295 user 136 critic

The Changeling (1980)

R | | Horror | 28 March 1980 (USA)
A man staying at a secluded historical mansion finds himself being haunted by the presence of a spectre.


Peter Medak


Russell Hunter (story), William Gray (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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11 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »





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


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


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




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

28 March 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

House on Chessman Park See more »


Box Office


CAD 7,600,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Screenwriters [Diana Maddox] and William Gray spent around six months doing research for the picture which included copious newspaper articles on parapsychological encounters, over seven hundred books and almost two thousand case histories. See more »


The position of John's hands in the scene where he's talking to the Lingstroms is inconsistent. See more »


Claire Norman: [On the phone with John] I was driving by and I recognized the car. I don't know how it happened... I don't know how it could have happened there were no other cars, there's nothing. And it's upside down in the middle of the road! It's that man who was just at your house! It's Dewitt! He's dead!
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Referenced in We Are Still Here (2015) See more »


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

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User Reviews

Above average chiller in which a music professor moves to Seattle mansion where takes place weird deeds
3 February 2013 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

Effective horror movie about a strange house located in Seattle that causes creepy goings-on in a new tenant . The film contains restless terror , thrills , chills and usual poltergeists phenomenon . This is the classic version about the infamous house with lots of screams and rare deeds in which a composer falls into supernatural terror . After the death of his beloved wife (Jean Marsh) and daughter, a man named John Russell (George C Scott) hires an impressive house to a landlady named Claire Norman (Trish Van Devere , in real life married George C. Scott) . John rents the old turn of the century house and staying at the secluded historical mansion . Russell finds his life being haunted by the presence of a spectre and suffers experience beyond total fear . John and a Police Inspector (John Colicos) investigate mysterious circumstances surrounding a strange death . .

Suspense , mystery , shocks and grisly horror is this splendid terror film about a haunted mansion . This is an interesting , suspenseful and horrifying story , based on a story by Russell Hunter and screenplay by William Gray and Maddox . The movie is partially based on actual events which supposedly took place at a house in Denver, Colorado, in the 1960s . The Chessman Park neighborhood in the movie is a reference to Cheesman Park in Denver, where the original haunting transpired . The film contains restless terror , usual poltergeists phenomenon caused by a ghost and the usual ghastly shenanigans result to be strange sounds , doors suddenly slam , running wheelchairs manifest as attackers , among others . The movie begins slowly and grows more and more until the twisted , creepy and eerie finale . Good picture , thanks to magnificent acting , right pacing , well mounted edition and skillful special effects . Excellent support cast formed by notorious secondaries such as Melvyn Douglas as Senator Joe Carmichael , Jean Marsh as Joanna Russell , John Colicos as Captain DeWitt , Roberta Maxwell as Eva , Barry Morse as Dr. Pemberton and Eric Christmas as Albert Hammond . It is produced with acceptable budget by Mario Kassar and Andrew J Vajna , Carolco , and well recreated with high grade special effects that are frightening and horrifying to spectator . It's actually a decent terror movie that achieved enough success at the box office and it will appeal to ghostly and eerie events fonds. The picture packs a colorful as well as dark cinematography by John Coquillon and eerie musical score by Rick Wilkins . The original ¨Exorcist¨ film (by William Friedkin) spawned a wave of demonic possession movies that continues unabated today as this ¨Changeling¨ (by Peter Medak), ¨Amytiville ¨(by Stuart Rosemberg) are two further examples of this sub-genre and following a great number of clumsy, stupid sequels .

The motion picture won best picture in the Canadian Film Awards and was well directed by Peter Medak , but before he was given the job, two British directors were considered; Tony Richardson declined due to creative differences . The picture has had a great influence of wide range , for example , Spanish filmmaker Alejandro Amenábar has claimed in several interviews that this is one of his all-time favorite Horror movies, up to the point of inspiring several scenes of ¨Tesis¨ and ¨The others¨ .

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