The Psychic (1977)

In which Fulci returns to giallo territory, and does so by ripping himself off: the beginning of this comes straight from the end of Don’t Torture a Duckling. Maybe he thought so few people got to see the earlier film that no one would notice? Unfortunately apparently hardly anyone saw this back in the day so it was academic anyway… Fulci seems to be going for restraint again for the most part much as he did in Four of the Apocalypse, though here it works better. The titular psychic is Virginia, who has a clairvoyant flash of a murder, and later finds her vision borne out when she finds a walled-up skeleton in a house belonging to her new husband, who immediately becomes the chief suspect when the police discover he knew the young lady the skeleton used to be. However, complications ensue when it becomes apparent the vision wasn’t of past events but future ones. Exactly whose death has she seen? As I said, Fulci was evidently going for comparative subtlety (this is not a Dario Argento movie), which looks quite remarkable in hindsight given what we know about his career following this film, and for the most part I think it works; the generally muted colour scheme designed to let the reds stand out (though the reds aren’t quite as epic as in Perversion Story) contributes to the overall not-quite-standard-giallo vibe, although I’m not sure the film wouldn’t have been hurt by a bit livelier pace and maybe a bit more coat of lurid. I’m kind of with Troy Howarth, too, in not having been particularly blown away by Jennifer O’Neill in the lead role; she’s OK but I don’t think she’s as good as some think. On the whole, though, I liked this, great story handled in nice fashion.

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