A Movie A Day: THE OTHER (1972)
Holland, where is the baby!?!?
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with the next installment of A Movie A Day: Halloween 2010 edition!
[For the entirety of October I will be showcasing one horror film each day. Every film is pulled from my DVD shelf or streamed via Netflix Instant and will be one I haven’t seen. Unlike my A Movie A Day or A Movie A Week columns there won’t necessarily be connectors between each film, but you’ll more than likely see patterns emerge day to day.]
I actually watched this last night as a way try to keep a step ahead of the column. It was also a way for me to keep these coming in on time (or at least close to on time). Because of my ridiculous sleep schedule (which has me going to bed around dawn) I’m not up until early evening, so watching the movie for the next day helps me from getting a day behind.
In the case of The Other I’m really glad I did. Had I written this review immediately after seeing the movie I’d probably be a little tougher on it. As the film has settled with me I’m finding I dig it more than upon the initial viewing.
To be honest the movie lost me in the middle. It drags a little, especially if you’re ahead of the story, which I was because I foolishly read the synopsis on the back of the DVD as my player was booting up. It starts off with a big secret that isn’t revealed until halfway through the picture and as such I was so ahead of the story that I felt like I was just waiting for it to catch up.
The start is strong, introducing twin boys Niles and Holland, played by the surprisingly strong young twins Chris and Martin Udvarnoky. I have to imagine director Robert Mulligan (To Kill A Mockingbird, The Stalking Moon, The Nickel Ride) felt like he hit the jackpot when he found these two kids.
For one, their eyes are a piercing green, very emotive, and for two they can deliver a line! Holy shit! Good child actors that also happen to be twins!
The Other is a variation on the good twin/evil twin story. Before I get much further I have to compliment Fox on their DVD. You know a trend I’d love to see take off? Vintage trailers before the DVD menu.
Fox does it here, showing trailers for The Omen (original and remake), The Good Son and, for some reason, The Hills Have Eyes remake. All but Hills thematically play into this film.
I know Anchor Bay used to do that, but I’d love to see library releases like this keep doing that. But what do I know? I’m a trailer fanatic.
Anyway, there is a Damien feel to Holland Perry. He acts out, he curses, he breaks things, including a poor little rat’s neck. When he’s upset people in this tiny Little House on the Prairie-ish community turn up dead.
Niles is the sweet kid, the family favorite. He’s a sensitive boy, loves his psychic Russian granny (played by the great Uta Hagen) and is her star pupil when it comes to “The Game.” The Game isn’t dwelled upon, but it’s a little like The Shine in King’s The Shining in that it’s a twinge of supernatural in a story that’s told in a very down to earth context.
Essentially, The Game is the ability for a person to put their consciousness into another living thing. We see Ada talk Niles into a relaxed state and see him enter a crow, seeing the small town from the bird as it flies.
There’s a mourning feel over the whole film, a stark contrast to the kids-will-be-kids energetic joy seen by Niles and Holland as they run around the woods surrounding their country home. Their mother has been isolated in her room, barely seen, since the tragic death of her husband (and the boys’ father). That hangs over the whole house, including the older sister who is pregnant and her husband, played by an impossibly young John Ritter.
I’m going to get into some spoilers here, the exact same stuff that the back of the DVD ruined for me, so fair warning.
About halfway through we find out that Holland has been dead for a year, having fallen down a well. Their mother isn’t just mourning the loss of her husband, but of a child as well.
Which leads to what I believe is the most interesting aspect of this film. Is Holland real in any sense? I don’t think he’s a ghost, but in a flashback we see Niles us “The Game” to speak with Holland while he’s in his coffin. It doesn’t work at first, but eventually he talks to his dead brother.
So, the real question is do you believe The Game worked and Holland, the evil child (we find out he did some crazy horrible things in his living years), is now influencing the good one, Niles, or has Niles cracked and is using his dead brother as a visual to deal with the horrible things he’s doing.
Mulling over that aspect of the film is what elevated it in my eyes. The finale is fantastic, a horribly fucked up tragedy and the Grandmother’s realization that she herself is to blame for opening this Pandora’s Box.
I liked that from the start, but the dragging middle becomes much more interesting when you begin to deconstruct it.
This film made an unintentionally good follow-up to yesterday’s AMAD, Prophecy, in that both are genre films told by very serious dramatic filmmakers. While Prophecy goes very cheesy in parts, the whole is told as a dramatic story. Same here. Mulligan films this as if it could be a spiritual follow-up to TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, but with fucked up kids and supernatural ambiguity.
Both films chronicle life in small town America from a child’s perspective. The Other just has us see the world from an evil kid’s eyes and not sweet little Scout’s eyes.
Final Thoughts: Dressing a horror movie over the corpse of a drama with great direction, a good story (if a little predictable in this day and age of spot-the-twist) and fantastic acting, especially from the twins and Uta Hagen, you get an interesting picture that’ll make you think a little bit, a rarity for the genre.
Currently in print on DVD: YES
Currently available on Netflix Instant: NO
Here are the next week’s worth of AMAD titles:
Thursday, October 14th: THE MUMMY (1959)
Friday, October 15th: THE GORGON (1964)
Saturday, October 16th: MAD LOVE (1935)
Sunday, October 17th: REPULSION (1965)
Monday, October 18th: THE VIDEO DEAD (1987)
Tuesday, October 19th: THE BLACK CAT (1981)
Wednesday, October 20th: THE BLACK CAT (1934)
Tomorrow brings Christopher Lee as The Mummy in Hammer’s take on the classic creature!
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Previous AMAD 2010’s:
- Raw Meat (1972)
- Ghost Story (1981)
- Two on a Guillotine (1965)
- Tentacles (1977)
- Bad Ronald (1974)
- The Entity (1983)
- Doctor X (1932)
- The Return of Doctor X (1939)
- The Tenant (1976)
- Man in the Attick (1953)
- New Year’s Evil (1980)
- Prophecy (1979)
Click here for the full 215 movie run of A Movie A Day!
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Oct. 14, 2010, 12:29 a.m. CST
Oct. 14, 2010, 12:30 a.m. CST
A friend gave me this movie on DVD and I haven't watched it yet. But in the last week alone I've seen three different things telling how great this movie is.
Oct. 14, 2010, 12:31 a.m. CST
more like AMADL A Movie A Day Late .....but it's good whenever it gets here....just had to wait for it longer than promised.
Oct. 14, 2010, 12:36 a.m. CST
...and then the DVD case reveals it? Nice.
Oct. 14, 2010, 12:46 a.m. CST
I hadn't seen BTW As always, another good review Quint....will have to look this one up Bravo
Oct. 14, 2010, 12:48 a.m. CST
This made me remember when my dad first told me about the movie and we watched it together. I still dig it a lot! Yup.
Oct. 14, 2010, 12:53 a.m. CST
One of my all time favorites.
Oct. 14, 2010, 1:08 a.m. CST
...black cat double bill. i need to see the karloff version too.
Oct. 14, 2010, 1:18 a.m. CST
to a great movie.<p></p> I saw this as a kid when it was released and never forgot it.
Oct. 14, 2010, 1:34 a.m. CST
This is one of those few movies/books that needs a modern retelling, in the mode of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. Good as the movie is, the book is even creepier that could be further explored.<p> Maybe someone could leave it on Del Toro's desk when he's not looking?
Oct. 14, 2010, 2:23 a.m. CST
Love this film. As disappointing as it is to have the "secret" spoiled, it's the fallout that is simply horrifying, and repeat viewings reveal nice details. A true horror film, and one of the most disturbing PG movies ever made. And John Ritter even kicks ass in a small role.
Oct. 14, 2010, 2:28 a.m. CST
Can't remember an awful lot about it apart from its prairie setting and the weird element of being able to project yourself into birds. That would be a pretty cool power to have. Do remember the ending quite vividly, though. I guess the movie sort of reminded me of The Bad Seed a little, which is probably a little better as far as evil children horrors go.
Oct. 14, 2010, 5:33 a.m. CST
by Red Dawn Don
Wikipedia Has A Great Spoiler Filled Synopsis Replete With Trivia. As Dudley Moores character in CRAZY PEOPLE says, "This Movie With F_ck You Up."
Oct. 14, 2010, 5:41 a.m. CST
my mistake was reading the book before the movie came out (ya, i know, im an old fart)<p>so i wasnt really scared or surprised...but the acting was solid
Oct. 14, 2010, 7:02 a.m. CST
People back in the 1970s did not fucking care about keeping it a period piece and cutting their hair.
Oct. 14, 2010, 7:12 a.m. CST
Sorry you were robbed of a great pleasure of the movie there, Quint. This movie is best served cold, predictable or not. The summary writer should be impaled on a pitchfork. The Other is one of the first twisty movies I think I ever saw... top ten TV nightmares of my childhood. I think I saw it with my grandpa, who took it all in stride, and I was even more scared that he could react that way. Grandpaaaaa!!! Holland is baaaad!!! And the scene where Uta Hagen explains The Great Game and Holland goes into the crow (I think they call it "The Great Game", not "The Game", right?)... Uta Hagen's delivery and her accent gives me the heebie jeebies every time.
Oct. 14, 2010, 7:36 a.m. CST
by Nasty In The Pasty
No matter if the film is set 100 years earlier, everyone will have poofy, feathered 70's hair.
Oct. 14, 2010, 8:27 a.m. CST
My supervisor just asked me about this movie yesterday. Another movie that I found similar in tone was "The Reflecting Skin". It messed me up pretty good.
Oct. 14, 2010, 8:43 a.m. CST
They were very natural actors for the difficult material given them. Kind of like Danny in The Shining or Barry in Close Encounters, wonder what happenned to those young actors.
Oct. 14, 2010, 8:48 a.m. CST
from the time I saw it on TV at about age 10. Now it come screaming back into my forebrain. Thank you.
Oct. 14, 2010, 8:53 a.m. CST
season of TCM Underground Fridays (well really Saturdays) at 2am Eastern. This week they kick it off with Repo Man. And Videodrome is scheduled for a future airing.
Oct. 14, 2010, 9:47 a.m. CST
by Sailor Rip
for the last month or so. AND I WATCH IT EVERYTIME!
Oct. 14, 2010, 9:48 a.m. CST
I miss TCM Underground nice to see they're bringing it back
Oct. 14, 2010, 10:06 a.m. CST
Oct. 14, 2010, 10:26 a.m. CST
"See ya in Philadelphia.....BOOM<p>Love that line.
Oct. 14, 2010, 10:30 a.m. CST
Have you started hallucinating and developed a tumor? I heard constant exposure to Videodrome does that you.
Oct. 14, 2010, 10:41 a.m. CST
This struck me as one of the few movies that was actually better than the book it was taken from. But considering that the screenplay was written by former actor Tom Tryon, who wrote the book as well, it makes sense he might have ironed a few wrinkles out. By the way, I'm curious if anyone has any other movies that they think are better than the source book. "The Natural" is the first one that comes to mind. The book was ungodly depressing...
Oct. 14, 2010, 11:04 a.m. CST
I remember watching this the first time it was shown on TV. Was doing sorta okay until the hidden pitchfork in the haystack. Walked outta the tv room after that. And decades later, it still makes me nauseous (and they really didn't show anything....)
Oct. 14, 2010, 11:04 a.m. CST
Oct. 14, 2010, 11:07 a.m. CST
I'd have to say, even though it was a HUGE bestseller,(I remember reading the #1 best selling paperback while the hardcover was still on the charts) that Jaws streamlined, got rid of subplots and became a better movie than book. And Matt Hooper lives!
Oct. 14, 2010, 11:33 a.m. CST
I'm only 15 but I'm discovering that I get much more turned on by women with pubic hair. Shaved chicks just remind me of manniquins or children. I think it has something to do with the fact that it grows there for the purpose of attracting the male of the species
Oct. 14, 2010, 11:45 a.m. CST
by Sailor Rip
I think the large amounts of alcohol I consume daily negates Videodrome's effect. Of course I shouldn't be telling you this Mr. Convex.
Oct. 14, 2010, 1:49 p.m. CST
First, for spoiling the movie just like the DVD did. You didn't need to do that. Just stupid. You could have talked around the secret. Think of how much more you would have loved this film if you had seen it "fresh". Like I fucking loved it and still do! And secondly, you can't judge it on it's own terms? You have to do what so many kids do now, call something a "weak" horror or action picture just because it takes the time to tell a great story. C'mon, don't dumb it down. It's a great fucking film, period - no reason to qualify it with "if you want a movie that forces you to think". Jesus...
Oct. 14, 2010, 1:50 p.m. CST
Ugh - now I'll have nightmares of pitchforks in hay all over again. I watched "Burnt Offerings" yesterday, if interested in how to bake one, ck here: http://wp.me/p165o5-10 @dumbricht on twitter
Oct. 14, 2010, 2:06 p.m. CST
I don't know how it lost you in the middle, it goes from creepy to creepier all the way through... It tightens the screws beautifully all the way to the end. Jesus, your whole generation needs to get a fucking attention span. They have them at Radio Shack. Like $7.95 I think. Very Old School, I know, but they do wonders. And stop reading DVD covers before watching a movie!!! DUH.
Oct. 14, 2010, 2:30 p.m. CST
I hear PT Anderson is planning a remake of this. To be titled: The Brother from Another Other.
Oct. 14, 2010, 3:48 p.m. CST
"We got bush!"
Oct. 14, 2010, 5:04 p.m. CST
gives a lot away too with the 2 shadows but only one boy.
Oct. 14, 2010, 8:43 p.m. CST
can anyone tell me how Let Me In has reshot the 'swimming pool scene?
Oct. 14, 2010, 9:16 p.m. CST
by Nasty In The Pasty
It's a superb remake and it needs ever dollar it can get.
Oct. 14, 2010, 10:54 p.m. CST
It was alright, with some good moments. The kid was mediocre; not terrible, but close to over-pronouncing his words as most child actors think they have to. I agree that the middle is a bit slow, but the third act (after the twist reveal) with the baby was giving me the spine creeps. <p> And while I could see that "Holland" had the time to cut the lock off, where in the hell did he get the bolt cutter and how did he have the strength to cut it? When his grandmother jumped in with the lantern, he should have at least been looking like Khan at the end of STAR TREK 2, even if he did pull a Tom Cruise and jump out as all of the cat tails burst into flames. Shiiit, the kid should have been engulfed in a fireball just from the cat tails combusting.. those things are damn near like artificial coffee creamer!
Oct. 14, 2010, 10:58 p.m. CST
Why in the hell did the kid(s) put all of those cat tails (the puffy plants, not literal cat tails) all over the stairs and the floor of the apple cellar? And did anyone else get the impression that the kid would have just smiled and sat there as he burned alive, as earlier he was talking about wanting to see "the angel" before he died? While the 2nd twist was a bit of a surprise, I'm not sure if I buy it, as the kid's multiple personalities were merging and his (even subconscious guilt) would have made him stay (not to mention the hallucination that his grandmother was the angel from the church). It would have been creepier if when the grandmother went to swing the lantern in, the kid extended his arms out as if for a hug.
Oct. 14, 2010, 11 p.m. CST
If instead of the maid telling Niles to get cleaned up, you overheard her making plans for Ada and Niles' funeral, while still showing him in the window.
Oct. 14, 2010, 11:34 p.m. CST
You're absolutely right about Jaws. Good choice! Not only does Hooper survive in the movie, but we don't have to put up with such silly subplots, like his affair with Chief Brody's wife, etc.
Oct. 15, 2010, 2:52 a.m. CST
So glad to see someone mention The Reflecting Skin. It and The Other would make a great "Rural Gothic" double feature. The Other is also aided by Jerry Goldsmith's score, which plays on the atmosphere of the setting--it's not a scary score, until he brings in that awesome 70's echoing percussion, a cymbal or gamelon or whatever it is called. The final few moments are really creepy. Who cares about the haircuts? Damn, as scripts get stupider, people today focus on the details far too closely--it's the decay of standards.
Oct. 15, 2010, 3:35 a.m. CST
This is one of the best horror movies ever. My favourite is Night of the Demon.
Oct. 15, 2010, 3:43 a.m. CST
"as scripts get stupider, people today focus on the details far too closely--it's the decay of standards". Damn right!
Oct. 15, 2010, 11:01 a.m. CST
Absolutely right about Let Me In. Loved the hiding/attack scene in the car, ending with the driving/accident POV. Like classic Hitchcock. YES. That good.
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