(Sette Notte in Nero)
The Psychic was made before the beginning of the Fulci cult and the point when he emerged as a director famed for his surreal gore effects. As a result, the film is somewhat tame. We do get one scene that opens the film with a person jumping from the White Cliffs of Dover where Fulcis camera follows the body as it falls down (an obvious looking dummy) and we see the head being gorily split open by multiple impacts with rocks on the way, but that remains it for the rest of the film.
It is wrong to look upon The Psychic as a typical Lucio Fulci horror film. Instead, it seems to have drawn its influence from Nicolas Roegs arthouse hit Dont Look Now (1973). Dont Look Now was a film (also set in Italy) where Donald Sutherland received a series of cryptic visions of events about to happen, all of which were relayed on a level of overlapping visual clues. Sutherland was also in Italy on a church restoration project, while The Psychic similarly takes place amid classical architecture and at one point makes a visit to a church that is in the process of being restored.
Unfortunately, Lucio Fulci is about at opposite remove as a director from Nicolas Roeg as it is possible to get. Roeg is an artist, one who often gets caught up in his pretensions undeniably but who made great films through editing associations. By contrast, Fulcis work here is dull and prosaic. All of Roegs visual suggestions have been watered down to the clear and obvious level of a series of clues that Jennifer ONeill picks up in her vision and then starts seeing come true. There is no ambiguity or uncertainty about any of these. In other words, what we now have is not a dazzling art film that sweeps us up into something on a subliminal level but a pedestrian murder mystery that is no different to a bunch of other clairvoyant murder mystery films see tv movies like Baffled (1973), The Eyes of Charles Sand (1972), Visions (1972) and Empathy (2007) and films such as Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), Double Exposure (1981), Fear (1990), Murderous Vision (1991), Dead On Sight (1994), Sensation (1994), Hideaway (1995), A Deadly Vision (1997), After Alice (1999), In Dreams (1999), The Gift (2000), Murder Scene (2000), Troubled Waters (2006), Let Me Die Quietly (2009) and In/Sight (2011). In Fulcis hands, the film is slow and dull. He characteristically has little interest in plot and the film plods along at an indifferent pace it takes Jennifer ONeill more than half the film to work out that she is having a vision of something that has yet to happen rather than of the past, for instance. Everything arrives at an abrupt and downbeat ending that the film has borrowed from Edgar Allan Poes The Black Cat (1843).
Lucio Fulcis other genre films are: Perversion Story (1969), Lizard in a Womans Skin (1971), Dont Torture the Duckling (1972), Dracula in the Provinces (1975), Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979), City of the Living Dead/Gates of Hell (1980), The Beyond/The Seven Doors to Death (1981), The Black Cat (1981), The House By the Cemetery (1981), The New York Ripper (1981), Manhattan Baby/Eye of the Evil Dead/The Possessed (1982), Conquest (1983), Rome 2072 A.D. (1983), Murderock (1984), The Devils Honey/Dangerous Obsession (1986), Aenigma (1987), Touch of Death/When Alice Broke the Mirror (1988), Zombi 3 (1988), Demonia (1990), Nightmare Concert (1990), Voices from Beyond (1991) and Door to Silence (1992).
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