FRIDAY NIGHT FRIGHTS: The Changeling (director Peter Medak in person!)

Schedule permitting, director Peter Medak in person! Now this is how you do a ghost story. At a time when movie theaters were deluged with blood-and-thunder FX spectacles, this satisfying thriller starring the typically excellent George C. Scott quietly slipped in and scared the daylights out of unsuspecting audiences. The subject matter harks back to the great turn-of-the-century English ghost stories which used suggestion and elegant plotting to chill the reader, and thanks to its earnest performances and numerous hair-raising sequences, the film has barely dated one bit since its release in 1980. Scott stars as a classical composer new to town, who rents a sprawling mansion from the local historical society in which to work on his latest opus. Still recovering from the shocking death of his wife and child, Scott doesn’t quite know how to take it when loud pounding noises emanate from within the walls every night, windows mysteriously shatter, and the discovery of a hidden room unearths a music box with a chilling connection to John’s latest piece. A high point in the directorial career of Peter Medak (The Ruling Class), who here displays style to burn: the simple image of a cobweb-covered child’s wheelchair becomes an unforgettably sinister apparition, and of course there’s “the ball”…but viewers will be better off discovering that one for themselves…
Dir. Peter Medak, 1980, 35mm, 107 min.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “The Changeling”!