The Psychic (Lucio Fulci / Italy, 1977):
(Sette Note in Nero; Murder to the Tune of Seven Black Notes)

A schoolgirl in Florence "witnesses" her mother stepping off the White Cliffs of Dover in the mysteriously poetic overture, a reprise of the Don't Torture a Duckling ending staged like a Vertigo remembrance, with the camera close enough to the plunging mannequin to register every bloody chunk chipped off by the jagged rocks. (Gabriele Ferzetti’s resemblance to Olivier in Rebecca later clinches the allusive style.) The girl grows into a bejeweled jet-setter (Jennifer O’Neill) but the premonitions remain, a drive in her luxurious automobile through a very long tunnel becomes a launching pad for a slew of byzantine hallucination. Her latest vision offers the shards of an incriminatory tableau mort, with splintered mirror, Visconti décor and dripping corpse. Murdered characters, or characters yet to be murdered? "Maybe you shouldn’t have married a clairvoyant," she shrugs to her befuddled husband (Gianni Garko), but then a former lover’s skeleton is found behind a dilapidated palazzo. "The normal sphere of sensitivity" and l’occulto comprise the thematic line, a tension not so much resolved as intensified by Lucio Fulci’s severe and stately gaze. The tale is not at all a giallo thriller but a contemplation of tainted art and deceived vision unexpectedly along the lines of Ruiz’s Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting: Vermeer’s Lettera d’amore, drained off color and scribbled over, is the anchoring icon, with the eponymous seven tinkling notes providing the ideal accompaniment to the Magritte palette. Poe, Borges, Argento’s crumbling wall and Lynch’s crimson chamber. It all builds to a supreme bit of Fulci suffocation, the aesthete’s POV (wobbly from a smash to the noggin) as she watches her own entombment, the screen blacked out one brick at a time. With Marc Porel, Ida Galli, and Jenny Tamburi.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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