Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 4th, 2011
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: September 7th, 2010
Approximate running time: 89 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Code Red
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98
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.
Code Red presents The Night Child in an anamorphic widescreen that retains the film’s original aspect ratio. This Hi-def sourced transfer looks very good, as colors look nicely saturated and at times vibrant, details look crisp and there are no problems with compression. It should be noted that there are some very mild instances of print debris and edge enhancement while present, it is never too intrusive.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. Though there is background noise that varies in degree throughout, dialog comes through clearly enough to follow.
Extras for this release include American theatrical trailer for the film and a seven minute interview with Richard Johnson titled ‘An Englishman in Italy’. This interview has previously appeared on Code Red’s Beyond the Door DVD release. Topics discussed during the Richard Johnson interview include, his work with Lucio Fulci, Sergio Martino and Damiano Damiani. He also talks about how he helped re-write the dialog for many of the Italian films that he worked on. Rounding out the extras for this release are trailers for Family Honor, The Carrier, Horror High, Slithis and Light Blast. Also it should be noted that this release is part of Code Red’s Septic Cinema line (a head emerging out of a toilet menu design) and at the end of the man feature some random footage from the film is looped, before the transition back to the main menu. Overall The Night Child gets a good audio / video presentation from Code Red.