THE PSYCHIC aka SEVEN NOTES IN BLACK (1977) Reviews and Blu-ray news

 

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‘Suddenly she could see into the future… and saw her own murder…’

The Psychic is a 1977 Italian mystery film about a clairvoyant woman who discovers a skeleton in a wall in an old villa owned by her husband. Becoming obsessed, she tries to find the truth about what happened to the twenty-five-year-old female victim. Also known as Seven Notes in Black and Murder to the Tune of the Seven Black Notes

Directed by Lucio Fulci (House By the Cemetery; The Beyond; The Black Cat; Zombie Flesh Eaters) from a story and screenplay co-written with Roberto Gianviti and Dardano Sacchetti. Produced [uncredited] by Franco Cuccu. The soundtrack score was composed by Franco Bixio, Fabio Frizzi and Vince Tempera.

The Cinecompany production stars Jennifer O’Neill, Gabriele Ferzetti, Marc Porel, Gianni Garko, Evelyn Stewart and Jenny Tamburi.

New Blu-ray release:

In the UK, Shameless will release The Psychic on Blu-ray on August 9, 2021.

Touching Fate: A new exclusive interview of Antonella Fulci about ‘The Psychic’
Daddy Dearest: An interview with Antonella Fulci about her father Lucio Fulci
The restoration process for The Psychic – showing different stages
Escape from Doom: An interview with writer Dardano Sacchetti on working with Fulci
Behind the Wall: An interview with Fabio Frizzi on scoring The Psychic (the music later used by Tarantino)

Plot:

In October 1959, in Dover, England, a woman commits suicide by leaping from a cliff. At the same time, her daughter Virginia, living in Florence, Italy, sees her mother’s death in a vision.

In the present day, an adult Virginia (Jennifer O’Neill) lives near Rome, Italy and has married a rich Italian businessman Francesco Ducci (Gianni Garko). Ducci leaves on a business trip, and as Virginia drives herself away from the airport after seeing him off, experiences more visions: she sees an old woman murdered, a wall being torn down and a letter hidden beneath a statue.

Virginia plans to renovate an abandoned mansion her husband has purchased but notices that the building resembles one she has seen in her visions. She tears down a wall in one room, finding a skeleton behind the plaster. Assuming the skeleton is that of the woman in her vision, Virginia contacts the police; however, they do not believe her story and charge Ducci with the killing…

Reviews:

“Fulci called this film mechanical, correctly alluding to the closed nature of the narrative. For all its pleasures The Psychic keeps its audience at bay with a highly selective, manipulative disclosure of information. We may think our ability to guess the villain’s identity makes us active participants in the diegetic process, but we are in fact kept very much in the dark about salient features of the plot. […] Despite such restrictions, however, this elegantly constructed murder mystery confirms Fulci as a director of skill and sophistication, more than able to deal with complex narratives…” Stephen Thrower, Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci, FAB Press, 2018 (revised expanded edition)

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“It builds its story from disparate elements and said story remains unambiguous despite the ambiguity upon which it’s constructed […] The most ludicrous visual we get is of a dummy having its plastic head bashed repeatedly off a cliffside. The film’s weakest point, ironically enough, is O’Neill.” The Gentlemen’s Blog to Midnite Cinema

” …an extremely well-made effort in which the director manages to restrain himself considerably in terms of brutality and blood, yet still come up with something which is very chilling and even downright harrowing in its final act. It’s probably a film that many critics would praise very highly if it were better known and not from a director chiefly associated with gruesome horror movies.” Horror Cult Films

“In Fulci’s hands, the film is slow and dull. He characteristically has little interest in plot and the film plods along at an indifferent pace – it takes Jennifer O’Neill more than half the film to work out that she is having a vision of something that has yet to happen rather than of the past, for instance. Everything arrives at an abrupt and downbeat ending that the film has borrowed from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat (1843).” Moria

“With a moody score by Fulci regular Fabio Frizzi and some beautiful framing by Fulci’s go-to cameraman Sergio Salvati, The Psychic makes for a dreamlike sensory experience. But unlike many Italian genre movies of the period, The Psychic is a rarity in boasting a plot that actually makes sense and is easy to keep track of.” The Movie Waffler

The Psychic is an amazing film from maestro, Lucio Fulci. I can’t think of another giallo quite like it and although it’s not up to the standards of a Lizard in a Woman’s Skin or Tenebre, it still conjures up copious amounts of mystery and suspense. […]. There’s so much exposition that the film inevitably shows a lack of characterization, but giallo fans surely won’t mind that whatsoever.” Oh, the Horror!

The image of striking past the surface layers of a room are easy to comprehend (if no less effective) metaphors for the need for characters to tear down or look past the walls of perception […] Jennifer O’Neill at first appears wooden in her performance but this sense of aloof self-interest is organic to the character…” SGM

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“The only downside is the lack of bodily destruction might turn the “Fulci gorehounds” off. The cinematography is outstanding, probably some of Fulci’s best. Fans of Lizard in a Woman’s Skin will greatly enjoy this, but like I said, I doubt the more gore hungry viewers will be entertained. As for me, I found it to be a little long and drawn out, but it kept my interest the whole time.” Sins of Cinema

“Despite Fulci’s criticism that it suffers from a mechanical narrative, the story and structure of the film is immensely satisfying. The use of fragmented visions assailing the heroine harkens back to the traumatic event that haunts the deranged killer in Mario Bava’s Hatchet for the Honeymoon (1970), and Fulci’s stylistic use of sharp zoom-ins to her eyes conveys a sense of entering into the character’s frame-of-mind.” Troy Howarth, Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films, Midnight Marquee Press, 2015

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“Bewilderment, fortitude, courage and when the script demands, extreme fright: O’Neill meets each challenge, turning her emotions on and off like a tap and when those visions and flashbacks occur, it’s almost as if a gun had gone off directly behind her. The script – a collaboration between Fulci, Roberto Gianviti and Dardano Sacchetti – must have been a joy to work with…” The Spinning Image

“More of a mystery-thriller (and quite restrained for goremeister Lucio), there are some neat twists in this modest (and surprisingly coherent) effort.” The Terror Trap

“Visually, the film uses some great locations to their best advantage and the slow pace results in a foreboding tone that makes everything (and everyone) seem a little more sinister. There is a great score that repeats throughout the film and reveals itself at all the right moments. I am not used to seeing Fulci focus so much on plot and characters in a movie…” The Video Graveyard

Choice dialogue:

Francesco Ducci: “Darling, why don’t you forget this ugly story?”

Gloria Ducci: “I’ve had fifty-six lovers and haven’t killed even one of them.”

Virginia Ducci: “Would you, just for once, shut your spoiled foul mouth?”

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Cast and characters:

Jennifer O’Neill … Virginia Ducci
Gabriele Ferzetti … Emilio Rospini
Marc Porel … Luca Fattori
Gianni Garko … Francesco Ducci
Evelyn Stewart … Gloria Ducci
Jenny Tamburi … Bruna
Fabrizio Jovine … Commissioner D’Elia
Riccardo Parisio Perrotti … Melli
Loredana Savelli … Giovanna Rospini
Salvatore Puntillo … Second Cab Driver
Bruno Corazzari … Canevari
Vito Passeri … Caretaker
Franco Angrisano … First Cab Driver (as Francesco Angrisano)
Veronica Michielini … Giuliana Casati
Paolo Pacino … Inspector Russi
Fausta Avelli … Virginia as a Girl
Elizabeth Turner … Virginia’s Mother
Ugo D’Alessio … Art Gallery Owner
Luigi Diberti … Judge

Technical details:

97 minutes
Telecolor
Audio: Mono
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1

Fun facts:

The Tamil-language Indian film Nooravathu Naal (1984) is apparently an unofficial remake. Nooravathu Naal was then remade twice, as Aayiram Kannukal (1986) and 100 Days (1991).

In the early 1990s, American filmmaker Quentin Tarantino announced that he would be directing a remake with Bridget Fonda in the lead role. The project failed to come to fruition, however, Tarantino later used the titular seven-note theme song in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003).

Trailer: