The Psychic – Blu-Ray Review

The Psychic was directed by Lucio Fulci at the start of his most celebrated period, the late ’70s and early ’80s. That run of creativity spawned films such as Zombi 2 (better known in the UK as Zombie Flesh Eaters) and The Beyond. Fulci’s films were always kind of utter nonsense, and became increasingly surreal as they went along. The Psychic is no exception, although at times it’s a little too melodramatic.

In 1959, Virginia Ducci’s mother commits suicide in Dover, and Virginia sees her mother’s death in a vision. Jump forward to 1977, and Virginia is living in Rome, where she is married to a rich Italian businessman. She soon starts having those visions all over again, in turn incriminates her husband in the murder of his ex-girlfriend. She teams up with a researcher of psychic phenomena to try to clear his name.

The film doesn’t quite have the trademark insane dream logic that Fulci was known for, but it does have that emotional detachedness that most giallos have. I think it’s partly down to the pretty abysmal dubbing and sometimes the utterly inept storytelling of the filmmakers, although the king of the genre, Dario Argento, is a slightly better storyteller than most of his Italian contemporaries. In The Psychic, the story meanders along for a large amount of the running time, and it’s not a particularly long film at only 97 minutes so that is an issue. It’s more psychological than the typical giallo, and the story is seen more through the eyes of Virginia, which does make it more unique and less misogynistic than most giallos.

Visually, the film is arresting at times, thanks to the soft-focus cinematography by Sergio Salvati. The script is utter garbage, however. Even though Fulci allegedly toyed with it for years, it’s all over the place, and Sergio Corbucci—as Once Upon a Time in Hollywood proudly calls him, “the second best director of Spaghetti Westerns”—even had a crack at an early draft. The bulk of the script was written by Dardano Sacchetti, who was Fulci’s go-to screenwriter. However, The Psychic does have a pretty solid twist, even if it’s not the most original one.

The most striking aspect of the film, however, is the score by Fabio Frizzi. It is very hypnotic and memorable, and doesn’t have the usual sub-Bernard Herrmann, Psycho-lite screeches of the typical giallo score. The score is probably the film’s defining factor, so much so that Quentin Tarantino uses excerpts of it very memorably in Kill Bill Vol. 1 when the Bride regains consciousness and kills her would-be rapist. Interestingly, The Psychic is the only film Tarantino has ever seriously considered remaking: he went as far as saying he wanted Bridget Fonda as the lead. In a more recent development, Sacchetti has revealed that Sony Pictures (Tarantino’s current home) has been in touch about obtaining the rights for a remake—so who knows, it might be Tarantino’s 10th and final(?) film.

This new Blu-Ray includes a new and older interview with Lucio Fulci’s daughter Antonella. There is a featurette about the restoration process, along with interviews with the film’s writer, Dardono Sacchetti, and composer Fabio Frizzi.  

★★★

Ian Schultz

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