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Scarecrow on Seattle: CHILD OF THE NIGHT

For the past few years, Scarecrow Video has been contributing reviews of movies made in the Pacific Northwest to the Seattle Office of Film + Music's e-newsletter. We're now proud to be able to share these reviews on our site as well.

 

 

 

 

 


Child in the Night (1990)

What the hell? This is the second movie in a week I've watched that featured scenes in the late lamented Buckaroo Tavern. Every time I pass by the vacant Fremont Avenue storefront I can't help misting up a little, and now this. Curse you Hollywood for reminding me about another lost Seattle institution! But I digress. Child in the Night is a made-for-TV movie starring a young Elijah Wood (in his first major performance) as an eight-year-old named Luke. His dad runs a boat construction company called Winfield and Sons that is located by Lake Union near the intersection of Fairview and East Garfield Street. The poor kid witnesses a killer with a cargo hook murder his father on the docks near the warehouse.

Local boy Tom Skerritt portrays a police detective named Bass who has a hard time finding any leads on the mysterious, rain slicker-clad killer. Luke is understandably traumatized by the experience and has blocked out any recollection of the horrific crime. JoBeth Williams plays a child psychologist named Dr. Hollis who is called in to help with the disturbed youth. The only way Luke is able to recall the events is as a nightmarish variation on Peter Pan-in his dark fantasy, he is Peter Pan and the hook-wielding killer is, of course, Captain Hook. Luke draws pictures and relates stories to the doctor but the pirate captain's face always remains obscured. As a bond grows between Luke and Dr. Hollis, a romantic spark ignites between her and Detective Bass. Their first date is a casual cheeseburger lunch at the aforementioned Buckaroo. Bass says, "Buckaroo's has the best burgers and fries in Seattle." I don't remember seeing any food there besides bar snacks and I certainly don't think anybody was going there specifically for cheeseburgers, but I should get off of my Buckaroo reminiscing and get back to this review.

For their second date, Bass takes Dr. Hollis out for dinner on a police boat and they putter around Lake Union. I imagine the police department and local taxpayers would not approve of using a police boat for a romantic rendezvous, but the pair does talk a little bit about the case amidst bouts of flirty banter. Bass encourages the shrink to put the pressure on Luke in order to break through the Peter Pan wall before the cargo hook killer strikes again...or are they already too late? Rent Child in the Night to find out, and as a bonus you'll also get to see lots of the city. There are numerous scenes shot all over town, but the film tends to focus on Lake Union. Aside from the murder and the boat date, other lake locales include a houseboat that Bass calls home (I swear it's the same one used in Sleepless in Seattle) and a sailboat owned by Luke's grandpa (portrayed by the great Darren McGavin) that is moored near Gas Works Park. McGavin starred in another Seattle based made-for-TV movie, The Night Strangler, which I previously reviewed for this column. Child of the Night is not available on DVD but your friends here at Scarecrow Video have a copy on VHS. The amusing vintage videotape cover features a blood-dripping hook, yet a quote on the box boldly asserts that Child of the Night is a "non-violent mystery thriller."

-Spenser Hoyt

 

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