After two weeks vampire films in a row (three if you ignore the brief respite with a week of alien invasion) I ended the Halloween season with films about haunted houses. To keep things interesting I went with two extremes from the serious to the ridiculous. They’re actually pretty similar and not just because the premise.

Wednesday Halloween Double Feature Haunted Houses the ghost and Mr ChickenStarting with the ridiculous, the first film on my list was Don KnottsThe Ghost and Mr. Chicken. Knotts plays Luthor Higgs a timid man who works as a typesetter the local paper in Kansas town. He’s frequently teased by his coworkers and neighbors for his cowardice and incompetence. He dreams of becoming a real reporter. He finally gets his first lucky break when stay over night in a condemned house that is supposedly haunted. When he actually witnesses and reports on a ghostly occurrence. He becomes an instant celebrity. However the man who wants the house torn down regards this as a threat and tries to discredit Luthor.
This was… OK. Don Knotts is a very good physical comedian and every scene easy and is certainly funny however there’s not much I can really say for the rest of the film.Once you get past nights performance, there really isn’t much to this film besides cliché plot lines and running gags in an idealistic Norman Rockwell setting.

Wednesday Halloween Double Feature Haunted Houses The ChangelingThe next film on my list is the serious one. The Changeling directed by Peter Medak starring George C Scott. Scott plays John Russel a well known composer whose family is lost in a freaking car accident. In order to move on past this tragedy he moves to Seattle and rents an old mansion handled by the local historical society. The mansion turns out to be haunted by the ghost of a boy named Josef. Slowly and surely we discover with Scott the mystery of the boys death and the fact that those who benefited from his death are still out there and prospering from it… and Josef will not give Russell a moments piece until he gets his justice.

If I’d known about this for a film earlier I would’ve done it as a double feature with the Haunting last year. This was very good film and Scott was on the top of his game. It was especially cool because it was just as much a mystery as it was a horror film, with Scott slowly but surely finding out the details of Josef’s history.
Personally I thought there were some scenes where some of the musical accompaniment was not necessary. I thought that it would’ve been much creepier if it’d been left quiet with only the noise of the ghosts’ presence such as slamming doors and all the other things that we were shown.

Also, as a Seattleite I found myself noticing all of the little details about 80 Seattle, and all of the things that they did wrong with it. Most noticeably there was a scene where the antagonist is walks into the Henry M. Jackson Federal Building on Second ave then the camera pulls back and it becomes Safeco Plaza, a half mile away on fourth ave.