DIRECTOR Massimo Dallamano WRITER Massimo Dallamano; Franco Marotta; Laura Toscano STARS Richard Johnson; Joanna Cassidy; Ida Galli DVD Now
As the epitome of seventies B-movie charm, The Night Child boasts the strong elements of enjoyable kitsch that one would hope for: a psychic countess; a cursed medallion (large and pentagram-embossed, naturally); demonic paintings; apparitions of vengeful mobs; and even a tarot scene where — guess what? — the Death card is produced!
A young girl is traumatised, understandably, by watching her mother burn to death, and it is through this focus that the main arcs flow. Her father undertakes a commission by the BBC to make a documentary in Europe. Here he becomes fixated by a diabolic painting and picks up the obligatory love interest. Strange goings on begin to manifest, and the occasional mysterious death keeps things moving along.
It’s reasonably standard stuff, but engaging enough. There are hints of giallo with the element of mystery coming more to the fore as the film progresses and the occasional death scenes are very much of this style. The cinematography is typical; with lingering shots and close-ups for emphasis it feels very familiar — as does the soundtrack which must be identical to every other film of this genre and era. But, overall, the film lacks edge. It feels more like a supernatural drama than a horror film and viewers who expect the exploitative Eurohorror promised by the cover art will be disappointed.
This Arrow Films version is a fine widescreen picture transfer and looks sharp, but the sound is disappointing. Extras on the single disc include “Exorcism Italian Style”, a discussion on the post-Exorcist Italian possession movies; original trailers; artwork; and booklet.