Lucio Fulci is considered one of the greatest and most influential horror directors of all time, so I am ashamed to say that this 2K restoration of his 1977 film The Psychic is my first taste of Fulci. Lovingly referred to as “the Godfather of Gore”, Lucio Fulci is responsible for such bonafide horror classics as Zombie, City of the Living Dead, and The Beyond. The Psychic is a film with specific vision; its atmospheric score takes center stage, and evokes an impending mood of doom and gloom.
In The Psychic, a clairvoyant woman named Virginia (Jennifer O’Neill), while renovating one of her husband’s homes, has intense visions that her therapist says may be caused by “anxiety and agitation.” She discovers a rotting skeleton within the walls. The cops think the home’s owner may have “walled that woman up”, finding it highly suspicious that Virginia just conveniently smashed the drywall apart with a pick-axe on her very first day at the property. Virginia becomes obsessed with the case of the missing woman, convinced the skeleton is a woman of 40 years old rather than a 25 year-old as the authorities are saying. She recognizes imagery and people from her visions. Can Virginia crack the case before it is too late?
Italian giallo horror is an overly specific niche of the genre that I must admit, I am not the biggest fan of—defined by mystery, slasher, and psychological thriller elements, the giallo is typically dulled down by languid pacing. They tend to dwell far too long on expendable characters trying hard (and failing) to solve the mysteries at hand. The best one I saw, Bay of Blood, embraced the absurdity of the very sub-genre. It hammers out non-stop kill scenes, which quickens the pace—and thrills the viewer—in equal measure. The Psychic has that whodunit mystery angle down to a science, yet lacks in action.
The final act is suspenseful, if not far too brief. The Psychic rushes far too quickly towards an unsatisfying conclusion. The best things about the movie are the varied visuals and premonitions/visions that include severed heads, flashing lights, and smoking cigarettes. Coupled with the score, the largest disappointment is that the story is flimsy and simple.
As far as the restoration itself, plucked from new 2K-scanned materials, The Psychic is a beautiful-looking movie that oozes style and 70s hypnotic vibes. The visuals are crisp and amazing. The sound is immaculate, specifically that powerful score. If there is any way to enjoy this Fulci classic for the very first time, it would like this. Now, “shut your spoiled foul mouth” and enjoy—for better or worse—Lucio Fulci’s The Psychic.
The Psychic floods your mind with puzzling imagery when it releases on blu-ray and digital on August 9th, from Shameless Films.