Traumafessions :: Reader David O. on The Changeling

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.


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Liam Cole
Liam Cole (@liam-cole)
10 years ago

What really creeped me out was the fact that the first time the ball comes down the stairs it is dry, but after he has dumped it off the bridge it comes back down the stairs WET.

Eshbaal (@eshbaal)
10 years ago

Oh sweet heavens yes, The Changeling. This instantly become one of my favorite horror movies of all time, that really deserves much more fame than it gets. It’s brilliant, pretty much the perfect ghost movie.

My personal favorite scene, and the one that freaked me out the most, though, would have to be the séance. Everyone who’s watched it knows what I’m talking about. I had absolutely no problem believing what was going on at any moment during that scene.


Amanda By Night
Amanda By Night (@amanda-by-night)
10 years ago

I think The Changeling is probably my favorite haunted house movie. It’s just really effective in not just the terror of the situation, but also George C. Scott is such a presence. There is this scene where he’s just laying in bed crying and these crazy loud noises start. The film really deals with his grief over the loss of his family. There is so much going on. I love the story and the fact except for one scene, it’s not a violent film at all. The filmmakers (Peter Medak is one of my favorite directors) really knew how to create atmosphere and suspense without falling into quick shock pitfalls. Wonderful movie.

David Fullam
David Fullam (@fb1004515993)
10 years ago

A very underrated film.

mamamiasweetpeaches (@mamamiasweetpeaches)
10 years ago

TOTALLY under-rated. I never even HEARD of this movie til I was a grown up and its one of the few movies that really freaked me out so much as an adult I cant help but wonder what I would have felt like watching it as a child.
The seance, the ball, the wheelchair, the bathtub…..the list goes on and on.

tehdarwinator (@tehdarwinator)
10 years ago

This movie is one of the truly great ghost stories. What I love about it, aside from the fact that it is genuinely scary, is the premise that the characters AND the audience are intelligent. Everyone in the movie exhibits believable behavior; they are just as baffled by the rather extraordinary circumstances as any ordinary person would be. In a movie this rich in incidents, subtext and psychology, it is such a pleasure to be allowed to unravel the mysteries without being beaten over the head with the ‘answers.’ This is why the movie improves with every viewing; there are always more layers that you didn’t notice before. Of course, having the most chilling seance sequence ever doesn’t hurt either, especially the part where George C. Scott listens to the tape afterward. As long as I live I will never forget the sound of that child crying, “My medal…”

sob317 (@sob317)
10 years ago

Funny, I was just thinking about this movie the other day. I can still recall going to see it with my mom when I was about 9 or so and picking up a 45 of Blondie’s “Call Me” after the show. I absolutely love this film and like many others, think it’s vastly underrated. Anytime I see an old wheelchair I still get chills. My aunt and uncle lived in an older farmhouse and while there was nothing inherently scary about their house they did have a staircase with a turn near the top that keep the uppermost steps quite dark. Every time I would go up those stairs at night I was convinced that I was going to see a ball come bouncing down them taking my sanity along with it. I got to see a lot of pretty scary movies as a kid but most of the scares would get left at the movie theatre when the lights came on. This one stuck with me for a long, long time and had me repeating “it was only a movie” for years to come.

Apocalypsejunkie (@apocalypsejunkie)
10 years ago

I’ve read this movie was based on a true story. They changed the location from Denver to Washington State. I haven’t been able to find out much more about it than that, though. 🙁

Apocalypsejunkie (@apocalypsejunkie)
10 years ago

After some more digging around I did find this..
it’s the sixth entry down.