26 October 2009

The Other

The Other by Thomas Tryon was Kat's choice for the bookclub's October creepy/horror novel month (Jackie's choice was Carrie, which I didn't re-read having read it in about 8th grade and scared the pants off myself).  I linked to the current trade paperback edition because there isn't a link for the edition I read - Kat got a ratty old mid-70s mass market edition and then passed it off to me (the binding glue was falling out in chunks and the pages were falling out).  That copy is pretty much unuseable now and will have to be consigned to the trash bin because I won't foist it off on the library sale in that condition.

The Other is a hard book to describe, other than a psychological horror novel, without giving too much away.  The main action of the novel concerns a set of identical twins - Holland and Niles - who may or may not do some pretty despicable things.  As in evil things.  Creepy, chilly, horror-novel-type things.  They also have a Russian maternal grandmother (who claims to have the sixth sense - alluded to as "the Game") and a mother suffering a major depressive episode over the mysterious death of their father.  The sections of the novel are narrated by a member of the community looking back on the past so there is a frame to the novel; handy since there's a point at which you wonder exactly what is going on here.  As with any good horror novel, I expected flinching and chills - Tryon delivered in spades.

Bookclub met the evening that readathon ended so (conveniently enough) I finished reading The Other as one of my last finished books during the readathon.  After a discussion of certain endpoints of the novel open to interpretation (which I really can't discuss here because that would sooooooo blow the plot of the novel and ruin the suspense) we settled in to watch Robert Mulligan's adaptation of the novel, The Other.  Tryon adapted, produced and wrote the screenplay for the movie which starred Uta Hagen as the grandmother and Diana Muldaur as the mother with Chris and Martin Udvarnoky as Holland and Niles (watch for a young John Ritter as the son-in-law).  The adaptation of the book to the screen is quite good, dispensing with the framing story (would have been too clunky) and removing a number of townsfolk to make the family more insular out at their farmhouse.  Tryon kept all the major scenes from the novel and it really was enjoyable to see a story told from beginning to end without major alterations for the movie (although I still cringe at two scenes even now - serious "ick" factor but not because it's gory).  A very good movie for a creepy time of year and one of the best book-to-screen adaptations I've ever seen.

The DVD treated us to several "previews", too, including The Hills Have Eyes and both versions of The Omen (the re-make must have been releasing at the time the DVD for The Other was, too).

Clear Off Your Shelves Challenge Count: 6/9

1 comment:

  1. I've never read the book but I saw the movie when it first came out (yes, I am that old) and it seriously creeped me out. I watched it again recently and it's still one of the most "horrible" of horror movies I've ever seen. And I think I know exactly which two ick-factor scenes you refer to. Don't think I could make it through the book.