Changling (1980) - Peter Medak


Directed: Peter Medak

Produced: Joel B. Michaels and Garth H. Drabinsky

Writers: Russell Hunter, William Gray and Diana Maddox

Starring: George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere, Melvyn Douglas, John Colicos, Jean Marsh, Helen Burns, and Madeleine Sherwood.

Studio: Associated Film Distribution

Release date: March 28, 1980

Country: Canada

Budget: $600,000

Box office: $5.3 million


The Changeling is a Canadian supernatural-horror film from directed by Peter Medak. The third choice in a line of directors that had creative differences with the production. Released on March 28th, 1980, it’s an atmospheric thriller that has some creative horrific elements. Apparently based on true-to-life events, the film was written by Russell Hunter and is inspired by a terrifying event that took place in his life in Denver, Colorado.

John Russell moves to Seattle from New York, following the death of his wife and child in a freak accident. He is moving into a very large mansion that looks run-down and beat-up. Mr. Russell is a composer and he believes that a dark and quiet place would be an ideal place to work. However, John’s new abode is anything but quiet and peaceful. Something sinister lies deep within the walls of this decrepit old house. And John Russell wants to make contact with it. This is a rich story that delves deep into the supernatural, but also drama and political intrigue. A diverse and entertaining feature.

The Changeling is a slower-paced horror movie that tries to be more based in reality. There are supernatural events that take place. But the dreadful tone is the main theme. A big part of any horror movie, sure… but these slower psychological horror movies like The Exorcist, The Omen and The Changeling, have this sort of eeriness that aches in your soul. The haunting overtones seem to touch on every aspect of the film. From the creepy musical queues to the long, dramatic shots of the mansion interiors. Exquisite cinematography that was actually panned, at the time, by a young Roger Ebert. I found the wide angle shots of the darkly empty rooms chilling.

George C. Scott always delivers. He does everything with this easy-going attitude that is totally believable but also really badass. Like the world’s most interesting grandfather. I don’t know why, but his performances are always a highlight for me. This movie was no exception. George C. Scott carried this entire thing with his acting prowess, and boy did he do a great job. But it never feels like he is any real danger and that's my biggest gripe. While the setting may be terrifying, there is no question that John Russell will make it through the picture.

The Changeling is a truly great haunted house film that can be watched by the whole family. Recently Severin-Films had released a Limited Edition Blu-ray for $29.95. It looks fantastic and I would love it as a gift, but I am going to stick to hunting down a good VHS copy.