Written by: Michael Den Boer on November 8th, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1975
Director: Massimo Dallamano
Writers: Massimo Dallamano, Franco Marotta, Laura Toscano
Cast: Richard Johnson, Joanna Cassidy, Ida Galli, Nicoletta Elmi, Edmund Purdom, Riccardo Garrone, Dana Ghia, Eleonora Morana, Lila Kedrova
DVD released: October 29th, 2012
Approximate running time: 88 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono Italian
DVD Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region 0 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £15.99
Synopsis: A young girl becomes possessed, after a receiving a medallion that once belong to her mother.
The Night Child was co-written and directed Massimo Dallamano, who would only direct a total of twelve films before his untimely death at the age of fifty nine. His most notable films as a director include What Have You Done to Solange? and What Have They Done to Your Daughters? Before making the transition to directing, Massimo Dallamano was one of the most in demand cinematographers. Some of his more notable films as a cinematographer included Gunfight at Red Sands, A Fistful of Dollars, Bullets Don’t Argue and For a Few Dollars More.
The cinematographer on The Night Child was Franco Delli Colli, who’s other notable films as a cinematographer include What Have They Done to Your Daughters?, Strip Nude for Your Killer and Hanna D.: The Girl from Vondel Park. The score for The Night Child was composed by Stelvio Cipriani, who’s other notable scores include The Frightened Woman, The Lickerish Quartet, Rabid Dogs and What Have They Done to Your Daughters?
Throughout the 1970’s, there would be an influx of films in the U.S. and abroad that borrow many of the key elements that which made The Exorcist so successful. While film’s like Abby in the U.S. would quickly fade away into obscurity, a handful of Italian demonic themed films like The Antichrist and Beyond the Door have continued to find an audience all these years later. And in many instances, why these Italian Exorcist clones have fared better than those from other countries. Is that they many of them strive to be something more than a unimaginative mimic made for a quick buck. Some of the more notable that fall into this latter category include Damned in Venice and The Night Child (also known under the title The Cursed Medallion).
First off, to merely sum up The Night Child as a horror film would being this film a great disservice. For there really is nothing that is horrific and when a death occurs it is devoid of gore. Content wise, The Night Child is more in line with the Gothic horror films that Riccardo Freda and Mario Bava directed in the late 1950’s and 1960’s.
And while The Night Child does a superb job setting the mood with its atmospheric visuals. It is not a film without its fare share of flaws. With the meandering opening set up and lethargic middle act severely crippling any chance of sustaining any momentum. It is not until this film’s final act that things really start to click on cylinders.
The reason why many of the performances don’t quite gel, can be firmly placed on the lack of depth in the characters being portrayed. The actors are only given so much to work with and the result is at times underwhelming. With the only performance leaving any lasting impression being Nicoletta Elmi (Bay of Blood, Deep Red) in the role of Emily Williams, the young girl who has become possessed. Though her character has very little in the way of dialog, she conveys a wealth of information through her expressions.
Arrow Video presents The Night Child in an anamorphic widescreen that retains the film’s original aspect ratio. The Night Child has had at least two other DVD release, the first one 01 Distribution in Italy and the second release via Code Red in North America. Of these two releases Arrow Video’s looks similar to the source that 01 Distribution used.
Besides using a different source for their transfer. This is not the only area in which this release differs from the aforementioned DVD release from Code Red. Each release employs different titles sequences, some of the music cues and sounds effects are different and each features footage that is exclusive to each release. Also there are a handful of instances where scenes appear in a different order on the Arrow Video release then they do on the Code Red release.
This release comes with two audio options, a Dolby Digital mono mix in English and a Dolby Digital mono mix in Italian. Of these two audio mixes the Italian language track fares slightly better. There are some noticeable instances of distortion during the English language track. Both of these audio mixes have background noise that varies in degree throughout. Range wise though limited dialog always comes through clearly enough on both of these audio mixes. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles, which appear to be a direct translation of the Italian language track and not ‘dub titles’.
Extras for this release include the U.S. trailer for the film (1 minute 55 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a Italian language trailer with English subtitles (2 minutes 23 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and a featurette titled ‘Exorcism Italian-Style’ (12 minutes 43 seconds – anamorphic widescreen – in Italian and English with English subtitles) that includes comments from director Luigi Cozzi, screenwriter Antonio Tentori, and critic Paolo Zelati. There comments give a well rounded overview of the genre. Rounding out the extras for this release is a reversible cover art and a collectable booklet with liner notes that contains an essay about director Massimo Dallamano and a visual comparison between the English and Italian title sequences. Overall The Night Child gets a first rate release from Arrow Video.