Thursday, September 20, 2012

Night Child (1972)

Night Child

Written by Andrea Bianchi & Erich Krohnke
Directed by Andrea Bianchi & James Kelley

Elise...Britt Ekland
Marcus...Mark Lester
Paul...Hardy Kruger

Twelve year old Marcus arrives home from prep school a week early, due to an extreme outbreak of chicken pox. He meets his new stepmother Elise for the first time and instantly takes a liking to her. Too strong of a liking, actually, as he fondles her sexually from behind.

Working on a suspicion that Marcus wasn't being entirely truthful about the reason for his early return, Elise makes a visit to his headmaster and learns that Marcus was expelled for a number of instances of deviant behavior.

Well, no shit.

Marcus's father, the wealthy author Paul, won't listen to her, so she continues her investigations alone, uncovering damning and damaging information about the boy's true nature.

Elise doesn't necessarily act like you would expect a real person to. She doesn't seem to be too upset by the fact that her new stepson molested her a few short hours after their first meeting, and in fact later goes out of the way to towel dry his half-naked body when he gets out of the pool, seemingly encouraging his indecent attraction.

The other characters behave in similarly unbelievable ways, too. I'll forgive the strange behavior from Marcus (even if he's not altogether convincing as the dangerous savant), because without them we wouldn't have much of a movie, but his father seems equally prone to inappropriate touching. He caresses Elise's body while she's driving--and right in front of his son--almost causing a car accident that could have killed them all. But then again, maybe the old adage of 'like father, like son' is particularly fitting here.

The pacing is fairly slow at times, and the 95 minutes seems pretty padded. It is, at least, padded in part with sexiness and nudity, so I'm not complaining too much. Elise is portrayed by Britt Eckland, who genre fans will remember for her awkwardly-erotic pagan dance in the Wicker Man, and she is a real piece of art in and of herself. The musical score is composed mostly of suitably sultry synth-pop, just as one would expect from the era and area.

A rather obscure entry in the Evil Child category of films, this one is much less fun than most of the others, but also infinitely sleazier and wildly inappropriate. It exists under multiple names in multiple running times with some versions editing out the more "inappropriate" material, but the 95 minute version reviewed here seems to be the most complete cut available. The lead-up to the ending is trippy and nonsensical...I mean, open to interpretation, and the finale a twisted gasper.

Warning: Watching Night Child will leave you as uncomfortable as it does unfulfilled.

Rated R
95 Minutes
Spain/UK/Italy/USA/West Germany

ALSO KNOWN AS: Night Hair Child; What the Peeper Saw;

"You're mysterious this afternoon."

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