Lucio Fulci’s The Psychic has had many names. Released as Murder to the Tune of the Seven Black Notes and Death Tolls Seven Times its original Italian name is simply Sette note in nero which translates as Seven Notes in Black.
Interestingly it is those seven notes, scored by the legendary Fabio Frizzi, which are perhaps more famous and familiar than the film itself to most people seeing as they were used by Quentin Tarantino in the eclectic soundtrack to his ode to martial arts movies Kill Bill: Vol. 1. In fact Tarantino nearly remade The Psychic in the 90’s with Jackie Brown star Bridget Fonda as the lead however the project never came to fruition.
I myself came across the sensational and spine tingly title track when it was sampled by Drum and Bass producer High Contrast in his appropriately named Seven Notes In Black unaware of its origin until the sensational Shameless brought Fulci’s brilliant giallo The Psychic to Blu-ray.
Those notes are in fact the tune of a wristwatch given to Virginia (Scanners Jennifer O’Neill) midway through the movie and form one facet of the myriad of clues she is faced with throughout her quest to decipher the dreadful dream of murder that captivates her consciousness.
Newly wed to the perfect man Virginia seems to have an idyllic life however her carefree façade hides a dark power that has been with her her whole life. As a young girl in Florence, Virginia sensed her mother’s suicide as she leapt of the white cliffs of Dover and ever since she has been cursed with psychic powers, unsettling powers her parapsychologist friend Luca (Marc Porel) has been trying to unravel.
One day driving home from taking her spouse to the airport Virginia is unexpectedly beset by bloody visions featuring fractured moments of a brutally murdered woman, a man with a limp and a hole in a wall among other things.
Unsure what to make of the disturbing images she puts them aside and continues on with a pet project to renovate her husband’s old house while he is away. Entering the long abandoned abode she is suddenly struck by one of the rooms which seems identical to a moment from her haunting hallucination.
Unable to ignore her suspicions she tears into the wall and discovers the skeleton of a woman bricked up and left to die prompting a police investigation into the mysterious murder which sets its sights on her other half as the prime suspect.
Convinced of his innocence and her ability to help, Virginia works with Luca in uncovering exactly what the flashes she saw in her mind’s eye mean. Slowly piecing together abstract pictures, strange scenes and fleeting faces from her vision she desperately rushes to solve the sick slaying but are the events she witnessed from the past or premonitions of what is to come?
Wonderfully well filmed The Psychic is a slick giallo and much more restrained than Lucio Fulci’s more bloody and brutal movies of which there are many. Trading on tension and terror rather than the gratuitous and grotesque it takes its cues from the Hitchcockian whodunit’s drawing the audience in to the intrigue and allowing them to attempt to solve it before it’s too late for everyone involved.
Stand out moments include the shocking opening which establishes Virginia’s chilling clairvoyance during her childhood, the main vision itself which is innovatively presented during her drive through increasingly dark and foreboding tunnels and the unsettling ending packed with dramatic revelations and terrible consequences.
Just like the secret skeleton wall space the Shameless release, which is extensively restored from new 2K-scanned materials, is equally stuffed with extras including a new exclusive interview of Antonella Fulci about The Psychic as well as a feature on the restoration, an interview with writer Dardano Sacchetti on working with Fulci and another with Fabio Frizzi on scoring film.
A gripping and nerve-wracking ride The Psychic, Murder to the Tune of the Seven Black Notes is an extremely effective thriller and importantly it proves that the great horror director Lucio Fulci was far more than just The Godfather of Gore.