31 Days of Halloween Day 29 – The Changeling (1980)

31 Days of Halloween – Day 29

The Changeling (directed by Peter Medak, 1980) When I think of a haunted house, I do not think of skeletons crawling out of the basement, blood pouring out of the faucets, or ancient burial grounds. A Haunting is more effective when the occurrences are more subtle. Unexplained sounds, objects moving by themselves, and shadows are the things that fear are based on. The Changeling hits all the right classic ghostly spots. This is how a haunted house movie should be done. There are no over the top CGI, ridiculous looking specters, or bleeding walls. The film relies on good old fashion tension, a creepy mansion, and the theory that less is more. Grief stricken composer John Russell has recently lost his wife and daughter in a freak auto accident. Trying to piece his life back together, he takes a teaching job in Washington State, and subsequently takes residence in old mansion. Strange things begin to take place; taps turning on themselves, timed banging noises, and doors opening unaided. The discovery of a locked room in the attic has troubled the new tenant as well. After things begin to get worse, John has a medium come in the house. The results lead him to dig into the history of the house, and he discovers the eighty year old unsolved murder of a young boy. The ghost of the boy needs John to bring the secrets to light so his soul may rest, and the truth can be known. There are some really unsettling scenes in The Changeling. The murder of the boy, the medium making contact with the spirit, and the reappearing rubber ball are all haunting. If you have watched the film, you know exactly what I mean. George C. Scott provides a special performance, devastated by his loss, yet dedicated to solving the mystery of the mansion. He is a commanding screen presence. The mansion is vast and also gives a worthy performance as the vessel for the vengeful child spirit. I am not sure what age I was when I first watched The Changeling; maybe ten or twelve. But it took me a long time to watch it again. My greatest fear as a kid was ghosts, and this film scared the holy hell out of me. The effect has diminished, but it is still the measuring stick I use when comparing movies of the supernatural genre. Not a lot of films measure up to this classic haunted house story. Let this movie provide you with a worthy Halloween haunting.

Cool Fact: The Changeling won a handful of Genie Awards (the Canadian Oscars) including Best Picture, and Best Performance by a Foreign Actor (George C. Scott).

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Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys
  • Day 13 – Child’s Play
  • Day 14 – Sleepy Hollow
  • Day 15 – House of 1,000 Corpses
  • Day 16 – The Devil’s Rejects
  • Day 17 – Night of the Living Dead
  • Day 18 – Dawn of the Dead (’78)
  • Day 19 – Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
  • Day 20 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • Day 21 – The Cabin In The Woods
  • Day 22 – A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
  • Day 23 – The Exorcist III
  • Day 24 – The Evil Dead (1981)
  • Day 25 – The Blair Witch Project
  • Day 26 – The Shining
  • Day 27 – Trick r Treat
  • Day 28 – An American Werewolf in London
  • Day 29 – The Changeling

T.

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