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Release Date: October 25th, 2022 Movie Release Year: 1980

The Changeling - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Overview -

Haunted house movies from the 1980s (or ever) rarely get better than Peter Medak’s The Changeling, starring George C. Scott as a grief-stricken man constantly being goaded into emotional distress by a house with some unfinished business. Medak has a mastery of the frame and atmosphere in the film, evoking that deep sense of emptiness and loss by showcasing just how vacant yet suffocating the world can feel when overcome with grief. Not to mention that it was also shot by John Coquillon, a frequent collaborator of Sam Peckinpah’s. Severin Films brings this timeless paranormal story to 4K UHD with a new transfer sourced from a 4K scan of the internegative, and I’m eager to report that the presentation looks stunning and offers a terrific showcase of the source in all its thick filmic glory. Add in a couple new special features and Severin has provided a very worthy upgrade to their previous Blu-ray release of the film and comes Recommended.

It has been called “remarkable” (Paste Magazine), “utterly terrifying” (Mondo Digital) and “a ghost story guaranteed to freeze the blood” (Gannett). Now this “masterpiece of terror” (Reel Reviews) from director Peter Medak (THE RULING CLASS) comes to UHD like you’ve never seen, heard or experienced it before: Academy Award® winner George C. Scott gives “one of his greatest performances ever” (Bloody Good Horror) as a grieving music professor tormented by a paranormal horror that includes “the best séance in horror movie history” (Newsweek). Trish Van Devere (THE HEARSE), two-time Oscar® winner Melvyn Douglas (THE TENANT) and Jean Marsh (FRENZY) co-star in “one of the most terrifying horror films of all time” (DVD Beaver), now scanned in 4K from the internegative with 4½ hours of Special Features – including revealing new interviews with Medak – plus a soundtrack CD and more.

Special Features:

  • Audio Commentary With Director Peter Medak And Producer Joel B. Michaels Moderated By Severin Films' David Gregory
  • Interview With Peter Medak By Filmmaker Adrián García Bogliano At Mórbido Fest 2018
  • Exile On Curzon St. — Peter Medak On His Early Years In Swinging London
  • The House On Cheesman Park — The Haunting True Story Of THE CHANGELING
  • The Music Of THE CHANGELING — Interview With Music Arranger Kenneth Wannberg
  • Building The House Of Horror — Interview With Art Director Reuben Freed
  • The Psychotronic Tourist — THE CHANGELING
  • Master Of Horror Mick Garris On THE CHANGELING
  • CD Soundtrack

Disc Specs:

  • Aspect ratio: 1.85.1
  • Audio: English 5.1 / English Stereo / Italian Mono / Spanish Mono / German Mono
  • Closed Captions / English Subtitles
  • Region Free
  • Run time: 107 minutes

Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray + Audio CD
Video Resolution/Codec:
2160p HEVC/H.265
Aspect Ratio(s):
Release Date:
October 25th, 2022

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


When you hear about haunted house movies from the 1980s, usually the conversation is dominated with talks of Poltergeist, Evil Dead, The House by the Cemetery, and various others, but none of those works strove for the kind of haunted elegance that The Changeling does. Take the classier Hollywood horror of the mid-1900s (think Jack Clayton’s The Innocents) and combine it with the kind of ambiance and punch brought by ’70s horror (think Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now) to get this suspenseful paranormal story. There’s a degree to which the familiarity of its plot may soften some of its impact, but everything is so perfectly executed that you rarely care. Not to mention that such sturdy craftsmanship is integral to pulling off a story that needs to be deeply felt in the visuals as well as the dialogue. 

Tragedy gives way to grief and well…more tragedy in The Changeling. After New York City composer John Russell (George C. Scott) witnesses the brutal deaths of his wife and child after a freak car accident, he rents an old mansion in Seattle to try to work through his overwhelming grief. But soon after he moves into the house, he starts to witness unexplained phenomena that are only getting more aggressive as the days pass. And when John investigates the history of the house, he discovers a violent past involving a powerful senator (Melvyn Douglas).

Peter Medak always struck me as the kind of filmmaker who sought for the perfect combination of visuals and music in his films. You can see that early in his career when he was directing music videos for acts like Pink Floyd, and you can even see it in his iteration of Zorro: The Gay Blade. To Medak, ambiance and tone were as essential to filmmaking as the story, and I think that way of thinking may have found the best platform in The Changeling. John’s grief is made depressingly real through the collision of stately yet suffocating cinematography and the spare score meant to emulate a child’s lullaby. With the windswept sound design, the eeriness gets turned up to 11. 

Sitting at 107 minutes, The Changeling expertly ratchets tension until an unforgettable reveal – a kind-of gambit used in a ton of other horror movies from that era. But here, the reveal only supplants the tragedy undergirding the film throughout. Add in one of George C. Scott’s absolute best performances, with that usual stolid attitude giving way to a clear, consistent internal pain and you have a film well worth revisiting time and again.

Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Ghosts never stay dead in The Changeling with Severin Film’s three-disc (BD-66, BD-50 and CD) release. The discs are housed in a black Elite amaray case and comes with a card that offers Japanese poster artwork on one side and the score CD’s tracks on the other. The case also comes in an embossed slipcover with some cool new art produced for this release. The 4K BD-66 disc fires up to a menu screen with options to play the film, choose audio and subtitle options, browse special features and pick chapters. Segments from the film play on a loop on the menu screen.

Video Review


Before I get into this new 4K presentation sourced from a 4K scan of the internegative, I want to emphasize that any internegative element is going to offer more contrast, grain, and a bit of softness when compared to the original camera negative. Seeing as this new transfer is not sourced from a full-fledged restoration, it should go without saying that this presentation is more representative of the internegative and how the film looked in theaters. That comes with some key positives, like some truly expressive and thick film grain being blown up to 2160p, plus a bit of harsher color fluctuations during transitions and optical effects. But where I really think this 4K presentation sings is in just how well-resolved details are without taking away from the inherent softness in the source.

For a film that has multiple key sequences in a darkly lit house or setting, it’s my pleasure to report that blacks look inky and don’t suffer from any compression or crushing issues. As mentioned earlier, there’s definitely some color fluctuations that pop up from time to time, but the encode handles it all capably and it doesn’t look too harsh when those fluctuations occur. In particular, the opening sequence probably suffers from this the most, yet it’s not all that distracting and doesn’t soften the blow of what’s on screen. Overall bitrate is extremely healthy as well, hovering mostly between 70-80Mbps for the majority of the film. 

As for how HDR is applied, I want to note that this is a 10-bit HDR layer in the BT.2020 color space. That’s not to take away from the HDR’s impact, but it’s important tech information nonetheless. HDR is added a bit conservatively and I think that’s best for the film source used or everything will look too blown out and stricken with heavy contrast. Since the internegative is already a bit heavy on contrast to begin with, it was nice to see that HDR has been used to add some warmth when compared to the 2018 Blu-ray’s cooler color grade. If you’re looking for a night-and-day difference over the previous release, you won’t find it here. But what you will find is a much more expressive picture, grain field and highlights that look very filmic.

Audio Review


As far as I can tell, Severin offers the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 and DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio tracks from their previous 2018 Blu-ray release, which is totally well and good considering they’re both great tracks to begin with. The 5.1 surround track is subtle for the majority of the movie, but you’ll notice small moments of wind blowing from the surround channels and the climax opens up beautifully to dominate all five channels. Spooky sound effects, like creaking doors and a ball rolling down the stairs, get some added height and depth as well.

Special Features


As for special features, Severin has put in the legwork of carrying over all the supplements previously included on the 2018 Blu-ray release, plus a couple of new features as well. There’s a new hour-long interview with Peter Medak at Mórbido Fest that’s a bit spare in details but nonetheless enlivening because of Medak’s passion to talk about filmmaking. And in addition, there’s another 20-minute interview with Medak about his younger years in swinging London. Not all that relevant to the film being exhibited, but a nice treat for fans of the filmmaker. The CD soundtrack is included again as well.

  • Audio Commentary with director Peter Medak and producer Joel B. Michaels moderated by Severin Films' David Gregory
  • Interview with Peter Medak by filmmaker Adrián García Bogliano at Mórbido Fest 2018
  • Exile on Curzon St. - Peter Medak on his early years in swinging London
  • The House on Cheesman Park - The haunting true story of The Changeling
  • The Music of The Changeling - Interview with music arranger Kenneth Wannberg
  • Building the House Of Horror - Interview with art director Reuben Freed
  • The Psychotronic Tourist – The Changeling
  • Master of horror Mick Garris on The Changeling
  • CD soundtrack

Final Thoughts

What is dead and gone may not always stay dead in Peter Medak’s The Changeling, one of the most engrossing ghost stories from the horror movie circuit of the 1980s. Severin Films presents the classic film in a new three-disc 4K Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and CD release that improves upon their previous 2018 Blu-ray release wonderfully. For this spooky season, The Changeling comes Recommended!