Scariest Scary Movie #31 – The Changeling

Throughout October, we are counting down the 31 Scariest Movies ever made! Each day, we will reveal a new frightening film until we reach the Scariest Scary Movie on Halloween. Many of the titles referenced will be on TV this month (check out the online movie database at to find out if and when), others you will have to seek out on your own. Where available, we’ve included video clips of the titles to give you a terrifying taste of what to expect from each. (Note: Videos may contain disturbing images and language.)

Let the countdown begin!

The Changeling (1980, George C. Scott, Trish Van Dever, Melvyn Douglas)

There’s nothing like a good ghost story and The Changeling is truly spooky.

Quick Plot: After losing his wife and daughter in a freak car accident, composer John Russell (George C. Scott) moves across the country into a secluded mansion. He soon realizes he is not alone; the ghost of a murdered child haunts the house. Russell slowly begins to uncover the house’s horrifying secrets, and discovers that the mystery is linked to a powerful congressman.

Scariest Scene: The ball bouncing down the stairs.

Firsthand Fright: “I was 10 years old when this film came out. This was the time when they wouldn’t show commercials for R-rated horror films until after 10pm, so I always sort of dreaded being up at that time because I knew I may see a scary commercial. Well, one late night a commercial for The Changeling came on (see the clip). Once I saw that empty wheelchair suddenly and violently turn and start chasing the woman, that ended my ability to sleep for several nights. And when I saw the film as a whole years later, it proved to be every bit as scary as that commercial I remembered.” — Jeff, editorial department

Final Say: This understated horror gem does more to frighten with subtlety and tension, not to mention one distinctly disembodied voice, than most special effects teams can do with unlimited gore and violence. You will be sleeping with the lights on!