Hot on the heels of The Exorcist (1974) followed the Italian love for a particular brand of Euro-horror, often known as the pasta-possession movies, of which The Night Child is a perfect example. These films were beautifully and slickly shot for all the ridiculous goings on within them, present is director Massimo Dallamano’s love for Friedkin’s film and a talent that has made him the Italian exploitation master of b-movie cinema. Arrow Video is releasing some of Dallamano’s back catalogue and it will give many viewers the chance to experience these works for the first time. Although they is a sort of shabbiness to the now dated mode, The Night Child’s world of satanic art has a touch of The Omen about it, it may seem slightly tired now but it is certainly still capable offering a thrill and will be a must own for horror fans.
Take some advice, get used to dubbed sound quickly, otherwise you will have to perform an exorcism of the DVD from the player. Couple that with the off the time but somewhat cheesy music and the sound gets the film off to a bad start. This is all quickly forgotten as Dallamano begins his creepy exploration of one family and their relationship with demonic possession.
Young Emily (Nicoletta Elmi) has lost her mother in a tragic fire accident and has been struggling with psychological trauma ever since. Her father Michael (Richard Johnson) is a documentary maker who is currently exploring the world of satanic art, which turns out to be a rather conspicuous choice as his daughter is suffering from more than just post traumatic stress.
The creepy world of demonic art is a perfect setting and Dallamano uses striking cutaway images of pain, torture and historical reference to embellish his chilling tale. The possession of the young girl is intense and duly eerie characters surround the girl and her father as they descend into a dearth of devilish disasters. There is a joy amidst the passion for horror present in the work of Dallamano, so of course it is hard to believe the terrified Contessa Cappelli (Lila Kedrova) as she exclaims “I’m not in the habit of frightening people, I don’t get much pleasure out of it.”
Extras: The DVD is filled with some superb extras. Exorcism Italion Style; Paolo Zelati, Luigi Cozzi and Antonio Tentori reflect on the brief boom period of Italian Exorcism movies. In addition there is a collectors booklet and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys.
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The Night Child is availabe on DVD now courtesy of Arrow Video