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The Changeling remake moves forward

TheChangeling.jpgI think that The Changeling with George C. Scott is perhaps the most effective horror film I've ever seen. One of the most surprising things about the film is that it manages to provide every scare and every unsettled moment with tension, suspense and without blood and gore galore.

Today word is out that Guillermo del Toro is producing the remake from a script that has been written by the excellent Paul Haggis and Dave Kajganich.

The 1979 film of The Changeling (Filmstalker review), of which I was lucky enough to see a full blown screening last year, is an incredibly spooky film which sees a man move into a mansion which is haunted by the ghost of a child. He tries to understand why the ghost remains as the mystery deepens around him.

It's a superb film, really it is, and I would recommend it, and in a way I am disappointed that the film is being remade, but at the same time I think there's a lot to be had from recreating the film in a modern style but retaining that superb suspense. Perhaps Hollywood could be reminded that there's a lot more to horror than slash and gore.

I wonder if del Toro will eventually direct? I think it might just be a great project for him, but the most exciting part of the news from Bloody Disgusting is the scripting by Haggis.

Have you seen The Changeling? Do you think it is worth a remake?





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Comments

I totally agree with you Richard. I bought this film a couple of months ago and watched it for the first time a few months back, and it has to be the only film in recent years, that really scared me. I was too scared to put the light on the eject the DVD from the player.

I'm glad that there are some really talented people behind this remake. I think it could be a winner.

The original is an unsung classic.

I also agree 100%. By far this is the spookiest film I have ever seen. Also very underated. Not enough people have seen this film and it deserves to be seen as one of the best horrors ever made.

To my mind there are 3 horror films that should never be remade - The Changeling, Halloween and The Exorcist...

Oh well, fingers crossed they never announce an Exorcist remake!

Guess what? No...I'm kidding, but I could see it happening. What did you think of the prequels?

Glad there are other Changeling fans out there - thanks to Dave M. for showing me the way.

Are there any other great, older horrors in that mould? I remember something starring Charlton Heston and his daughter walking through the inside of an Egyptian tomb...seems to stick in my mind as being rather spooky.

I saw the original Exorcist, Exoricist 2 and 3, but never watched the prequels... Were they any good?

Another older film that freaked me out was actually a U rated Disney film - "Watcher in the Woods". I can take all the gore you can throw at me, but ghost stories really get to me...

Well you can read both reviews here:

Filmstalker reviews Renny Harlin's Exorcist

Filmstalker reviews Paul Schrader's Exorcist

I would rate Schrader's much better than Harlin's, although neither live up to the original.

i think the changeling is one of the best most supernatural story i have seen , ive never come across a movie like this before i have seen lady in white and exorcist but the changeling is a movie 2 take seriously which could even be based on true event , and the fact that this film has no atmosphere just makes it more creepy to watch . i believe not to make a remake this will spoil this film and no doubt the new version will have cgi where the origional had none.

There's no way they can capture the essence of this film in modern day Hollywood. Really I don't see any Director who could come close to attempting a remake on this.

I saw this movie at the drive when I was 6 years old with my parents. It was a double feature with Ghost Story. I never forgot the Changeling it was truly spooky. I haven't watched the movie since I was a teenager but I was all creeped out again.

As with most other movies from my childhood I would rather it not be remade, but if del Toro is overseeing the project I think it could turn out alright. If he directs it then I would a little more confident that creepiness would remain.

I'am a die-hard changeling fan!I've got so many people into that movie.That,it's not even funny.
Tthere has been a couple of people that thought the original amityville was the best ghost movie until they saw the changeling.It's got all the great classic gags.Like the door opening up by itself.Or the piano key that did'nt work is played by joseph(hehe).It has everything you could ask for to be a killer classic!!
Now,a remake would be the shit!!If it is done right!!
No story changes please!The changeling has such a strong and original story line.That you can NOT fuck it up!It's really sad that not alot of modern horro fans are unaware of this beautiful movie.And it would be cool to open people up to it with a whole new look.But,it has to have the same elements as the original.Or it just won't work!So far from all the news about the remake.It has a green light in my book.But,i would love to see a horror movie actually being a nominee for an oscar!And this story could actually pull that off...But,it has to be done just right!
Horror fanatic with a capital F!
Larz

Do you think it can honestly be remade Larz?

REMAKE THE MOVIE! Not only that, keep it close to the original 1980 classic. Raise George C Scott from the dead so he can star in it again... ;)
Have the same composers create the score for the film... have the same style mansion used. Keep the motives the same... Loss of family, trying to overcome grief, finding solace in a mansion that has its own history of grief... have that history come alive from the attraction of two griefs being so near to eachother... the child's room upstairs must be included, so must the child-size wheelchair and musicbox with the uncanny resemblance to the music being composed by the newest (grief-stricken) resident of the old mansion. The original music, actors, camera angles and ghost-point-of-view shots must all be included!
Nothing scared me more than when John Russell took his daughter's ball she used to play with (that mysteriously left its cubby within an old desk and playfully rolled down the main stairs in the mansion), dropped it in a river far away to lose himself of the memories, and when he came back to the mansion, Joseph (the child ghost) wanted to keep playing and dropped the still-wet ball down the same, long flight of stairs, then stops rolling right infront of John's feet, the music reaching a crescendo... the water still dripping from the teleported ball's shining surface. He knew in an instant that he was not alone...
I've always wanted to rewrite this story myself, keeping to the original premise, using modern terms, places, political devices about today's corrupt politicians, envisioning a man who lost his family finding help through the supernatural means of a child that haunted a once well-used mansion of some high-ranking family with its buried skeleton in the closet (the heir of the family fortune was not the real heir, but a changeling, the original child having been sick and weak, but power and money can buy many things, even a new, healthy child).
If del Toro can remake this and keep me glued to my seat, fingernail biting and all, then DO IT. I have waited many years for this to happen. Clint Eastwood chose the wrong path. Everyone wants to see the ghost child as it tries to reach beyond the grave to get revenge on the ones who saw his demise for whatever evil reasons it happened (money, greed and power of course). We all want to see the wronged child get his dues... to see the Changeling imposter face the final judgement handed down by the dead child himself. I cannot wait!
-=Arramon=-

Well said Arramon, awesome comments.

Why don't you write the script? What's stopping you? I think you should have a bash because from reading that you really do have some great ideas and the grasp of the heart of the original story.

Thanx for the kind words.
If a script was honestly needed, and one was still being sought after by the Producer(s), I would type one up in a week or so. The story is already there. If only the original Screenplay from the first movie could be dug up from somewhere and updated...
I've always wanted deeper, more suspenseful scenes concerning the ghost presence when John (the composer) started to take notice of Joseph (the ghost). Possibly some foreshadowing during the accident with John's wife and child months before: the area inwhich they were killed could have been a spot the child-boy ghost visited several times with his family (with father and sister Cora) back in the early 1900's (which could have made him sick from the cold, becoming sickly and weak) and so the apparition could have been present during the Russell trajegy (a flash in the mind of a presence there, which gave John the thought that something was going to happen, but he couldn't leave the phone booth because Joseph needed his help by keeping him trapped to witness what happens, in affect, moving the pieces to the much larger play that would come to pass much later in the movie).
If John never 'felt a loss' and had this grief, he would never have left his hometown to find a retreat elsewhere from his pain, moved to the vacant mansion, composed the melody from the musicbox or come in contact with the ghost-child. Joseph saw an opportunity and took it.
Creating a web of child-like deceit may give the ghost a more menacing feel, increasing suspense during certain moments if people won't know what the ghost will do next to get attention or move the next piece to his scheme of revenge. There were motives used that give basis to this type of behavior, like when the ghost-child appeared to the little girl, who's family lived in the cottage built above the well where the murdered boy's small frame was buried. The mother would never have let John have a team saw through the floor and dig up any possible remains from whatever well was there before, but since her daughter was so scared by the 'gnome-like' child she saw, she allowed the escavation.
Joseph also made an effort to be in several places throughout the movie: the Senator's mansion, the river where John drops the ball in, the cottage where the little girl sees him, and of course the haunted mansion where he stays. Not only this, he also wanted to murder. He did murder (the detective cop). John Russell tried to make him stop after he figured that the ghost-child was looking for revenge. He even went to warn the Senator changeling, but was met with open hostility about any possible wrong doing by his father (or others who could have been involved, like the old woman from the Historical Society who was given orders to keep the haunted mansion off the market and any information about its past restricted to certain mundane bits of detail, nothing ever definitive). Its only when John and his newest and closest friend from the Historical Society start searching through old documents and archives that the truth is uncovered, hidden for so long (possibly hidden by many people from different aspects that were concerned with the Spencer/Carmichael Empire inherited by the changeling Senator).
This story can delve pretty deep into the corruption of today's society. The original movie was truelly remarkable for its time, especially since the motives and reasons for betrayal, deceit and murder made people feel a certain way for the child that was wronged.
I say take it a few steps further. Build a backstory about the ghost-child and his family, give more insight into why HT Spencer hated the ghost-child's father in the first place (maybe he wanted his daughter to marry a more respectable man that wasn't after only money and power, but couldn't do much else once she became pregnant, then died after giving birth to Cora, Joseph's brother), show deeper connections with the Senator, the police investigator and all the coverups that are in place to keep any important information about the truth of the murder from surfacing, and maybe show some psychological affects that may be occuring to John by the presence of the ghost. Does he speak within his head? Give flashes of things that have occured or yet to come? Is there more than just levitation and teleportation of objects happening? Does Joseph literally 'force' John to do his bidding? Most people run from ghosts, but John was adherently drawn to the child from the very beginning. Maybe Joseph's mother and sister had an uncanny resemblance to John Russell's wife and child... reasons reasons reasons. The ghost-child had every reason to pull all strings to obtain revenge. As a child, he never gained the reasoning of why its not right to kill someone. He only knew that since it was done to him, it can be done to others in a fashion similar to what he went through.
A scene from the movie I would totally redo would be with the police investigator (that threatens to tear the haunted mansion apart to look for the Senator's medalion that John found in the well), once he leaves the mansion and crashes his car (as what happens in the original movie), but instead of crashing in the middle of the street with noone around, the ghost-child could have the car crash through the side-barrier along a river road, and the investigator (all bloodied from the crash) becomes stuck in his seatbelt (Joseph keeping someone trapped once again) as his car sinks deeper under water...he can't escape, no matter how hard he tries, ending with the cop pounding his fists against the frame of the car door, the cabin entirely filled with water, sending reverberating echoes of that pounding through the surrounding water of the river, eerily similar to the sounds made when the ghost-child met his demise in his small bathtub by his insane father (the sound John Russell hears at 6am each morning).
No, John, it's not the water-heater on the frits. =b

Just the Facts:
Here is some of what is said within the Changeling movie that helps explain certain aspects of who, what, when, where and why.

----------
H. T. Spencer, died 1905
Daughter: Emily Spencer, married Richard Carmichael

Richard and Emily had Joseph Patrick Carmichael, born 9 Sep 1900 (from records of St. Paul's Church, enscribed on the child's baptism medalion). Emily Spencer Carmichael died shortly after giving birth. Joseph was stricken with atrophic arthritis at the age of 3.

H. T. Spencer's Will leaves nothing to Richard Carmichael and everything to his grandson, Joseph, who was 5 years old at the time and will inherit the Spencer/Carmichael Empire at the age of 21, and if he dies before then, the inheritance would go to charity.

After murdering his son Joseph in the attic room of the Chestman Park house, Richard Carmichael adopted a male boy from the Sacred Heart Orphanage located in Seattle, WA. Together, father and new son went to Basel, Switzerland, in October 1906, for treatment at a world-renouned hospital for diseases, and did not return until 1918, after the end of WWI.

Richard Carmichael and family lived in the Chestman Park house from 1899-1906. Richard sold the house in 1906 to Dr. Walter Bernard, who lived there with his family (wife, daughter and possibly brother).

Walter Bernard's daughter, Cora S. Bernard, was born in 1902 and died on 15 Feb 1909, after being in the hospital for a few weeks from being struck by a coal-cart outside of the Chestman Park home. She was buried in the Brookfield Cemetery, Seattle, WA. Dr. Bernard sold the Chestman house in 1909. Father, wife, daughter Cora, and Walter's brother, Lloyd, are all buried in the same cemetery.

Richard Carmichael also owned a ranch that was located at 136 27th St, Seattle, WA. The atlas maps of the area for the years 1908 and 1914 show the location of a well, with the section the well was in being sold in the second atlas, and the symbol for the well was removed from the 1928 atlas because a house was built in its place. The resident of the house above the well in 1980 was Mrs. Grey and her daughter, Linda. Her son also lived in the area (Tony, who helped John dig under the house to find the hidden well).

No history for the Chestman Park house is on file for the years of 1909-1965, until November of 1965 when William Sariccino and his family move in. They later move out in 1967 after disturbing occurences in the house. The Historical Preservation Society, with a grant from the Carmichael Foundation, purchases the Chestman Park house in 1967, and maintains the house until 1980 when John Russell moves in. Plans to turn the house into a museum fall through sometime between the period of 1970-1980.

John Russell was married to Joanne, and they had a daughter, Kathy. Both wife and daughter died in November 27 as the family was vacationing in upstate New York. After their death, John moves to Seattle, WA, four months later. He begins to teach Advanced Musical Form classes, as part of the Faculty of Music at the Univeristy of Seattle.

At this time, he is introduced to Claire Norman, who works for the Historical Preservation Society in Seattle. Through means of her own, she acquires a lease for the Chestman Park house so that John may stay there and compose music (mainly based on the fact that an old grand piano still resided in the house since the middle of century and was never moved because of its size).

Mr. Tuttle and Mrs. Riseon maintained the Chestman Park house for the Historical Society. Minnie Huxley, who works at the Historical Preservation Society, always kept in touch with Senator Carmichael throughout the entire lineage of the Chestman Park house, giving notice of those who might want to lease or purchase the house.

Senator Joseph Patrick Carmichael, a Republican who sat on the Historical Society's Board of Directors, had a son, Eugene Carmichael, that was a Congressman.

Once John Russell begins hearing and seeing disturbing occurences at the Chestman house, he calls for the aid of a spiritual medium, and a seance is held on a Thursday evening. That same night, Mrs. Grey's daughter, Linda, is visited by Joseph's ghost as he 'tries to climb up through the floor' of the house built atop of the long lost well. After discovering the well, and digging for hours into the night, John finally reaches the bones of the murdered child. Seargent Durbent takes the report later filed with the police department. That same night, after all have left, John returned to the house above the well and continued to dig, and was finally rewarded with the medalion the child once wore, bearing the inscription on the back of Joseph Patrick Carmichael and his birth date.

Captain DeWitt is killed after visiting John Russell at the Chestman Park house, demanding that Mr. Russell return a medalion that Senator Carmichael lost when he was young. The very one that John Russell tried to show the Senator at Boeing Airfield a few days prior.

-----------

Lets see what becomes of the newer remake, and if they keep to the original concept. =)

Now that I've seen del Toro's other films, I'd have to say that I think his visual styles are awesome. Pan's Labyrinth and Devil's Backbone alone are good enough movies to give this guy merit. Hellboy is more a family fun movie, but the costumes and visuals are great. If he can create a darker theme for this movie, and keep it visually appealing at the same time with the same sort of camera work and first-person views from the ghost's eyes, he could probably keep the gore aspect from this movie much like the original did. Build on suspense and the unknown, with some haunting melodies...
Just wonder who will direct, and if that person will see things differently than del Toro might, or from the theme of the oroginal movie.

I've actually heard nothing more on this for a while. I'm going to try and chase it up and see if we can find out anything on where the production is.

I love this movie. I hope the rumors of a remake are just that. Imagine Joseph as a masked killer, chasing people around the mansion with an ax. *shivers*

This was an awsome movie, except for the part where the house burns down.

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