I was reading a post this morning about the episode of THE WALTONS called “The Changeling,” which I personally don’t remember but now want to see, badly. Seeing the name of the episode immediately took me back to a scene in the movie THE CHANGELING with GEORGE C. SCOTT that scared the pants off of me as a kid and still elicits creepy memories and an avoidance of dark stairways.
The scene is when GEORGE is sitting in the study reading and a red ball comes bouncing down the stairs in the foyer. Perplexed, he picks it up and looks toward the top of the stairs, which are dark and foreboding. He picks up the ball and drives to a bridge, tosses the ball into the river below and returns home. As soon as he gets back to the house and takes off his coat the red ball comes bouncing back down the stairs. I was frightened enough the first time the ball bounced down from some unseen force’s hand, but when it happened a second time I was nearly pissing myself. The feeling of dread and the question of, “Would I dare go up there to see who tossed it?” stuck with me. Living at my grandparent’s house at the time they had an old stairway that led to the basement, with open slats between the stairs. I had spent many days frightened that some monster was living under the stairs waiting to reach through and grab my feet as I walked down. After watching THE CHANGELING I now added the rubber ball fear to my stairway phobia.
The entire film is creepy and frightening; really one of my favorites. It’s really well-made and worth a viewing if you haven’t done so. I’ve watched it numerous times since childhood and still don’t like seeing that red rubber ball, or any red ball I come across.