Friday, January 30, 2009

The Changeling

I understand there's a new movie (2008) by the same title, but that's not the movie I'm talking about. This film debuted in 1980, and is quite possibly my favorite horror movie of all time. I dropped this into my Netflix Queue purely on nostalgia's sake. When I was attending undergrad at McMurry University I attended a midnight Halloween showing of this film at the Paramount Theater in downtown Abilene. The Paramount is an old theater that's been restored and is used for all kinds of performances--from theatre to indie films. Needless to say, at midnight on Halloween, it can be a creepy place. It was a BLAST watching this movie there.

The film stars George C. Scott, (who's been dead for about 10 years now,) who plays a well known classical composer who's wife and daughter are killed in a tragic car accident right in front of him. To deal with the tragedy he moves to Seattle to teach at his old alma-mater university. The local historical society provides Scott with a magnificent old mansion to rent. What isn't immediately clear is that the house has a past. And it's tied to the present.

Trish Van Devere plays the historical society agent that lets Scott the house and in the process befriends him. When strange unexplainable things begin to happen, Scott begins to investigate and what he learns is troubling. What's not clear is if Scott and Van Devere will escape being inextricably entangled in past and present dangers.

Without giving away anything, the scene with ball and the staircase is the single creepiest scene I've ever seen in a movie. It gave me shivers at the Paramount, and it gave me shivers this afternoon when I watched the film in the comfort of my living room.

Sure the movie is rife with early 80's special effects and poor film quality. Sexism is alive and kicking here. But this movie is greatness--think "The Shining" but with intelligence...

The movie does have some violent scenes involving children, and some rather creepy moments. Definitely not for children or the faint of heart, (including my wife--I was on my own for this one.

I give this movie a A, purely out of nostalgia. (It is a pretty good film, too.)

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