Daily Horror Naughty Johns

The Other

October 28, 2015

This is a guest post from Melissa Morgan, who’s probably putting the fucking lotion in the basket right now.

“Niles and Holland are as close as twin brothers can be. Appearances can be deceiving… and deadly.” ~The Other (1972)

This is the 28th of 31 posts in a row on horror movies. Yup, it’s October, baby.

IMDB Summary: Down in the farm country of the US twins are born. One of them turns out to be good, while the other becomes rather evil.

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 88%

OK, I admit it. I totally got behind. But it gave me a good excuse to get my fellow horror-loving friend Melissa to whip up something awesome about whatever movie she wanted.

What do you get when you combine esteemed actor (and later on revered acting coach) Uta Hagen, Diana Muldaur, John Ritter in one of his first acting roles and two twins, one of whom may or may not be a sociopath? You get 1972’s The Other.

Released to modest box office success in 1972, it became relegated to TV showings back when it wasn’t buried in the huge glut of stations and streaming offerings like today. I was lucky enough to catch it on several  horror night showings in the late 70’s as a youngster. 

Being a kid, until this influential film I was under the misconception that kids were inherently good. Not so much. I swear this film made me feel better about myself. At least I hadn’t (and I am giving away nothing by saying this) cut off a deceased relative’s finger to retrieve a ring, scared a neighbor (who had a heart condition) to death with a magic trick, perhaps pushed another relative down a flight of stairs leaving them permanently disabled and maybe put an infant in a mason jar like so many of last season’s perserves.

Ada, the twins granny, is special. Like, she thinks she’s magic kind of special. She teaches the twins “the game,” where they are able to transmogrify into other objects and fly, for instance. She realizes too late that she has created a monster(s). If only the twins would have used their powers for good and not evil. But then we wouldn’t have such a kick ass movie!

The fact that the story is set in idyllic 1935 makes it more haunting. No modernism to relate to. Thinking this may have happened where the bucolic Waltons grew up is even more creepy.

Throw in the Lindburgh baby kidnapping references, twists you aren’t sure are real or imagined, tragedies in the apple cellar and a barn fire and you got yourself a scary story that sticks with you. At least it did with me.

Among the film’s admirers was Roger Ebert, who wrote in his review “[the film] has been criticized in some quarters because Mulligan (the director) made it too beautiful, they say, and too nostalgic. Not at all. His colors are rich and deep and dark, chocolatey browns and bloody reds; they aren’t beautiful but perverse and menacing. And the farm isn’t seen with a warm nostalgia, but with a remembrance that it is haunted.”

Ebert later referred to the film as a “masterpiece.” I agree all of these years later. The dialogue, the situations and the weirdness factor remains with me. Maybe that is the definition of a masterpiece.

Like the original film poster says…”Don’t Reveal the SECRET of THE OTHER!”

Next: The Exorcist

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