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188 of 192 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Did you die in this house? Why do you remain?"
Director Peter Medak's THE CHANGELING is a highly entertaining and very creepy old-fashioned ghost story. It stars award-winning actor George C. Scott as John Russell, a musical composer who still grieves over the tragic deaths of his wife and young daughter (the film opens with the accident in which they are killed). In an attempt to put the loss behind him and move on...
Published on January 12, 2004 by Michael R Gates

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good Old-School Psychological Horror Flick
If you're expecting a shocking gross-out fest, you might as well stop reading now. However, if you're interested in a film along the lines of "The Uninvited", this is a good bet. George C. Scott is a widower who moves into an apparently haunted house, and becomes the instrument of a Ghost's revenge. The film is very slowly and deliberately paced, and the revelations come...
Published on April 27, 2003 by Daniel V. Reilly


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188 of 192 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Did you die in this house? Why do you remain?", January 12, 2004
By 
Michael R Gates (Nampa, ID United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Changeling (DVD)
Director Peter Medak's THE CHANGELING is a highly entertaining and very creepy old-fashioned ghost story. It stars award-winning actor George C. Scott as John Russell, a musical composer who still grieves over the tragic deaths of his wife and young daughter (the film opens with the accident in which they are killed). In an attempt to put the loss behind him and move on with his life, Russell accepts a teaching position and moves to another town, where he also rents a rather dilapidated old mansion. It doesn't take long for him to realize that his new domicile is haunted, and when he learns that the ghost is that of a young boy who was stealthily murdered in the early 1900s, he throws himself wholeheartedly into the task of solving the mysterious crime. He is assisted in the endeavor by the real-estate agent who arranged his rental contract, played by Scott's wife Trish Van Devere.
This film follows the old-school, Hitchcockian method of sucking the unwitting audience into the fantasy and thereby creating a genuine visceral horror. Unlike a lot of more contemporary genre fare, THE CHANGELING subtly builds tension by first concentrating on character development. Then, once the audience has some empathy for the protagonists, the details of the haunting and the related crime slowly unfold as the film's atmosphere becomes more & more eerie and more & more unsettling. So when the film's scariest events finally take place, the audience has been psychologically primed for being genuinely spooked.
The acting in this film is superb. In contrast to the arrogant, flamboyantly self-assured characters that Scott is generally famous for playing, his John Russell is a sensitive and vulnerable man who seems truly concerned with the plight of others, and Scott delivers an exceptional performance that is just this side of stupendous. It's a shame that he wasn't offered more roles such as this. The always beautiful Trish Van Devere does a great turn as the real-estate agent who assists Russell, and she does an especially good job and exuding terror when she is confronted vis-à-vis by things that go bump in the night. Also turning in a wonderful performance is the highly revered Melvyn Douglas, here portraying a rather smarmy politician in one of his last roles. Genre fans will recognize Mr. Douglas from an early performance as Roger Penderel in another spook-house film, James Whale's classic THE OLD DARK HOUSE.
Like some of its notable predecessors, this old-fashioned ghost story creates lots of gooseflesh and increases the heart rate without resorting to lots of gratuitous gore or stomach-churning make-up effects. So keep in mind, then, that fans who prefer only blood-and-guts horror may find THE CHANGELING a bit slow going. However, anyone who enjoys great acting, great story-telling, and deep-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach psychological scares will really enjoy watching this oft-overlooked gem.
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96 of 103 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Changeling, October 29, 2000
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This review is from: The Changeling (DVD)
Although I have heard much praise for this movie over the years, I had not seen it until a few weeks ago. And I can see where all the positivity came from. The movie was dead on with the idea that you don't have to do anything visually appealing to score a hit with your audience. Although it had its visual moments (such as it's haunting finale), a lot of it was due to eerie noises and subtle reactions (with no annoying overacting) from star George C. Scott. One way I identify a good horror movie is if the movie (or part of the movie) sticks with me for a while. This movie did that with the brief shot of the wheelchair sitting at the top of the stairs, looking down at the 2 of them. It's very creepy, and it stays with you, along with a few other moments in the film. The dvd transfer is great (as i had rented a vhs version as well and compared the two), it has wonderfully dark scenery and great sound. Unfortunately the disc has only bios, but to have the movie in such great quality, it's no big deal. More people should see this movie, it's not getting the right amount of attention. Rest assured, you will definately get your money's worth with this one. And stay out of the attic.
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be Prepared To Lose A Little Sleep If You Dare Watch This..., September 1, 2002
By 
Wes Cotton (Southern Pines, NC United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Changeling (DVD)
Ok...honestly. I've seen a lot of movies...especially horror movies, and I've never had one affect me like this one did. On the recommendation of my father, I watched it for the first time about 4 years ago...at night, of course (like a dummy).
George C. Scott is amazing in this film...and the tragedy that befalls him in the film's opening sequence is sure to suck you right in. Following this, Scott is forced to make a single life for himself and he moves into an extremely large and historic house to compose and teach music. The house is a character in itself...perhaps one of the creepiest I have ever seen (the night scene of Scott walking across the front yard still chills me...very, very spooky). As another reviewer mentioned, the house is so vast that it is unimaginable to think of ONE person occupying it. Well, in this case, it's actually one person...and one supernatural murdered boy who has one heck of a story to tell. I don't want to tell that story...but it will be revealed to you sure enough if you can make it through the unrelenting and horrific duration of this film.
But not to give away too much...Certain scenes in the film chilled me to the very bone (the seance scene, the quest for the leaky faucet sound, and many more.) Just when I thought I had survived it...the scenes kept coming...scaring the breath out of me. In a nutshell...if you are bothered by ghosts, darkness, ghostly voices, or anything paranormal...you WILL without a doubt be scared stiff by this one. I had trouble sleeping for at least 3 or 4 nights...and I was about 22 at the time.
The film makes excellent use of camera angles and movement, darkness, and sound effects...in essence scaring you with what you can't see but know is there. The music is also extremely unsettling at times. But enough said...the only true way to understand the horror of this film is to experience it. BUT BEWARE...YOU WERE WARNED.
I am almost 28 now, and still would not sit alone in my living room at night and watch this...unless I felt like forcing a little case of insomnia. EXCELLENT FILM THOUGH...A MUST SEE!
IF YOU CAN TAKE IT.
THANKS.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the all time scariest movies, November 10, 2001
This review is from: The Changeling [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This has gotta be one of the scariest movies ever made. It is totally terrifying. It is just plain scary, creepy, horrifying, shocking,frightening and eerie.
It starts out with the main character(played by George C. Scott), his wife and daughter pushing their broken down car down the street. Then his wife and daughter get hit by a truck. About 5 months later, the main character rents a house. But he soon finds out the the huge house is not unoccupied and that its ghostly inhabitant is not at rest.
But this is more than just another haunted house film. It is a truly frightening ghost story. There are some scenes that are just totally horrifying. The scene with the sceance recording and the voices is pretty creepy. And there is one scene I just can't watch(I'm serious, I was afraid to see it). I won't tell you which scene. I'll just say that it has to do with the girl and the well (see this movie and you'll see). There is one scene which, in my opinion, has one of the best portrayal of fear in horror films. This is a truly terrifying film. If you like horror movies, then see The Changeling. Trust me, it's scary. Very Scary. If you can't take horror, then I wouldn't recommend you see this(you might just faint).
I've seen this movie twice. Both times scared me(though it's never as good the second time). I know I've said this about other things, but this time I really really really really mean it...I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Haunted House/ Ghost Story, September 5, 2006
This review is from: The Changeling (DVD)
First of all, I have lost count of the ammount of times I have seen this movie but every time I watch it I get goose bumps. This is how affective the movie is.

George C. Scott (of "Patton" fame) plays a composer who rents a house to live in while he teaches and tries to cope with tragedy. Soon the house begins to exhibit strange occurances and Mr. Scott begins to investige the house's history. This is all you need to know about the plot because anything else would ruin the film.

This movie is all about atmosphere. There are no scenes of gore and slaughter like so many big budget horror films nowadays. This film does not need to gross the viewer out. The Changeling simply tells a great story as the viewer learns about the house and witnesses the haunting at the same time as the characters. You are pulled into this film because it entertains and frightens with ease. There is nothing "in your face" about the scares.

This film is for fans of the 1960's film "The Haunting" or anyone who just enjoys a good ghost story. Don't even bother to rent it because it cheap enough to buy and I guarantee you'll watch it more than once. I have recommended it to many people and I never heard a negative comment. For the full effect, wait until night to watch it and then watch it alone. See how many times you glance over your shoulder.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Boy, the Wheelchair, and That Haunted House., June 1, 2003
By 
This review is from: The Changeling (DVD)
There's something about low-budget horror movies that have a greater impact than their Hollywood counterparts. I thought I'd seen every good horror movie on the market until a co-worker had me borrow this DVD. 1980's "The Changeling" is a quintessential low-budget vintage horror movie, done in that classic late-1970's style. George C. Scott is a widower who is walking wounded following the freakish death of his wife and child (without giving away details, the opening scene is a hair-raiser and sets the tone for the rest of the movie). He moves into a giant, towering mansion to work on his music and recover from his tragic loss. But a few moments later, weird things happen inside the house. Piano keys play by themselves. Voices start speaking. And loud, banging noises happen out of nowhere. Come to find out, the house is haunted by a child. The movie then pursues a murder mystery in which we discover the boy's identity and the history of the house. Unlike most thrillers, "The Changeling" doesn't have much gore, but it has enough intense and spooky moments to make this film earn an R rating. Instead of aiming for shock, this movie effectively works on the viewer's emotions and has a reasonably interesting plot. I wouldn't call it the scariest film ever made, but if you're into horror movies of the haunted house variety, then "The Changeling" should rank high on your list of DVDs to get.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate in ghost stories finally gets a DVD release!, September 20, 2000
By 
This review is from: The Changeling (DVD)
Well it was a long time coming, but Peter Medak's 'The Changeling' comes to DVD at last. This film is one of the few that manages to frighten and unnerve, without the obligatory gorefest seen in modern horror flicks.
George C. Scott turns in a top-notch performance as John Russell, a composer who moves from New York to an old house in Washington state, after his family are wiped out in a road accident. Over time, he realises that something from the past is trying to communicate with him, reaching out from beyond the grave.
I won't give any more plot details away, but the story is a clever interweave of mystery and the supernatural, complete with seances, nocturnal grave diggings and ghostly revenge!
The DVD transfer is pretty good, a little grainy in places, although - for the first time - a Dolby Surround soundtrack more than compensates. Extras are sparse - chapter selection and cast/crew bios - but this is a minor gripe.
If you're a fan of this genre, 'The Changeling' is one of those flicks that your collection just shouldn't be without!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply frightening, August 31, 2004
This review is from: The Changeling (DVD)
If you simply cannot avoid watching scary movies about ghosts, you are probably already intimately familiar with "The Changeling." Pulling off a film that actually delivers chills is not an easy task. It's my opinion that most pictures passing for horror these days never achieve any sort of scary atmosphere, instead relying on over the top gore to draw in the crowds. And to some extent, that's acceptable. I love to watch gory films. But if you seek movies that can actually make you jump, you've got a much smaller body of work to choose from. I'm not talking about films that rely on cheap scare tactics, like someone charging out of the shadows or the old "hand on the shoulder" gag. I'm talking about slow, subtle scares that build to a nail biting intensity over a period of time. "The Changeling" fits this bill quite nicely, although the film does have a few problems that occasionally get in the way of the shocks. If you enjoy this movie, you may want to check out "The Woman in Black," "The House on Haunted Hill," and "Ghost Story" for further "spirits gone wild" thrills and chills.

John Russell (George C. Scott) watched helplessly as his pretty wife and young daughter perished in a horrible automobile accident. Overcome with crushing grief, Russell gives up his career as a composer in New York to head across the country to the state of Washington. His talents as a musician allow him to obtain a post at a local university, but he needs to find some new digs so he can maintain his privacy. A suggestion from friends leads him to the local historical society where Claire Norman (Trish Van Devere) recommends he rent out Chessman House, a local landmark currently unoccupied. Why the historical society is in the real estate business is a question without an answer, but Russell willing agrees to move into the decrepit but beautiful house anyway. To say something is wrong with this old building ranks as one of the great understatements in cinematic history. A ghost haunts Chessman House; a very angry spirit whose sole purpose in life (no pun intended--in fact, a double pun!) is convincing Russell to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding its demise. At first, Russell isn't convinced that anything is wrong with the house. Sure, he hears some weird booming noises in the middle of the night, and his piano occasionally bangs out an odd note or two when no one is around, but these oddities do convince the musician to launch an investigation into the house's history.

Things really start to get weird once we learn about the background of Chessman House. According to local rumors and historical documents, a family living in the house back in the early twentieth century lost a daughter in a coal truck accident. Subsequent horrors convince our protagonist that the spirit inhabiting the building has nothing to do with this incident. For example, Russell witnesses the apparition of a young boy in a bathtub upstairs, and the voices he starts hearing don't sound like that of a young girl. In the film's best scene, a plastic ball bounces down the house's stairs and comes to rest right in front of Russell. The composer takes the toy and throws it in a nearby creek only to come home to discover the ball bouncing down the stairs again! Chilly! The truth becomes clearer in another ultra eerie scene when a psychic visits the house and channels a message from Joseph, a boy who lived in the house before the family with the girl ever arrived. It is the revenant of this young child communicating with John Russell, and the composer henceforth methodically unearths the mystery behind the ghost in Chessman House. No spoilers here, but ultimately a powerful senator, an abandoned well, and a small room in the attic provide the necessary clues in solving the mystery.

I liked "The Changeling" immensely. Some of the creepiest stuff ever caught on camera unfolds in this movie. Even better is how the filmmakers tie in the haunting with an engaging, multileveled mystery story replete with red herrings, murder, greed, and stolen identities. I had a discussion with a person I know who also saw "The Changeling," and they complained about George C. Scott being miscast in the role of John Russell. I didn't see that at all; I thought Scott a perfect fit for the part, and the actor played the character as a rational individual determined to solve the mystery of his surroundings quite convincingly and with effective nuance. If anything, it was nice to see Scott take a subtler role. Perhaps the movie's greatest difficulty lay in the failure of the filmmakers to do a better job tying in Russell's family tragedy with the otherworldly experiences of Chessman House. Here's a guy going through a catastrophe involving the demise of his wife and daughter, and yet he's trying to deal with the issues surrounding another fatality. That's probably why he does follow through with his investigation, namely as a way of working through his own personal tragedy, but the movie doesn't convey that as well as it should.

Forget about any extras on the disc. If memory serves me correctly, the only thing included on the DVD other than the film was a trailer. That's disappointing considering the level of creepiness "The Changeling" achieves. At the very least a commentary track would have been nice, but such is not to be. Still, the movie works very well on its own without any external elaboration from the people behind the scenes. If you want something more cerebral, and scarier than the average horror flick, you'll want to see "The Changeling."
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very disturbing movie, March 2, 2000
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This review is from: The Changeling [VHS] (VHS Tape)
If you want to be genuinely scared, this is the movie for you. It's not like modern horror movies which rely too much on cheesy special effects and gratuitous violence. The Changeling relies on a well-written plot and a dark ambiance (I sometimes wonder if this movie wasn't lit with bedroom lamps instead of studio lights). It was made on a shoestring budget of $6 million, but with its creepy atmosphere and murder mystery-style story, not to mention a sterling cast (George C. Scott and Melvyn Douglas) it overcomes any obstacles and should be remembered alongside other creepy movies such as The Haunting.
I saw this movie the first time when I was about 7 and had problems being alone in the dark for quite a long time after. I slept with a nightlight until I was almost 12 just because of this movie. I think I also suffered a bout of mild depression because of the somber nature of the movie. I sometimes still dream I'm in that haunted house and I know the ghost of that murdered child is in it with me. No other movie has ever affected me this way. I would definetely recommend against letting young children view this movie.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Haunted and Haunting movies ever..., August 22, 2002
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Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Changeling [VHS] (VHS Tape)
George C Scott suffers the tragic loss of his wife and young daughter and moves to Seattle to teach music and compose. He rents an enormous old house, (the house is so vast, it is hard to imagine one person living in it, or spending one night in it alone)which turns out to come with a ghostly presence. The overall mood and tone of the movie is very dark and sad, I was very moved when the real story behind the haunting came out. There is nothing, in my opinion, more horrific or incomprehensible than murdering a child, for any reason, but this was beyond my worst imaginings. There are many unforgettable images from the movie, most notably, the wheelchair, the ball and the child's voice on the tape recorder, but what I had a hard time getting out of my mind was the music box theme. This is apparently based on a true story, and one can only hope that the real child did not suffer the same fate in the afterworld that this poor little boy did. At times my sorrow and my fear were at odds with each other; suffice to say this is one of the finer, more eloquent, and more haunting of the genre that I have ever seen...
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The Changeling
The Changeling by George C. Scott (DVD - 2000)
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