After the death of his wife and daughter in a car crash, a music professor staying at an old mansion is dragged into a decades-old mystery by an inexplicable presence in the mansion's attic.

Director:

Peter Medak

Writers:

Russell Hunter (story by), William Gray (screenplay by) | 1 more credit »
11 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
George C. Scott ... John Russell
Trish Van Devere ... Claire Norman
Melvyn Douglas ... Senator Carmichael
Jean Marsh ... Joanna Russell
John Colicos ... Captain DeWitt
Barry Morse ... Parapsychologist
Madeleine Sherwood ... Mrs. Norman (as Madeleine Thornton-Sherwood)
Helen Burns ... Leah Harmon
Frances Hyland ... Mrs. Grey
Ruth Springford ... Minnie Huxley
Eric Christmas ... Albert Harmon
Roberta Maxwell ... Eva Lingstrom
Bernard Behrens ... Robert Lingstrom
James B. Douglas James B. Douglas ... Eugene Carmichael
J. Kenneth Campbell ... Security Guard
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Storyline

It was the perfect family vacation for composer John Russell and his family when a freak automobile accident claims the lives of his wife and daughter. Consumed by grief, John, at the request of friends, rents an old turn of the century house. Mammoth in size, the house seems all the room that John needs to write music and reflect. He does not realize that he is not alone in the house. He shares it with the spirit of a child who has homed in on John's despair and uses him to uncover decades of silence and deceit. With the help of Claire Norman, the one who aided John in procuring the house, they race to find the answers and soon learn that a devious and very powerful man guards them. Written by Vampire-Sharpshooter

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

"How did you die, Joseph...? Did you die in this house...? Why do you remain...?" See more »

Genres:

Horror | Mystery

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Actors Trish Van Devere and George C. Scott were married. Publicity for this picture stated they had made seven films together in their then eight years' marriage, this movie being their eighth. See more »

Goofs

(at around 35 mins) When John Russell first examines the notebook in the attic room, the sticker on the cover says: "C.S.B., January 1909". When he brings Claire Norman to the attic room (at around 38 mins), she picks up the notebook and reads "C.S.B., January FOURTH 1909" off the cover. See more »

Quotes

De Witt: I understand you lost your wife and daughter a little while ago. Maybe it shook you up. Maybe too much... *Maybe*, you need help.
John Russell: I'd like you to leave now...
De Witt: [making his threat a bit more clear] We can see that you get it... do you understand what I'm saying?
John Russell: [points to the door] Out! Now!
De Witt: [pressing] Listen to me, Russell! You've got something of the Senator's... he wants it back. It's a little gold medal, a family heirloom, he lost it. He thinks *you've* got it.
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Alternate Versions

The Japanese theatrical version contains the alternative ending theme, titled "Pike", sung by Makigami Koichi, a pseudo-kabuki vocalist who led the rock band called "HIKASHU", replacing the original "Music Box" theme song conducted by Howard Blake. The local Japanese TV (dubbed) version also contains the similar "Pike" theme from "HIKASHU", but while the original theatrical version was in Japanese as supposed to be, the song in the TV version was remarkably sung in English. See more »


Soundtracks

Symphony #1 in C minor, Opus 68
Composed by Johannes Brahms (as Brahms)
Performed by The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Kazuyoshi Akiyama
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User Reviews

 
Goes for old style chills and thrills
8 March 2017 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

A man, recovering from the recent deaths of his wife and child in an automobile accident in New York state, moves across the country to Washington. There he tries to move on with his life as a musical composer by moving into a large Victorian style house in the country. Strange things begin to happen, however, water taps turned on, a window smashing on its own, his daughter's rubber ball inexplicably bouncing down a towering staircase and, above all, thunderous bangs periodically echoing throughout the house for no apparent reason.

The man realizes that something is trying to communicate with him in this house, and he begins an investigation of the building's history. And there's something, something going on in that tiny dusty cob web strewn room at the very top of the house, the one with a music box and a small wheelchair.

George C. Scott is a solid presence in this film as the man bewildered by this huge old home, with Scott's wife, the elegant Trish Van Devere, cast as a member of the local historical society instrumental in having secured him this house. Melvyn Douglas appears as a U.S. senator who is somehow related to the house.

Director Peter Medak lets the suspense build slowly in this intelligent Canadian made ghost story. Rather than going for terror, this film goes for subtle chills. There's a seance scene that is genuinely eerie, as Medak's camera returns to that small room and then starts to glide down the stairs towards the seance participants trying to communicate with the spirit.

Some ghost films are all special effects and over-the-top performances of terror. Like the best of the classy, more mature films that explore the supernatural, The Changeling never goes for cheap thrills. This thriller's eeriness is analogous to a tap on the shoulder by a cold finger, only to turn around and find there is nobody there.

It may be a cliché to say it, but, in this case, it's true: if you watch this film, be sure to do so with the lights turned low.


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Details

Country:

Canada

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 March 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

House on Chessman Park See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

CAD7,600,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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