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Psychic, The

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    Ian Jane
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  • Psychic, The

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    Released by: Severin Films
    Relased on: 11/13/2007
    Director: Lucio Fulci
    Cast: Jennifer O'Neill, Gianni Garko
    Year: 1979
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    The Movie:

    Better known outside of North America as Seven Notes In Black, Lucio Fulci's The Psychic is the last giallo he'd direct before trying his hand at zombie films, slashers and other genre movies. The film starts with a bang as a woman falls off of a cliff and smashes her head on the rocks on the way down. Cut to a few years in the future and the woman's daughter, Virginia Ducci (Jennifer O'Neill), is driving through the country to her husband, Francesco Ducci (Gianni Garko), and their manor. When she passes through a tunnel she a vision of a dead woman buried behind the wall and a few other ominous signs like a broken mirror and a red light. Later Virginia finds the wall she saw in her vision and when she breaks it open, she finds a corpse.

    A detective named Luca Fattori (Marc Porel) is called in to investigate and Virginia explains what happened but Luca is understandably skeptical. Soon, Virigina has another vision, this time it's a wristwatch that plays a melody of seven notes. A few days later, this same watch is given to Virginia as a gift. It's at this point that Virginia realizes she's seeing visions of the future and this may mean that there's another corpse out there to find, and that the corpse may very well be her own.

    While The Psychic doesn't come anywhere close to the sublime psychedelic heights of Lizard In A Woman's Skin or Perversion Story, it is never the less a fun thriller with a few interesting twists. The middle part of the film is a little bit on the slow side but even during these less inspired moments the picture manages to remain interesting. The picture is stylish from start to finish and there's plenty of wonderfully thick atmosphere that lend the film a noticeably more gothic touch than we're used to seeing in giallos of the era in which this film was made. That said, it's the bookend of the film, the fantastic introductory suicide scene and the grand finale where it's all wrapped up, that impress. The last half hour of the film really ramp up the pace and make the slow burn of the mid-part pay off in spades.

    Jennifer O'Neill makes for a decent enough heroine and Marc Porel a solid leading man. Their performances are stronger than average (with O'Neill having obviously spoken her lines in English and provided her own dubbing) and they're well cast in their respective parts. The score is interesting even if at times it borders on disco, and observent viewers will recognize parts of the music that were pilferred by Tarantino for use in the first part of Kill Bill. Fulci's regular cinematographer from the time, Sergio Salvati, shot the film and it looks as good as anything else from Fulci's seventies period. The classy locations look great and the lighting keeps the mood tense. Some of the special effects haven't aged fairly well (the opening suicide uses what is obviously a mannequin) but aside from that, The Psychic remains an interesting and very well made thriller that proves Fulci could do smart horror just as well as he could do flesh eating mayhem.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Severin presents The Psychic in a 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that is unfortunately not properly flagged for progressive scan playback. Aside from that, the image is pretty decent with a nice, clean picture that's free of any major dirt or debris and strong color reproduction. There is some shimmering in spots and the image is far from perfect but there's a fair amount of visible detail present even if some of the darker scenes are a tad murky and there is some minor motion blurring at times.

    The English language Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack isn't particularly impressive. For some reason the levels on the disc are quite low meaning that you'll have to turn the volume up a fair bit to hear the dialogue. When you turn it up, the background hiss on the track becomes quite audible, which is a shame. That said, once you've turned the track up you can hear everything and follow the film without any major problems as the hiss, while certainly distracting, doesn't overpower. But don't expect this disc to sound perfect.


    The primary supplement on this release is a new featurette entitled Voices From The Black, which is basically a half hour's worth of phone interviews that play out over pertinant clips from the film. Interviewed here are the film's co-writer Dardano Sacchetti, costume designer Massimo Lentini and editor Bruno Micheli. While this isn't all that visually impressive the content is strong in that it allows the three participants to relay their experiences working on the film and about their individual relationships with Fulci - each interviewee has a slightly different impression of him, and Sacchetti has no kind words for the man.

    Rounding out the extra features is the film's North American theatrical trailer (as The Psychic and not as Seven Notes In Black - in anamorphic widescreen), menus and chapter stops.

    The Final Word:

    Fulci fans will want to scoop this one up asap even if Severin's presentation isn't as good as we could have hoped. Some stylish cinematogrpahy and strong direction work nicely alongside a good lead performance and some fun, clever plot twists to make for an enjoyable giallo.
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