The Horror Pod Class Episode 109 The Changeling
Live from the Dr. Henry Armitage Memorial High School AV Room
Welcome to episode 109 of The Horror Pod Class. My name is Tyler and I run Signal Horizon a magazine dedicated to exploring genre fiction in and out of the classroom.
Orrin: And I’m Orrin Grey, Monster Ambassador here at Signal Horizon and the guy who makes Tyler come up with some sort of lesson plan around the movies I pick.
Tyler: Tonight on the Horror Pod Class we are going to spend some time talking about what we have been watching and reading, we will help you find some free genre content on the internet and finally we will spend the remainder of the episode discussing The 1980 horror film The Changeling As you might have noticed this season you can check out all of back episodes on Itunes and any other podcatchers and the live version on our Youtube channel!
WHAT ARE WE WATCHING/READING
Tyler: The Girl Without a Mouth directed by Can Evrenol Rereading the Stand, Watched Nuclear, Freaky and Rot
Orrin: Reading a whole lot of nothing because my head is down working on a big project that has a tight deadline at the end of the month. Recently watched Warning: Do Not Play, though!
Dark Corners of the Web
Nightmare Magazine Introduction to the Horror Story
Essential Questions: What can the 1980 movie The Changeling tell us about creepy composers?
Summary: After the death of his wife and daughter in a car crash, a music professor staying at an old mansion is dragged into a decades-old murder of a child by an inexplicable presence in the mansion’s attic.
|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|
|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||…||Eugene Carmichael|
|J. Kenneth Campbell||…||Security Guard|
In which Orrin goes on at far too much length about the red ball scene:
There are so many layers and so much narrative information in the red ball scene, starting with: The image itself is just creepy. It just works, as can be seen from the number of times it’s been repurposed in other horror movies without any of the surrounding context that this one has.
In this case, it’s more than just a creepy happening or an indication of the haunting. It’s a reminder of his daughter’s death. That’s why he takes it and throws it in the river. And when he does, and comes back to find it rolling down the stairs again, that one shot instantly tells both us and him SO MUCH:
1. The ghost is targeting him, specifically, meaning that it is intelligent, adaptive. Not directionless energy or an unthinking grudge. It could have rolled anything down those stairs, but it didn’t. It chose the specific ball that he tried to take away from it. He tried to thwart it; it’s showing him that he failed.
2. The ghost’s powers are much greater than anything we have seen up until now. This goes far beyond telekinesis. It can reach out to a river however far away, pluck out the ball, and teleport it back here to roll it down the stairs. Which also lets him (and us) know that:
3. He cannot escape. While the ghost may be tied to the house, it isn’t confined there. If it can reach the ball in the river, then it can reach him wherever he might try to flee. There’s a reason this scene comes right after she tells him “You must get out of that house.” It’s letting him (and us) know that won’t work.
To put it in modern internet terms, it is basically the biggest power move in the history of horror movie antagonists, but so subtly done that you have to spend way too much time thinking about it – as I obviously have – in order to consciously realize all of what it’s doing.
OK so I think its a cool scene but 1) Could he have thrown the ball in the river in his mind? 2) Could the ball reappear only in his mind?
The Play The Changeling: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Changeling_(play)
Four Movies Like This
Orrin: Ghost Story (1981) and Don’t Look Now (1973)
Tyler: Monster House (2006) and The Haunting (1963)
A very old man loses his much younger wife and their daughter in an accident. Then he moves into a haunted house where he proceeds to bore me to death.
Next Time: His House
Tyler has been the editor in chief of Signal Horizon since its conception. He is also the Director of Monsters 101 at Truman State University a class that pairs horror movie criticism with survival skills to help middle and high school students learn critical thinking. When he is not watching, teaching or thinking about horror he is the Director of Debate and Forensics at a high school in Kansas City, Missouri.