Hill House has stood for about 90 years and appears haunted: its inhabitants have always met strange, tragic ends. Now Dr. John Markway has assembled a team of people who he thinks will prove whether or not the house is haunted.
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NYPD detectives Shepard and Powell are working on a bizarre case of a ritualistic Aztec murder. Meanwhile, something big is attacking people of New York and only greedy small time crook Jimmy Quinn knows where its lair is.
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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
Director Peter Medak said he was initially intimidated by stories of actor George C. Scott being difficult to work with. The only trouble Medak had with Scott on the set was when production managers accidentally knocked over a chess board on which Scott had been playing a game against himself for over two weeks. See more »
(at around 1h 07 mins) John and Claire are driving to Mrs. Gray's house and the driver of the car is clearly not John but a younger man with short, dark hair. See more »
I understand you lost your wife and daughter a little while ago. Maybe it shook you up. Maybe too much... *Maybe*, you need help.
I'd like you to leave now...
[making his threat a bit more clear]
We can see that you get it... do you understand what I'm saying?
[points to the door]
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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While I am not a big fan of haunted house films, the American public has always been fascinated by the notion of restless spirits at work where we sleep. I consider Mario Bava's "Shock" the high point of this subgenre, though Peter Medak's "The Changeling" comes awfully close in terms of suspense and atmosphere. George C. Scott plays John Russell, a NYC composer/pianist who loses his wife and daughter in a freak accident; decimated, he relocates to Seattle, quickly assuming a teaching position and living in a vacant mansion owned by the local historical society; not long after, Russell is awakened by an inexplicable loud banging, and uncovers a boarded up attic room that portends a revelation I won't give away. The film avoids convention very well (for example, the relationship between Russell and Realtor Trish Van Devere never turns romantic), instead opting for an old-fashioned campfire-story quality where the supernatural is left to our imaginations. While "Shock" was awash in Bava's painterly image overkill (which suited his purposes), Medak is minimalist to a fault: there are some spectacular high- and low-angle shots taken from inside and outside the mansion (like omniscient POV shots from select crevices and corridors) that turn it into a character unto itself; also note the claustrophobic emphasis placed on characters in narrow corridors and stairwells. The first hour of "The Changeling" is very effective, building slowly to two brilliant scenes: the first involves a chest-tightening séance; the second involves Russell listening to the recording of it. But, as is inevitable with film, the plot begins to unravel in its second half, as a string of dark secrets implicating a U.S. Senator (Melvyn Douglas) comes into play. The screenwriters admirably keep the developments as spare as possible, thus maximizing their intended effect--by the end, we are fully convinced that Russell, in his attempts to 'liberate' this spirit, is also trying to purge himself of the grief over his loss. "The Changeling" is a straight-faced, wonderfully subtle horror film, buoyed by fine performances--Scott especially, whose unlikely presence here lends the character and situation a pathos it might not have had otherwise. Think of it as a refreshing alternative to "The Amityville Horror" (both versions).
(By the way, "The Changeling"'s R rating is deceptive; while some scenes are intense (not explicitly violent), it would drift between a PG or PG-13 by today's standards.)
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