When Hollywood leading man Tom Tryon (I Married A Monster from Outer Space, The Cardinal) realised the roles were drying up, he decided to write a book. That book, The Other, was a gothic psychological horror that took readers deeply and convincingly into the mind of disturbed children and when it was published it became quite a phenomenon. Soon afterwards, film director Robert Mulligan (To Kill a Mockingbird) decided The Other would be his next project and Tryon set about writing a screenplay he had originally hoped to direct himself. There were some significant differences between the novel and the script but ultimately The Other was as unsettling on film as it was on the page.

The Other is set within a close-knit farming community in depression-era Connecticut where a tragic accident has resulted in the death of a beloved father. The widow and grieving mother (Diana Muldaur) is inconsolable and has pretty much confined herself to her bedroom, leaving nine-year-old Niles and twin brother Holland in the care of his grandmother (Uta Hagen) who dotes upon Niles and tries to encourage his psychic abilities and belief in angels. What she doesn’t realise is that Niles has more on his mind and, when more deaths occur, it becomes slowly obvious that he might have something to do with them.

To give away more would be to spoil a wonderful film – there are, in particular, two fantastically eerie setpieces in The Other that should not be missed, one of them especially disturbing. Perhaps it’s Robert Surges extraordinary cinematography that gives the horror its edge – most of the scenes are untraditionally shot in brightest daylight – but Mulligan’s direction is a model of restraint, Tom Tryon’s script has some beautifully sincere moments (especially in the scenes between Niles and his grandmother) and all the performances are first rate. Uta Hagen, the legendary theatre actress who made her cinematic debut in The Other, is wonderful. Jerry Goldsmith, fresh from composing the Patton soundtrack, also contributes a touching and emotional sore.

As for Tom Tryon, he had mixed opinions about the finished product. He thought the film was badly cut and faultily directed and that some of the supporting performances were sub-par, although he praised Uta Hagen and Chris and Martin Udvarnoky as the twins. A prolific author, he is probably best remembered for his follow-up novel Harvest Home, a horrifying story about pagan rites in a small farming community which I’ve always believed might have had an undisclosed influence on Anthony Shaffer’s screenplay for The Wicker Man. Harvest Home was eventually adapted into a television miniseries – The Dark Secret of Harvest Home – with Bette Davis in the lead. If you can track it down it’s worth a look.

But back to The Other: as usual, the Eureka / Masters of Cinema presentation is fantastic. The transfer is stunning, the colours are true, the audio is pin-sharp. I didn’t notice any blemishes in the source print. The disc includes the original theatrical trailer and is accompanied by a 24 page booklet with new writing on the film.

Highly recommended

Blu-Ray Review: The Other
5.0Overall Score
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About The Author

Ian White is an author, screenwriter and journalist. His book ‘Witchcraft and Black Magic in British Cult Cinema’ was recently published by Hemlock and he is a regular contributor to ‘Paranormal Underground’ and ‘Starburst’ magazines. He’s currently writing a new book and screenplay and his embarrassingly out-of-date website can be found at http://ianwhitelondon.wix.com/ian-white