Walls Have Ears – Rediscovering ‘The Psychic’ / ‘Sette note in Nero’ (Italy 1977 – 95 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - February 23, 2015
Walls Have Ears – Rediscovering ‘The Psychic’ / ‘Sette note in Nero’ (Italy 1977 – 95 mins)

One of Lucio Fulci’s lesser talked about movies, ‘The Psychic’ came just before his zombie trilogy which began with 1979’s ‘Zombie Flesh Eaters’, followed by ‘City of the Living Dead’ (’80), and ending with my personal favourite ‘The Beyond’ (’81). A dark and sometimes disturbing thriller, I think ‘The Psychic’ is one of his best movies and has a much wider appeal than perhaps his more well-known splatter pictures.

When Virginia (Jennifer O’Neill) starts experiencing psychic visions, she stumbles upon a murder which sees her wealthy husband Francesco (Gianni Garko) implicated in the killing. With the help of her psychic researcher friend Luca (Marc Porel), the pair begin their own investigation to help clear her husband’s name. Along the way Virginia has visions including the murder of an old lady, a mysterious letter being unearthed and repeated images of a hole behind a brick wall. Confused and frightened, it’s not long before Virginia pieces together the puzzle, leading to the movie’s dark and unforgettable conclusion.

A favourite of Quentin Tarantino, (he would use portions of the movie’s score in 2003’s ‘Kill Bill Volume 1’), ‘The Psychic’ is a consistently interesting thriller and has all the elements of a good old-fashioned mystery, combining past secrets and the odd red-herring.

Beautiful American actress Jennifer O’Neill, had previously made the Italian drama ‘The Innocent’ (’76) for Luchino Visconti, but is most fondly remembered for her sensitive performance in Robert Mulligan’s cult coming-of-age drama ‘Summer of ’42’ (’71). Euro fave Marc Porel had earlier appeared in Fulci’s excellent ‘Don’t Torture a Duckling’ (’72) and would be familiar in the cop genre, notably Ruggero Deodato’s violent flick ‘Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man’ (’75). Glamorous support was provided by Euro regulars Evelyn Stewart and Jenny Tamburi, while ‘Cannibal Apocalypse’s Elizabeth Turner has a minor role as Virginia’s tragic mother.

‘The Psychic’ has several impressive moments include the opening cliff-top suicide of Virginia’s mother, and the very effective finale. The only negative I have is the inferior dubbing which hampered many Italian productions of the time. Sergio Salvati’s cinematography though is quite outstanding, and Fulci would use Salvati in all his zombie pictures that followed. One of Lucio’s more critic- friendly movies, and rightly praised as an effective thriller, ‘The Psychic’ is smartly directed and thoroughly engrossing, right up to the memorably distressing ending. It remains my favourite Fulci movie.

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