Buried Treasure: The Changeling is a great ghostly tale


The horror movie The Changeling was released in 1980, but have you seen it? Here is why it’s a great ghost story and why you should watch it.

My “Buried Treasure” column recommends lesser-known horror movies that I consider to be among my favorites. Usually, they are movies that my fellow horror fanatics are not even familiar with. My last recommendation was The Final Girls, and today’s sparkling jewel is The Changeling, which is a PERFECT movie for Halloween.

The Changeling (not to be confused with CHANGELING, starring Angelina Jolie) is a long-time favorite of mine, from the first time I saw it in theaters upon its release in 1980. And, I am not alone here; Martin Scorsese, Stephen King, and Guillermo del Toro are all huge fans as well. Scorsese placed The Changeling on his list of the scariest horror films of all time. Yet, it remains largely unknown, even by serious horror movie fans.

After John’s wife and child are killed in an accident, the composer moves to Seattle to grieve and recover emotionally. He rents a large, VERY creepy looking mansion from Claire Norman, who tells him it has stood vacant for the past 12 years. Almost immediately after moving in, he starts experiencing strange phenomena, including loud banging noises. One night he awakens to find the water running in the bathtub and sees a small boy under the water, appearing to be drowned.

Shortly afterword, he discovers a hidden room (something I have always wanted to find), which holds the world’s scariest wheelchair. Claire helps him conduct an investigation, and they begin to whittle away at the mystery. After a séance (which is an absolutely terrifying scene in the movie), the ghost is discovered to be a crippled six year old boy, and to say more about this child would give away too much.

Image courtesy of Chessman Park Productions

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This movie has absolutely everything you could possibly want in a haunted house story; the mysterious hidden room, the séance, a discarded child’s rubber ball showing back up in the house and bouncing down the stairs, ghosts, and most of all, a huge, imposing, very spooky house. The Changeling stars George C. Scott as John, and his wife Trish Van Devere as Claire.

A limited edition Blu-ray was released in August of this year, but you can also stream The Changeling on Amazon.

TRIVIA:  The screenplay for The Changeling was inspired by events that took place at the Henry Treat Rogers mansion in Colorado while playwright (and co-writer of The Changeling) Russell Hunter was living there in the 1960’s. The scene with the ball bouncing down the stairs was listed as #54 on Bravo’s “100 Scariest Movie Moments.” And, The Changeling served as inspiration for the much better-known The Others.

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Have you seen The Changeling? Do you agree that it’s buried treasure?  Let me us know in the comment section below.