GORE IN THE STORE
THE PSYCHIC – ****
Directed by Lucio Fulci.
Starring Jennifer O'Neill, Gabriele Ferzetti, Gianni Garko, Evelyn Stewart, Marc Porel.
Horror/Thriller, Italy, 97 mins, cert 18.
Released in the UK on Blu-ray by Shameless Screen Entertainment on 9th August 2021.
When it comes to the giallo we all know that Mario Bava and Dario Argento are the guv’nors but dig deep amongst their contemporaries in Italian cinema and there are a few gems to be found, and THE PSYCHIC – directed by ‘Godfather of Gore' Lucio Fulci (ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS/THE BEYOND) – is certainly one of the more notable gialli to have come out of Italy during the 1970s. Thankfully, the good folk at Shameless Screen Entertainment have seen fit to give the movie a 2K restoration and add it to their already-impressive catalogue of Blu-ray titles.
Looking dazzling in a variety of outfits throughout, model/actress Jennifer O’Neill (SCANNERS) plays Virginia Ducci who, as a young girl, saw her mother committing suicide in a scene reminiscent of the climax of DON’T TORTURE A DUCKLING, one of Fulci’s previous gialli. Quite a feat considering that young Virginia was in Italy whilst her mother’s mannequin was launching itself off the white cliffs of Dover but Virginia has psychic abilities and now as an adult her powers are kicking in again after a vision of a murder scene nearly causes an accident whilst she is driving.
However, the murder scene she sees is in fact inside the run down house owned by her rich businessman husband Francesco (Gianni Garko), and so when he is away she goes to the house and the visions get stronger as she makes a hole in the wall and reveals the skeletal remains of a murder victim. With Francesco under suspicion Virginia must try and piece together what has happened but are her visions images of what has already happened or are they visions of what is yet to come?
Well, when it comes to twisty, turny plots THE PSYCHIC is up there with the best gialli by keeping you guessing as to where it is going right up until the final few scenes and Lucio Fulci proves he is as good as the established genre filmmakers at keeping the mystery going without resorting to gratuitous gore or nudity to cover up the plot holes that may reveal themselves. In fact, as far as gore goes there isn’t really a lot to speak about – mannequin suicide notwithstanding – and so the director relies on the busy plot and some stunning visuals courtesy of director of photography Sergio Salvati, whose use of shadow and subtle lighting is as much of a character in the film as Virginia is.
And as far as characters go THE PSYCHIC sticks very much with giallo tradition by giving us the beautiful female lead, her slimy and instantly unlikeable husband, the psychiatrist friend who knows how to get a reaction, the clueless cops and the inevitable red herring – they’re all here like a checklist of giallo tropes but their familiarity does help guide you through the various plot twists so you haven’t got to think too hard about who is who, which can be one of the frustrating things in some gialli.
Coming housed in the traditional Shameless yellow slimline box complete with the stunning poster art on a slipcase, THE PSYCHIC is one of the better looking Blu-ray packages to have come from the label and the extras do not disappoint as we get two separate interviews with Lucio Fulci’s daughter Antonella – one specifically about THE PSYCHIC and the other about her father – and she has plenty to say in both. You also get a featurette about the restoration process of the film, an interview with writer Dardano Sacchetti on working with Fulci and an interview with composer Fabio Frizzi on how he came up with the movie’s iconic score, which was later used by Quentin Tarantino in KILL BILL VOL. 1, so it is quite a stacked disc full of Fulci-related goodies to keep you entertained.
THE PSYCHIC stands as one of Lucio Fulci’s more straightforward movies considering where he normally goes within the genre and as a giallo it moves from point A to point B with considerable swiftness considering how many curve balls he tries to throw in there. Some of them work, some of them don’t but overall THE PSYCHIC offers up vintage Italian murder mystery thrills albeit without the black-gloved killer and the director’s usual carnage and yet it works tremendously well. Definitely well worth picking up to add to your Shameless Blu-ray collection, and if you don’t have one then this as good a place as any to start one.