The Changeling, 1980 haunted house classic with George C. Scott

The Changeling is one of a handful of supernatural horror movies I will not watch alone at night; it’s too creepy! :O

Country: Canada/U.S.
Directed by: Peter Medak, IMDb
Horror themes: Ghost, revenge, haunted house, death of spouse, death of child, exhumation, wheelchair, objects moving by themselves, murder, politics, hidden room, fatal accident, solving murder
Verdict: 85/100… One of the best classic ghost stories on film – plus it contains the top-notch acting chops of George C. Scott; a very creepy movie – you may forever be creeped out at the mere sight of a wheelchair

Movie trailer: The Changeling, 1980 (YouTube)

Much more coming soon…

Plot summary: The Changeling, 1980

cover from horror movie The Changeling, 1980
It was the perfect family vacation for John Russell and his family, or so it seemed until a freak automobile accident claimed the lives of his wife and daughter. After the death of his beloved girls – hit by a truck in a snowing road upstate New York – the composer and music professor John Russell moves to Seattle to teach music in the local university. Consumed by grief, John – at the request of friends – leases a huge mansion in Chessman Park that belongs to the Historical Society and has been empty for twelve years. 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. John hears some weird noises always at 6:00 AM and later he experiences the contact of the ghost of a child that lived many decades ago in the house, which he now shares with the spirit of the murdered child who has homed in on John’s despair. The spirit uses John to uncover decades of silence and deceit. With the help of Claire Norman, the one who aided John in procuring the house, John researches the mansion’s history, revealing a despicable secret. They race to find answers and soon learn that a devious and very powerful man guards them with his very life.

Resources: The Changeling, 1980

Fertile Ground, 2011 After Dark supernatural horror film

Country: U.S.
Directed by: Adam Gierasch
Horror themes: Old house, personality change, pregnancy, dressmaker’s dummy, inanimate objects moving, ghosts, deathbed photography, haunted house, possession
Verdict: 65/100… I liked it better than most critics; it contained some of the supernatural horror themes that frighten me most.

Fertile Ground, (2011) – Official movie trailer (YouTube video)

Brief plot summary of Fertile Ground: Emily (Leisha Hailey) and Nate Weaver (Gale Harold) leave the city for the rural comfort of Nate’s ancestral home in the country. Once there, Emily is plagued by horrifying visions and haunted by the ghosts inhabiting their isolated new home.

Resources: Fertile Ground, 2011 supernatural horror movie

The Torment, 2010 U.K. psychological horror film

Country: U.K.
Also known as: The Possession of David O’Reilly
Directed by: Andrew Cull (writer), Steve Isles
Horror themes: Paranoia, nightmares, hallucination, murder, intruders, supernatural creatures, possession

Based on "actual events," The Possession of David O-Reilly is a terrifying supernatural shockumentary about a demonic presence in a young couple’s London home.

Movie trailer: The Possession of David O’Reilly – YouTube

More info coming soon…

Resources: The Torment, a.k.a. The Possession of David O’Reilly

Reviews of The Possession of David O’Reilly, a.k.a. The Torment (2010)

Originally written Monday, June 13, 2011

The Mephisto Waltz: A classic 70s horror film

the mephisto waltz 1971 horror filmThe Mephisto Waltz, 1971
Country: U.S.
Horror themes: making deals with the devil, murder
Director: Paul Wendkos
Verdict: 9/10… A great 70s horror movie

The Mephisto Waltz, a 1971 American occult horror film, was directed by Paul Wendkos and starred Alan Alda (immediately preceding his 11-year M*A*S*H gig) and the incredible Jacqueline Bisset as the movie’s main couple, Myles and Paula Clarkson. The title Mephisto Waltz is taken from the piano work by Franz Liszt (Mephisto Waltzes).

Jacqueline Bisset [Jacqueline Bisset titles on Amazon] is surely one of the most beautiful women to grace the seventies screen – I can’t help but to enjoy each and every minute Jacqueline Bisset photoof her appearance in the classic Mephisto Waltz, a great horror movie in the Sold My Soul to the Devil vein. In fact – and I will research to see if it’s true – Jacqueline Bisset looks like she could easily be the mother of Austin Powers knockout Elizabeth Hurley. (Is she? Nope; according to Wikipedia, Liz is the daughter of Angela and Roy Hurley. Oh, well.)

Another star of The Mephisto Waltz is the music itself, particularly if you like classical piano a la Liszt and Mozart. The top-notch classical piano played throughout The Mephisto Waltz certainly adds a nice, rich dimension to the film. There are very few horror movies which have this kind of focus on music; in fact, I can think of no others. A quick search for music-themed horror movies brought up info on horror soundscapes and horror movie theme music only, not any other musically themed horror films.

the mephisto waltz 1971 horror filmIf you like beautiful women and beautiful music – and the witty banter of Alan Alda to boot – then this might the perfect movie for you.

The movie centers around Myles Clarkson, frustrated pianist and music journalist, and his ravishing wife Paula, and their creepily growing involvement with another couple, Duncan Ely (one of the greatest piano virtuosos) and his attractive daughter Roxanne. Paula Clarkson in particular is not down with the weird level of attention they are suddenly receiving from this couple, but Myles is honored to be considered a new friend by the well-known Duncan. Unbeknownst to Myles and Paula, Duncan and Roxanne are Satanists, and with Duncan’s impending death from leukemia, the father and daughter perform a ritual which transfers Duncan’s soul into Myles Clarkson’s body. (And while it may seem like I just gave the movie away, there is much more to it.)

I strongly recommend The Mephisto Waltz to all fans of 1970s horror; I give this classic horror film 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Resources: The Mephisto Waltz

the mephisto waltz 1971 horror film

Reviews of The Mephisto Waltz

Magic, 1978 psychological horror film

poster from Magic, a psychological horror film from 1978 starring Anthony HopkinsCountry:
Directed by: Richard Attenborough
Writer: William Goldman
Horror themes: Insanity/madness, failure, fear, ventriloquism dummy, murder
Verdict: 7/10… As a TV ad way back when, the trailer scared me and my young friends to death. Ventriloquism dummies have creeped me out ever since Magic and a certain Twilight Zone episode.
Tagline: Keep telling yourself it’s only a movie.
Reception: Magic 1978 received positive reviews from critics: It received a certified fresh 83% on Rotten Tomatoes; the New York Times wrote, “Magic is neither eerie nor effective. It is, however, very heavy of hand.” Gene Siskel (of Siskel & Ebert) gave the film a very positive review, ranking it #9 on his list of the 10 best films of 1978.

Trailer #2: Magic, 1978 – A terrifying love story (YouTube)

Plot summary: Magic, 1978 psychological horror film

Charles “Corky” Withers (Anthony Hopkins) is a spectacular failure in his first attempt at professional magic, gradually finding himself increasingly at the mercy of Fats (voice of Anthony Hopkins), the ventriloquism dummy. Corky’s agent, Ben Greene (Burgess Meredith), is on the verge of signing Corky for his own television show, but he seeks refuge from his new found fame, dodging the possibility he’ll have to take any kind of psychological test. Corky heads for the isolated mountain retreat in the Catskills run by his high school love, Peggy Ann Snow (Ann Margret), in hopes of starting a new life; but finds that Fats, who has developed a mind of his own and wants to control his master, has no intentions of letting him off so easy.

Resources: Magic, 1978 psychological horror film