The Night Child - on DVD Featured

Monday, 29 October 2012 15:38 Written by 

The Night Child comes to DVD“The Night Child” (aka “The Cursed Medallion”) is a 1970s Italian horror movie in a similar vein to “The Exorcist” and “The Omen”. Michael Williams (Richard Johnson – “Zombie Flesh Eaters”, “The Haunting”) is documentarian working for the BBC. His current project covers satanic art, and the keystone is a disturbing painting by an unknown artist that he travels to Italy to research with his daughter Emily and Jill, her nanny. And now you have a chance to win one of three copies (as well as a copy of "Super Bitch") in our prize competition.

Michael’s wife died in horrific circumstances, and Emily (Nicoletta Elmi – “Demons”) still suffers from nightmares about it. The nanny (Ida Galli) has a crush on Michael, and neither of them approve of his attraction to Joanna (Joanna Cassidy – “Blade Runner”, Six Feet Under), his glamorous producer. As the truth behind the painting is uncovered, Emily’s behaviour grows more erratic. The local countess (Lila Kedrova – “Torn Curtain”) urges them to leave but dark forces intervene.

Directed by Massimo Dallamano (director of photography on “A Few Dollars More” and “A Fistful of Dollars”), this movie is an Italian shocker with a more subtle and less bloody approach than the Giallo gorefests associated with the likes of Dario Argento. The story builds slowly but surely, building tension towards its demonic climax. Although you know it is unlikely to end well for all concerned, the atmosphere is typically less dark and ominous than the devilish duo of films mentioned at the top of my review.

There is a lightness of touch which, along with the often jolly music and the love affair between Michael and Joanna, helps to give the film a lot of warmth. The autumnal Italian landscapes and the stunning old town of Spoleto make the movie a visual treat, even on good old DVD.

The demonic aspects of the movie are not heaped onto the viewer as heavily as they might be, though the editing does sometimes jar slightly when the film cuts suddenly to one of Emily’s visions of villagers brandishing pitchforks, hounding someone who looks very much like her, or we catch close-up flashes of detail from the shadowy painting.

The acting is generally naturalistic, but Elmi does come across as a bit limited and sometimes struggles to convey the range of emotions her character goes through. Johnson, Cassidy and Kedrova are excellent, with Johnson in particular carrying off the rational, disbelieving scholar with panache.

In summary, this is a very watchable horror movie that looks great and has an intriguing plot. The suspense is not as unbearable as in some of the genre greats, but the charming characters go some way to making up for that. Fans of nasty, graphic films with high body counts should look elsewhere, but everyone else will doubtless enjoy it.

The special features include:

  • New widescreen transfer in the original ratio
  • Newly translated optional English subtitles
  • Optional English and Italian audio tracks
  • EXORCISM ITALIAN-STYLE: Author and critic Paolo Zelati, filmmaker Luigi Cozzi and screenwriter Antonio Tentori reflect on the brief boom in pasta-possession movies which rushed out of Rome in the wake of William Friedkin's classic “The Exorcist” (13 mins)
  • Original Italian and US trailers
  • Collectors’ booklet featuring new writing on the film by author and critic Calum Waddell
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys

The visual transfer may be commendable, but the audio is a little fuzzy and soft.

“The Night Child” (1975) is out now, courtesy of Arrow Video. The film has a running time of 88 minutes approx, carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £15.99, or less from

If you would like to win one of three copies of "The Night Child", as well as a copy of "Super Bitch" starring Stephanie Beacham, please click here.

Last modified on Monday, 05 November 2012 16:26

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