The Night Child

After the softcore-thriller world of Super Bitch, director Massimo Dallamano went on to dabble in the dark world of Satanism and demonic possession with The Night Child – Italy’s answer to The Exorcist (though you won’t see child star Nicoletta Elmi vomiting pea soup).

When English historian Michael Williams (Richard Johnson) is preparing a TV-documentary on satanic art, which takes him to Italy as part of his research. He is accompanied by his assistant Jill (Ida Galli) and his little daughter Emily (N. Elmi), a disturbed child who seems plagued by nightmarish visions and emotional instability following the horrific death of her mother in a house fire.

In the Italian town of Spoleto, Emily’s visions increase, as does her bizarre behaviour. A medallion that Emily wears around her neck seems to be connected to a sinister painting unearthed by her father. In the painting, a young girl seemingly wears the same cursed medallion and is possessed by the devil… Soon after the discovery of the painting, life imitates art when Emily displays erratic and violent outbursts and some mysterious deaths occur.

Meanwhile, local Contessa Capelli (the brilliant Lila Kedrova) urges Mr. Williams to leave the place and not come back. A little later, he is joined by the attractive Joanna Morgan (Joanna Cassidy), his production manager. Forever positive thinking, she tries to persuade Williams that there is nothing to the myth surrounding the cursed painting. Unfortunately, she is wrong…

The original Italian title of the movie translates as The Cursed Medallion, which is much more to the point as The Night Child. While the performances (especially that of Nicoletta Emi) are strong and the visuals are stunning, the plot as such is not always coherent. Like with so many Italian horror movies, The Night Child is a prime example of style over substance. Also, it has more of a gothic supernatural quality to it rather than the unsettling realism of exorcism and satanic possession.
Dominated by haunting cinematography, the film is a slice of Italian B-movie horror that collectors of this genre will want to add to their stack.