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Great Scares, Part III: The Changeling

It’s my favorite time of year once again, and I thought I’d celebrate by sharing some of my favorite scary movies.  These are the ones that got under my skin and haunted my dreams.  You’ll recognize some of them; some of them might be more obscure.  But if you’re looking to be genuinely creeped out this Halloween, permit me to suggest the following:

Our next entry comes from Canada:  1980′s The Changeling, starring George C. Scott as a grieving composer who moves into a big old house only to discover that he’s not alone in it.  The film is both ghost story and murder mystery, and features plenty of haunting moments.

If you still think horror movies require a lot of gore and ghastly special effects, The Changeling is your homework assignment.  You’ll see just how creepy simplicity can be.  To wit:  a child’s ball bouncing down a flight of stairs.  A relentless pounding that resounds throughout the house.  A cobweb-covered wheelchair that moves by itself.

Writer Russell Hunter allegedly based the story on true events.  For myself, I couldn’t care less; it’s a distraction from a script (by William Gray and Diana Maddox) that at first frightens and then fascinates, as Scott delves into a decades-old mystery involving a crippled boy and a powerful senator.  Tack onto this some quality performances from Trish Van Devere, Melvyn Douglas, and the ever-reliable Scott, and you have a haunted house story that makes The Amityville Horror (another “true story”) look like the hackwork it really is.

Oh, and did I mention the music box?  And the bathtub?  And the well?  And the necklace?

Trust me on this:  leave Amityville back in Long Island, and check out The Changeling instead.

Pleasant dreams . . .




I first saw this movie last year, and enjoyed it muchly.
Amazing little film. And did you know that Martin Scorsese picked it as one of thescariest horror films of all time? 'Tis true: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2009/10/28/martin-scorseses-top-11-horror-films-of-all-time.html