experienced the cinema in this chaotic way. She always saw movies from beginning to end, like a person.

4 Responses to “Here’s Hough”

  1. Scorsese’s spoken often about he and his friends habitually walking into movies midway through and then sticking around to find out how the movie began, so at least you’re in good company…!

  2. It was totally traditional: Hitchcock tried to put a stop to it, but it lingered on into the 70s, until the cinemas started turfing people out between shows.

  3. James W Cobb Says:

    WATCHER IN THE WOODS went through a variety of cuts and at least two different endings. I wonder what version is generally shown now? It turned out to be something of a disaster for Disney.

  4. Fiona Watson Says:

    It may have been a disaster at the time, but Watcher is now a bona fide Cult Movie, it’s reputation built by word of mouth/keyboard only. These days fans seem to accept both endings since the DVD release in the early 2000’s, but I think the most seen one is the ‘possession’ version, where the little sister gets to explain everything in a wearisome info dump while a pillar of light forms next to her. Personally I prefer the weird ass SF version, complete with puppet, Lovecraftian alien. The titular Watcher in the original book IS an alien, but an alien female child.

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