January 31, 2013

The Other (1972)
Starring Chris and Martin Udvarnoky and Uta Hagen 

Comments:   One of my favorite hobbies in the world is trying to track down copies of obscure horror movies.  This is something that I do CONSTANTLY.  Ever since I was about fifteen years old, I am almost always trying to track down some random obscure horror movie that somebody was raving about on a message board because it creeped them out in 1975, but they never saw it again because it was never released on video. This is the kind of stuff that I read and I remember.  And I will file it away somewhere in the back of my head.  And then afterwards I will spend the next 4-5 years trying to see if I can track down a copy of it and see it for myself.

In fact, if you asked me what my all time specialty movie category would be, I wouldn't even have to think about it.  It would be this.  Obscure horror movies.  This category of movie has been my bread and butter for nearly 25 years.

Well there is one movie that almost ALWAYS shows up on lists of "great horror movies that most people have never seen."  It is called The Other and it is from 1972.  And it is a movie that, surprisingly, I wasn't even all that familiar with until a couple of years ago.  This movie is so obscure that even people who keep lists of great forgotten horror movies sometimes aren't even aware of it.  

Like I said, I am constantly seeking out recommendations for good horror movies.  Although I have to add a small asterisk to that.  I don't really like gory horror movies.  And I couldn't care less about torture movies or about most slasher movies.  No, the kind of movies that I am interested in are the creepy ones.  The psychological ones.  I love the ones that are disturbing and that just sort of get under your skin.  In fact the greatest recommendation I could ever read about a horror movie is the phrase "I saw this movie when I was a kid and it messed me up."  Either that or "I only saw this movie once, twenty years ago, and I have never forgotten it."

Any time you see something like that in a review of a horror movie, that is when you know you are talking about something special.  Because THOSE are the horror movies that tend to be great.  The ones that a kid saw one time in 1976, and he never forgot it because it got under his skin.  That is the kind of psychological stuff that I am always on the lookout for.

Well as you can guess, The Other is just like that.  If you dig around the internet a little and you read about it, you will see those comments about it over and over and over.  "It got under my skin."  "It was hard to sleep after I saw this movie."  "Damn those kids creeped me out."  "Why did I see this when I was ten?"  

Oh and my favorite, "I hate this movie, it messed me up."


Dead Baby Nightmare Fuel

The Other is the story of twin brothers who live on a farm in the 1930's.  Their names are Niles and Holland.  And of course, since this is a horror movie, one of them is good and the other one is evil.  

The good one (Niles) is constantly trying to do good things like being nice to his mother.  And doing his chores and cleaning up his room.

And the evil one (Holland) is constantly doing things like putting a pitchfork in the hayloft of his neighbor's barn.  So when a kid jumps off the loft and into the hay, he will impale himself.

You know, just stuff like that.  It is your typical early 70's horror movie.  They were big into their evil little kids back then.

Niles watching Holland being up to no good

The Other is one of those movies that I don't want you tell you too much about ahead of time.  Because it is best if you just sort of experience it for yourself.  It is best to go into it knowing nothing about it, so you can just sit back and experience its... well, for lack of a better term... you can experience its wrongness.  Because that really is the best way to describe it.  The Other isn't gory.  It isn't gross.  I don't think there is a drop of blood in the entire movie.  Oh but you will most certainly remember it.  There are very few movies that have ever been as... again, for lack of a better term... as wrong as this one.

When I first saw it, I immediately understood why so many people were messed up when they first saw it back in 1972.  This is the kind of movie that was doing stuff that other horror movies hadn't even thought of before.

Case in point:  You know The Shining?  You know how Danny Torrance had a gift where he could see through other people's eyes, and how it was kind of creepy?  Well Stephen King pretty much lifted that right out of The Other.  Niles and Holland have a game that they play with their grandmother that is just called "the game."  And it is basically the exact same thing as The Shine.  They can get into other people's heads and get into their thoughts.

Grandma teaching Niles how to play "The Game"

The Other (which is based on a book) came out in 1972 and it was a fairly modest hit.  It wasn't a huge blockbuster by any stretch of the imagination, but then again they really didn't have blockbusters the way we know them back then, so I don't know what I would use as a modern comparison.  This was two years before I was born so all I know is what I have read about it.  I know that The Other came out in 1972, I know that it scared a lot of people, and then for whatever reason I know that it just sort of disappeared.  From what I have read, it showed up as a TV movie a couple of times in the mid 70's, and it creeped out a whole new generation of viewers, but other than that this movie was effectively gone after about 1979.  I don't know if it was ever released on video.  From what I have read about it, I don't think it ever was.  It just sort of vanished into the nether world.

I first heard about The Other sometime around the year 2005.  I was doing my usual search around the internet, looking for obscure scary movies that I had never heard of before.  And there it was, in some random post on some random message board about psychological horror movies.  The Other.  "This is the scariest movie I have ever seen."  

Hmm, that's interesting.  How come I had never heard of this movie before?  I thought I knew just about every horror movie.  Well now I was curious.

After that post, I saw a few responses come in from other people who had also grown up in the early 70's.  "Oh yeah, The Other!  OMG!  That movie creeped me out!"  "Holy shit, whatever happened to that movie?"  "I HATED that movie!  I hated those stupid kids, that movie was scary as hell."  "I have never trusted twins again after I watched that movie."

Again, I see reviews like that and I know I am on to something.  That is the kind of movie that needs to be found.


I looked for a copy of The Other for about three years.  Nothing.  It was impossible to find anywhere in the world.  I even looked in China, and you couldn't even find it in China.  And those fuckers will bootleg anything.  This movie was absolutely impossible to get a hold of anywhere on the planet Earth.  After three years, I was ready to write it off as having been lost forever.

And then, one day, it happened.  I don't know how this happened, I don't know why it happened.  All I know is that one day, whichever deity in charge that day was smiling down on me.

In 2008, we happened to have a free preview of the American Movie Classics channel for a week.  Just a week.  That was the only window this possibly could have happened in.  And as I was scanning through the AMC lineup for the week (not expecting to find anything interesting) suddenly my eyes nearly popped out of my head.  Because there it was, listed as the late night Friday night movie.  "The Other (1972) - Twin brothers grow up on a farm in New England and cause trouble."

Holy shit.

There could not have been a movie that was ever DVR'd any faster than this one.

So anyway, there you go.  The Other.  A movie that will mess you up.  A movie that messed countless kids up in the early 70's.  A movie you will never forget.

The bad news is that The Other is still relatively difficult to find.  I mean, it's not the kind of movie where you can just walk down to Blockbuster and grab it off the shelf.  I have never seen it in a video store in my life in over 30 years.  And assuming that video stores actually still exist, I doubt that I ever will.  This is the sort of movie that you either have to record off TV, you have to buy off Amazon, or you have to find somewhere on the internet.

The GOOD news is that finding a copy of The Other on the internet is much easier now than it was ten years ago.  It was released on DVD a couple of years ago, so you can just buy it off of Amazon if you want now (I even included a link at the bottom of the page for your convenience).  It is also available on Netflix.  So at this point there really is no reason for you not to have seen it.  If you are a fan of psychological horror movies, heck if you are a fan of the history of horror movies at all, this is one that you need to see at least once.  It is kind of a big deal.

And then after you watch it once, start it over and watch it again.  Because the second time around you will catch a lot more of the foreshadowing.  :)

Such as the angel symbolism

One last thing before I finish this writeup.  

My favorite era of horror movies happens to be the early 70's.  I LOVE the way that they did horror back then.  The movies were very slow, they were very deliberate, and the stories were very much based on dread.  Stuff didn't necessarily jump out at you every ten minutes, what scary movies loved to do back then was take a nice slow buildup and milk it for 90 minutes.  And then they would hit you at the end with all of the nasty stuff.   So the movie would slowly grow more ominous and more ominous and more wrong until the actual horror happened.

Oh and a lot of the good movies from that time period were generally based around creepy little kids.  The Other has a lot in common with The Bad Seed and with The Omen.  They are all children from the exact same mother.

What I guess I am saying here is, when you watch The Other, keep in mind that horror movies were made much differently back then.  They weren't fast, they weren't obvious, they weren't made for people with a short attention span.  And they were most definitely not gory.  The Other is a movie that is filled with atmosphere, it is filled with dread, and it is filled with foreshadowing.  The first time you watch it you might think it is boring.  You might think it is slow.  And you might not understand what happens at the end.  I know that I didn't, I had to start it over and watch it a second time.

And the second time I saw it, ah.  That's when I got it.  Oh good job, movie, I see what you did there.  Oh and also, f you.

Basically what I am saying is, this movie might seem slow to you the first time you see it but give it a chance.  It isn't really boring at all.  Everything you see in the movie has been placed in the movie for a reason.  It is all just setup and foreshadowing.  

Oh yeah, two last trivia notes about The Other.

The first trivia note is that the actors who played the two little kids (Martin and Chris Udvarnoky) never acted in a movie again.  Like John Denver in Oh, God! this was their one and only shot at movie stardom.  It came, it went, and then they retired and they went back to doing other stuff.  Although what a legacy that was if you only get to make one film.  They were the twins who messed up so many kids in the early 70's.  I know that is more of a legacy than you or I will probably ever get.

Little bastards

The second piece of trivia about The Other is that one of the co-stars is a young actor named John Ritter (who of course later shot to fame in the TV show Three's Company, among other things.)  His role isn't really all that important in the movie, but it is neat to see a guy who later became famous in one of his very first movies.  John Ritter is awfully young in The Other.  He couldn't have been that far out of college.

John Ritter reading about the Lindbergh kidnapping

Oh and because I love this movie so much, I am including my ten favorite IMDB reviews instead of six.  Check them out below.  There is a reason this movie is so notorious.

* My favorite IMDB user reviews about The Other:

Where's the baby HOLLAND???, 22 October 2003

This movie is so creepy. I have to see if the DVD is available for this. I remember this from childhood and just get chills from the sound echoing in my head of a finger being cut off w/ garden shears, 'Shining' like feeling of 'the game' and evil twin brother killing anyone that gets in his path. Great direction, acting, and writing. I see here on imdb that this same director did many great films 'To Kill a Mockingbird', 'Up the Down Staircase', 'Same Time Next Year' You can really tell that an experienced director made this film. John Ritter's first serious movie part ever. Up there with some of the best Stephen King stories. The Other will stay in your head whether you want it to or not.

Very Creepy! - 30 May 2008
There are some movies that leave a lasting impression on us and for me, this was certainly one of them. I have only seen it once, when I was about 19 years old and I am still telling my friends about this movie you have to see. It's not going to impress you with special effects but the apparently simple story line draws you in as you begin to identify with the strong relationships between the main actors and how they deal with their stable world that is beginning to unravel. I am reminded of The Sixth Sense, The Village and The Silence of the Lambs in some ways. The Other is one of those rare movies that has an ending that you really could not predict even though you thought you had it nailed down, right up to that moment when you realized that you didn't. When the movie was over, the entire audience got up and we all walked out onto the street and I vividly recall that no one spoke a single word. We were all just pondering what we had just seen. We were stunned. It was awesome to get to feel that creepy about a movie.

If you're patient...this one pays off! - 19 January 2002
I want to thank everyone else who wrote a commentary because it convinced me to rent this little gem. "The Other" (1972) was one of the best rentals I've had recently. I won't dare give away anything here, but if you haven't seen it do so at once! Don't be alarmed if you think the movie is going around in circles, it's not. You have to be pay attention but you won't be disappointed if you do. What impresses me the most is that this film doesn't employ any super-naturalism unlike all other films of this nature which makes it a wholly intelligent, believable and scary film.

Director-Producer Robert Mulligan is best known for the classic, "To Kill A Mocking Bird" (1962). His steady, no-nonsense direction makes this film work when it could have very easily gotten grotesque and silly. The photography is also beautiful and the acting is perfect. I do have a few minor complaints, but I won't spoil it for you. You may have to search for this film, but if you find it...SEE IT!

Thriller in Daylight - 11 November 2002
I saw this in the theater during its initial release in 1972, but haven't seen it since. The one thing that has stayed with me all these years is that every scene was shot either outdoors, or with bright lights. This goes counter to every movie of this genre that I've ever watched. It takes quite a movie craftsperson to make bright blue skies seem sinister.

One of the finest horror movies ever made - 12 December 2005
When creepy movies starring children are mentioned, "The Innocents" is always wheeled out, and there is no injustice there. It is a great movie and widely acknowledged as such. unacknowledged is "The Other", a little seen movie, directed by Robert Mulligan ("To Kill A Mockingbird"), and released over three decades ago.

To give it its due, it is one of the finest horror movies every made, and also one of the most visually arresting. Robert Surtees, who shot close to seventy-five feature films in his amazing career, creates highly stylized compositions and uses a mixed bag of crazy tilts, subtle moves and striking low angles to construct the world of two twin boys who may or may not be responsible for a series of violent mishaps.

The Thomas Tryon novel, on which this is respectfully based, was also notable for its subtle horrors and dense psychological web, and director Mulligan (working with Tryon) maintains the novel's creepy, deceptively breezy tone.

Jerry Goldsmith's score is one of his very best, and contains many highly memorable cues that have resonated with me for years. The rural setting shares similarities with aspects of Roeg's "Wait Until Dark" and the lead performances by Chris and Martin Udvarnoky (as Niles and Holland Perry) are extraordinary. And Uta Hagen, as Ada, is mesmerizing.

As a study of suggestion and daylight dread, this powerful piece of celluloid has no equal.

Polanski directs The Waltons -  4 July 2000
This movie will sneak up and give you the spooks! From the very first shot, you start to feel creepy, and all you see is a kid playing in the woods. The power of the film is in the brilliant cinematography. the camera moves in a way to suggest, insinuate, something evil. Amazingly, not one drop of blood is shown in the entire film. But it is very disturbing. Some of the photography is also beautiful, the dandylion seeds. But the real power is in the camera movement, that makes you sense something lurking...camerawork is a very important part of the telling of this twisted tale, because the camera depicts certain complex psychological "realities". An astonishingly well-made film, if you're a Roman Polanski fan, this one is as good as Roman's best stuff. A pleasure to see such complex, subtle, well-made horror.

~~SHUDDER~~SHUDDER~~ - 29 February 2000
I saw this movie about 20 years or so ago it still haunts me to this day. I will never EVER forget it! It creeped me out so bad, and certain very disturbing images still come into my mind. I saw it back then, and will not ever want to see it again. If you want to be scared, or be haunted and are a fan of The Excorcist, Omen, etc I dare you to watch this movie. YOU'll never forget it! I don't care how long ago you have seen it, trust me it will stay with you!!

Wonderful, Scary, Creepy, Suspenseful and One heck of a Masterful GEM - 29 July 1999
This is one of those movies no one talks about - but if you've seen it once: it will never leave you. I saw it on the big screen as a teenager. I stayed in the theater and saw it again and then I returned the next day. Look, I am not nuts, this is one of the finest scary movies ever made. It is deceptively simple to look at. However, the cast and crew put together one fine and magical horror story.

If you miss this story, you've missed one of the quiet classics. It mixes fantasy with good story telling and is bound to leave you fascinated.

Uta Hagen gained my reverence after watching this movie. The Udvanorky Brothers did such an outstanding job: they practically carried this entire movie with a eclectic mix of childlike innocence and selfish evil that I just do not understand why they never made another movie again! This movie has made them a legend in my mind - they guide me back to the first time I saw this and I wasn't that much older than they were - that crossroads between wonderment and knowledge that stays with one for a lifetime.

This period horror piece should be lauded and respected and more - rediscovered or perhaps just discovered by the world and stand as a hallmark of fine film making and supernatural horror and mystery.

Still Creepy After All These Years - 28 November 2001
Like a lot of people here, I grew up with this movie. I believe that CBS started showing it in prime time as early as 1973. In any advent, they showed it a lot through the 70's, and I think I saw it every time. A lot of it made a huge impression on me as a kid: "Holland" performing the magic trick for his elderly neighbor, the kid jumping in the barn on the pitchfork (and the next cut is his casket being taken away), the circus freak show..... Most of all, director Robert Mulligan and company make the most benign setting (rural 1930s America) a scary place.

I just watched this again on AMC last night, and it holds up pretty well. Most people should see the twist coming, and the feel is distinctly early 70's California (in geography and look). However, this is miles above all those Exorcist ripoffs and 80's slasher films. See it!

The granddaddy of the Subtle Horror film - 26 September 2001
In the past several years a new film genre has arisen. I have dubbed it the "Subtle Horror Film". Basically what happens is that the film takes place in a somewhat ordinary setting, adding layer upon layer of menace in the plot, until it all reaches a fever pitch. It then usually culminates in a horrific plot twist that totally changes everything that has gone before. Some recent examples of this types of film are"The Sixth Sense" and "The Others"(similar title no less). I don't know if any of today's crop of filmmakers have seen Robert Mulligan's 1972 film "The Other" but they certainly owe alot to this landmark film. "The Other" is a film that I grew up with, so it may be hard to give it a fair critical evaluation. I originally saw the film on the CBS friday night movie sometime in 1977 while spending Friday night at my grandparents' house and even though I was only six years old at the time, I immediately knew that I somehow had struck cinematic gold. The film starts innocently enough and the first half hour plays like an episode of "Little House" or "The Waltons" and it basically follows the exploits of a pair of twins who seem to always be around when tragedy strikes on their Connecticut farm. But there's more than meets the eye here and to reveal any more of the plot here would be a real disservice. Suffice it to say that by the time film is over two things will have happened. 1)You will be disturbed. PERSONAL NOTE: It wasn't until viewing the film some fifteen years later that I fully understood the implications of what took place in the chilling final half of the film. (2) You will want to discuss this film with the first person you bump into who has seen it. This is a great film and for better or worse it (like a few other films) has truly helped to shape my likes and dislikes in films.

I must also make mention of the technical credits. Robert Surtees incredible camerawork is a bag of tricks unto itself. Jerry Goldsmith delivers an outstanding score and Tom Tryon wonderfully adapted his excellent 1971 bestseller into one of the best examples of how to faithfully translate a book to film. Last but not least, the great Robert Mulligan whose eerie staging of certain sequences should have earned him an oscar nomination. Unjustly forgotten when released in May 1972, do yourself a favor and see this horror classic.

* My favorite scene in The Other:

Uh Holland, where's the baby?

The Other at the IMDB

The Other at Wikipedia

Back to 200 Movies That Deserve More Love