Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here.
If that headline isn’t enough to get you excited, perhaps I overestimated you as a film geek.
THE PSYCHIC is one of Fulci’s best films in my opinion, and I’ve been waiting for it to come out on DVD for a long time. I have it here at the house and need to break it out to finally see it again.
I’m delighted to see Vern chime in on something like this on DVD, and having a new piece by him, a piece by Neill, and the Elston Gunn piece I’m about to put up… I feel like I got an uncommonly good morning’s worth of reading.
Check this out…
After years of being hard to find even in its crappy cropped VHS form, and weeks of being recalled because there was a problem with the sound, this week finally sees the DVD release of Lucio Fulci’s THE PSYCHIC from Severin Films (an up and coming label that mostly releases old EMANUELLE movies and things like that). They say it’s “Uncut For The First Time Ever In America!” which apparently means there were some scenes cut out in the old version, but does not mean it is some kind of unrated gorefest that will make you puke or challenge your religious convictions. This is one of Fulci’s thrillers, made in 1977, a few years before he started stabbing eyeballs in his horror movies like ZOMBI and THE BEYOND. It’s got its moments but it’s not as extreme as the stuff he was later known for.
Jennifer O’Neill is the psychic of the title. I mean I don’t believe she identifies as a psychic, she’s just some lady, but one day while driving through some tunnels she freaks out a little and has some visions. It’s nice to go back and see a psychic vision before the invention of Avid farts, because the images don’t cut away as fast and they are not accompanied by whooshing or thudding sound effects. Anyway, she sees a dead body and a bunch of cryptic imagery (a red lamp, a broken mirror, a magazine, a statue on its side, a wall with a section chopped out of it). Then when she moves into her new vacation home she realizes that some of the things she saw were in her home. So the movie is about her premonition coming true and her trying to do the detective work to figure out what she was seeing in her vision and by extension how to solve the murder.
One thing that’s cool about it is that the premonitions are kind of self-fulfilling. It becomes a catch-22 like you’d have in a time travel movie. For example, she sees this wall and figures out that it’s the same one that, in her vision, had a big hole in it. This inspires her to dig the hole out of it to find out what’s inside. Much later she ends up getting stuffed into the hole and bricked up without so much as a cask of amontillado. So if she had just not been paying attention to her psychic visions none of this ever would’ve happened. She would’ve been okay.
The movie is also known as SEVEN NOTES IN BLACK, which is a way better title. Not only does it sound cool but you only realize what it means at the very end of the movie. That doesn’t happen very often. I mean, in BATMAN I figured out why it was called BATMAN pretty early on. Even JURASSIC PARK, I figured that one out before they even got to the island.
I gotta be honest, THE PSYCHIC is a little slow for a guy like me who’s more used to the giallos that involve a masked man or woman going around choppin people up. This is not that kind of movie. There’s a funny trailer included on the DVD that uses the spooky woman-hanging-out-of-a-skull’s-eye-socket poster art and tells you that it’s so scary it’s gonna change your life forever. That might be a bit of an exaggeration. It does work its way to a good ending though. And even if this isn’t one of Fulci’s more violent movies it does have a little bit at the beginning that sort of illustrates how effective cinematic gruesomeness can be. In a prologue the little girl version of The Psychic sees her mom jump off a cliff. We’ve seen that kind of fall in a thousand movies, but this is the only one I can remember where it shows her head banging against the rocks a couple times on the way down. It’s so unexpected and unpleasant that you feel sort of traumatized just like the girl does, you can’t erase that image. You wouldn’t get that with a clean jump.
One reason for THE PSYCHIC’s reputation is Quentin Tarantino. He tried to buy the rights to it when he was doing Rolling Thunder Pictures, but had trouble and sprung for THE BEYOND instead. He showed it at one of his film festivals and supposedly said he was gonna remake it with Bridget Fonda. So maybe we will see that one of these days along with INGLORIOUS BASTARDS, the KILL BILL cartoons, THE VEGA BROTHERS, 40 LASHES LESS ONE, KILL SHOT, the spaghetti western style epic about slavery, the remake of COME DRINK WITH ME, the BAD NEWS BEARS remake, his version of CASINO ROYALE, MODESTY BLAISE starring Natasha Henstridge and his DTV children’s movie RESERVOIR SNOW DOGS. Actually, we might see a few of those but I think he abandoned THE PSYCHIC a long time ago. Instead he took the creepy theme song and used it effectively in KILL BILL VOLUME 1. If you have the soundtrack it’s the one that RZA uses for his poetic ode to O-Ren Ishii.
So if Rolling Thunder couldn’t get the rights to THE PSYCHIC, and Severin Films could, does that mean they could get ROLLING THUNDER too? Because that’s #1 on my must-be-released-on-DVD-list ever since POINT BLANK came out. John Flynn. Paul Schrader. William Devane. Tommy Lee Jones. Severin Films. Digital Versatile Disc. Let’s make this happen, people.
Anyway this PSYCHIC DVD is nice, but not too nice. The print quality is very good, but not one of those ones that’s digitally laquered and polished until you can see your reflection in it. There’s still some grain and some pops here and there and that’s kind of how I like it. The only extras are the trailer and a basic but interesting half hour featurette made up of phone interviews with the co-writer, the editor and the costume designer. (Not sure how the costume designer got on there, but that’s okay.) You sort of learn the history of the project and Fulci is compared to a cruel platoon commander.
If you’re a Fulci completist this is a must-have, because it is by Fulci. I guess that did not need to be said. Sorry. Anyway it’s a pretty good one, I was glad to see it. And if anybody has a problem with that tell it to your mama while she jumps off a cliff and bumps her head against the rocks.
Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/35106
View the archived Ain’t-It-Cool-News Talkback
Dec. 18, 2007, 5:12 a.m. CST
Dec. 18, 2007, 6:24 a.m. CST
Anyone else used to have a thing for Jennifer O’Neill?
I think it was during the show Cover-Up. Sheesh, I’m old.
Dec. 18, 2007, 6:53 a.m. CST
Drilling for brains!
Gates of Hell was on the cover of the first Fangoria I ever read, given to me by a jr. high buddy whose name I spotted in the credits of Idiocracy. Turns out he wasn’t just running his mouth about being a special effects artist.
I’ll have to check this one out and see what Fulci is like when he isn’t making actresses swallow and regurgitate sheeps’ intestines.
Dec. 18, 2007, 7 a.m. CST
and congrats Vern
Well deserved. I’m still digging on my first edition Seagology. No damn way Simon and Knopfler will find someone to match the front and back cover art, but I still bet they change it. Damn shame.
But this gives you a chance to discuss the sped-up Dark Territory spinning backfist.
Pivotal moment, I tell ya. Love to see a tally of sped-up moves with the end-of-chapter lists.
Dec. 18, 2007, 7:14 a.m. CST
Good one Vern…
…when will Seagalogy be on Amazon?
Dec. 18, 2007, 7:35 a.m. CST
Without wanting to sound over-pedantic: The plural of Giallo Sho
by Neon Killer
I feel it is my duty to correct you sir, in the politest possible way of course. When talking about Giallo in the plural, one should called them ‘Gialli’……
Dec. 18, 2007, 7:55 a.m. CST
Reservoir Snow Dogs!
Dec. 18, 2007, 8:46 a.m. CST
So give us the straight goods, Vern
by Spandau Belly
What level of potential does this movie have for a Cagified remake? The way you describe it, it sounds like the main character is a lady, but unless that character gives birth or something I don’t see why she can’t be replaced by Nicholas Cage. I don’t mind if they keep the character having lady name. I’d actually like to see Cage play a character named Christina or something.
I haven’t seen Cage’s psychic movie NEXT yet, as a die hard Cage fan I know I will. But we know he’s had experience playing a psychic, and I can really picture him working his manic brand of arm waving and stammering during that scene you talk about where she rips a hole out of a wall. It could be the “How’d it get burned?!!?” moment of this remake. Cage could shout “THESE BRICKS! THEY ARE AREN’T SUPPOSED TO BE THERE! (sputtering noise) THERE’S TOO MUCH WALL! TOO MUCH WALL! GOD DAMMIT! TOO MUCH WALL! (whimpering)”
Dec. 18, 2007, 10:55 a.m. CST
“We’ve seen that kind of fall in a thousand movies, but this is
Actually, Sir Lucio is borrowing from himself. He’d used almost the exact same gag five years earlier. Here is the hard evidence…
…do not watch if you don’t want the ending of one of Fulci’s best irreversibly SPOILED.
Dec. 18, 2007, 1:07 p.m. CST
You just gave me my first laugh of the day. I, uh, I think this means we’re supposed to hold hands now.
Dec. 18, 2007, 2:28 p.m. CST
Avoid Mr. Yellow in Reservoir Snow Dogs…
by Alonzo Mosely
Ahhh, fuck you, I’m tired…
Dec. 18, 2007, 4:48 p.m. CST
I still prefer The Beyond, but The Psychic definitely has the better cover art. Anyone know where to score a poster?
Dec. 18, 2007, 5:24 p.m. CST
Rolling Thunder needs to be on dvd, damn it…
by Sledge Hammer
…it just does.
Dec. 18, 2007, 7:19 p.m. CST
bricked up without so much as a cask of amontillado
by Guy Who Got A Headache And Accidentally Saves The World
That’s a real zinger right there
Dec. 18, 2007, 8:01 p.m. CST
Vern: I had Point Blank on Amazon wishlist for like 5 years!
Forgot about it and then one day! Boom it was released and now it sits next to The Limey on my DVD shelf. I love those 2 movies. Perfect compliments to each other. Lee Marvin rules man. Best revenge movie ever. Unless you mean the movie staring 9 & 1/2 weeks guy that I believe was Die Hard in a Mall. I don’t like that movie.
Dec. 19, 2007, 3:13 a.m. CST
I know, I felt like Hell froze over when I first picked up my POINT BLANK dvd. I agree, THE LIMEY always reminded me of POINT BLANK. Did you check out that commentary with Soderbergh? You can tell he’s obsessed with the movie, he just keeps asking questions about lenses and film and stuff for his own sake and not the commentary. It’s pretty funny.
#2 on my list of movies that have to come out on dvd is Sam Fuller’s WHITE DOG, which I understand is going to get a Criterion Edition. So ROLLING THUNDER will just be sitting there lonely at the top of the list, like some sort of an Omega Man.
Dec. 20, 2007, 11:05 p.m. CST
I had a great Limey poster mounted and had to leave it in Bermud
I move to BDA and brought along all these great movie posters, the best of which was the Red and Black Limey poster with his smoke trailing away and a jet rising in the background. I got deported and it now sitting in some random Bermudian’s home. Dammit, I want it back. On a seperate note, I am surprised Rolling Thunder has never come out since it gets so much love here at AICN.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.