THE OTHER (1972)
Director: Robert Mulligan
20th Century Fox

Based on the novel of the same name by actor-turned-writer Tom Tryon (he was the husband in 1958’s I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE), THE OTHER was released in 1972 as a subtle, creepy Americana gothic thriller with competent direction by veteran Robert Mulligan (TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, SUMMER OF ’42). A critical success upon release which also became a fan favorite, the film has been in demand on DVD for some time, and Fox has now remastered it for the format and it surely looks better than ever before.

Set in rural Connecticut during the 1930s, THE OTHER tells of two nine-year old twin brothers, Niles and Holland Perry (played by real life twins Chris and Martin Udvarnoky) who live with their extended family on a farm. Niles is seemingly the good-natured one, while Holland is rotten to the core, always playing macabre pranks which often result in “accidents” which include the violent deaths of some relatives and neighbors. The boys’ mother (Diana Muldaur) is reclusive after their father’s fatal accident, and they are nurtured by their Russian immigrant grandmother (Uta Hagen), who eventually discovers their dark secret.

With an array of familiar TV character actors on hand, THE OTHER looks like an episode of “The Waltons” on the outset, but once the viewer gets wrapped up in it, it’s a chilling, disturbing tale of abnormal, criminal child behavior in the vein THE BAD SEED. The depression era setting suitably fits a timless effort about sweet-looking kids in a small town who nobody would ever suspect of being responsible for such atrocities as removing a ringed finger from a corpse, a child falling to his death on a pitchfork, or drowning a baby in a wooden jar. Similar psychological horror films which followed have brightened our senses enough to realize the twist before its revealed, but it actually makes us more inquisitive as to what terrible things will happen next, leading to a rather abrupt but ambiguous and haunting ending.

Chris and Martin Udvarnoky, who are never seen in a frame of film together, play their parts quite naturally and hold the movie together well, despite having no prior acting experience (they didn’t pursuit a career in the field and didn’t appear in any other films). Legendary German-born acting teacher Uta Hagen (in her feature film debut) is outstanding as the grandmother, and Victor French (a long-time TV partner of Michael Landon) and a very young John Ritter are present in smaller roles. Look closely for Angelo Rossitto who makes a quick uncredited cameo as a sideshow dwarf. Robert Surtees provides some very picturesque cinematography and Jerry Goldsmith gives us another memorable music score.

Fox presents THE OTHER in its original 1.85:1 theatrical ratio with anamorphic enhancement. The transfer looks simply wonderful – picture detail is sharp, colors are vivid and distinct (the blue skies really stand out), and there’s not a hint of grain or any blemishes to be found. The English audio track is playable in either stereo or mono, with dialogue coming through crisp and clear with no pops or hiss. Spanish and French language mono tracks are also included, as well as optional English and Spanish subtitles. Extras are the original theatrical trailer, as well as recommendations and trailers for other Fox DVD titles. (George R. Reis)