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  Psychic, The The Curse Of Foresight
Year: 1977
Director: Lucio Fulci
Stars: Jennifer O'Neill, Gabriele Ferzetti, Marc Porel, Gianni Garko, Evelyn Stewart, Jenny Tamburi, Fabrizio Jovine, Riccardo Parisio Perrotti, Loredana Savelli, Salvatore Puntillo, Bruno Corazzari, Vito Passeri, Francesco Angrisano, Veronica Michielini
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: When Virginia Ducci (Jennifer O'Neill) was a little girl in Italy, she had a vision of her mother in England, standing atop the White Cliffs of Dover, who then jumped from the famous landmark, scraping her face off on the cliff on the way down to the beach below. Virginia has debatably never gotten over this, and now she is an adult she has suffered a fresh vision that makes no sense to her, but she feels in her bones means something significant. She is married to businessman Francesco (Gianni Garko) who tries to reassure her, but something about the new mansion they have bought disturbs her, and that vision is the reason why...

Before horror director Lucio Fulci helmed a bunch of gory, kitschy, apocalyptic horrors at the turn of the nineteen-seventies into the eighties, he had become a giallo specialist, turning out a few of that number in between the odd Spaghetti Western, and indeed one of his previous efforts to this, Don't Torture a Duckling, ended with the same face scraping effect for one character that Virginia's mother endures here. Either he was already paying tribute to himself before anyone else did, or he was running low on ideas, but as it worked out it was one of the goriest effects in this movie and built up anticipation in that respect for more.

However, Fulci was not so interested in the makeup effects in this one, and it was not as full on as his immediately later pieces. No, it was more the atmosphere and the chances to show off a degree of style that enamoured him with The Psychic, with his camera often in closeup on star Jennifer O’Neill's beautiful but somewhat expressionless and impassive face, creating a character who was not quite an ice queen - she did get emotional, and no wonder - but was consciously artificial in the presence of plot developments that would not have been so easy to accept had they been in a movie that was anywhere close to realistic.

Virginia's vision is, appropriately, more like a dream, not even quite like a nightmare despite unsettling imagery, it's too cold in its feelings for that. She sees various clues, if you like, that point her in the direction of the ultimate reality of where her psychic powers are leading her, which as you can predict from early on, is not the healthiest of places to be. What she sees is a pair of shuffling, limping feet, an older woman's face dripping blood, a band of red light, a wall being constructed, and it is that last that moves her to attack part of the room in this new mansion that her vision has told her she recognises. Surprise! She finds a dead body, a skeleton in fact, behind it, and the police are called in where they provide, well, very little assistance.

That's because if you tell the cops you've uncovered a body thanks to psychic abilities, they are going to be sceptical, and they start looking around for a culprit as this body appears to be a murder victim. In truth, the plot did not make a whole lot of sense, yet that growing sense of encroaching menace, of a destiny that Virginia may not escape, generated some heat even in these chilly surroundings, and while in the early stages the film was a bit daft, you did acclimatise to it and begin to respond. Fulci was appearing to be engaged with the material judging by the way he developed it, and if this was not exactly a dry run for his most famous cult movies, that did not mean it deserved to be neglected. It did conjure up a palpable tone of a nightmare coming true, as all good premonition chillers should, and if it did not stand up to logical scrutiny, by the stage Marc Porel as a paranormal detective (!) is rushing to the rescue, you may well feel your pulse quicken; the very end was weirdly haunting and the whole effect curiously persuasive.

[Shameless Films presents The Psychic on Blu-ray and digital 9 August 2021.

The film is fully restored and looking excellent, with these features:

TOUCHING FATE: A new exclusive interview of Antonella Fulci about The Psychic
DADDY DEAREST: An interview with Antonella Fulci about her father Lucio Fulci
Restoration process for the Psychic - showing different stages
ESCAPE FROM DOOM: An interview with writer Dardano Sacchetti on working with Fulci
BEHIND THE WALL: An interview with Fabio Frizzi on scoring The Psychic (the music later used by Tarantino).]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Lucio Fulci  (1927 - 1996)

Italian director whose long career could best be described as patchy, but who was also capable of turning in striking work in the variety of genres he worked in, most notably horror. After working for several years as a screenwriter, he made his debut in 1959 with the comedy The Thieves. Various westerns, musicals and comedies followed, before Fulci courted controversy in his homeland with Beatrice Cenci, a searing attack on the Catholic church.

The 70s and early 80s were marked by slick, hard-hitting thrillers like A Lizard in a Woman's Skin, Don't Torture a Duckling and The Smuggler, while Fulci scored his biggest international success in 1979 with the gruesome Zombie Flesh Eaters. Manhattan Baby, City of the Living Dead, The Beyond and The House by the Cemetery were atmospheric, bloody slices of Gothic horror, and The New York Ripper set a new standard in misogynistic violence. Fulci's last notable film was the truly unique A Cat in the Brain in 1990, a semi-autobiographical, relentlessly gory comedy in which he also starred. Died in 1996 from a diabetic fit after several years of ill-health.

 
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