Seven Notes in Black AKA Sette Note in Nero AKA The Psychic AKA Murder to the Tune of the Seven Blac [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Shameless Screen Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (30th July 2021).
The Film

Director Lucio Fulci is widely regarded as the ‘Godfather of Gore’. But being famous for his gore-artistry is, somewhat unfairly, to the detriment of the magistral filmmaker that he was. Fulci is revered by Tarantino (who borrowed the tune of The Psychic in his Kill Bill) and other Hollywood mavericks as their avowed influence. This new edition of THE PSYCHIC is exclusive as it has been extensively further restored from new 2K scanned materials to show Fulci’s gem like never before; for the 1st time truly doing justice to the Maestro’s original vision, making this the definitive world-exclusive version of the film deservedly described by Stephen Thrower in his reference-work on the director: ‘THE PSYCHIC deserves careful consideration as one of Fulci's best films’

Crafted with intense attention to detail, scripted and delivered in a flawless, almost mathematical, linear fluidity, Fulci builds with each scene a new layer of increasing suspense like no other of his films. This is a Hitchcockian whodunit thriller seen through Fulci’s vision of disjointed universes where reality and dreams, the dead and the living, the past and present are all interconnected.

Jennifer O'Neill, fresh from Visconti’s last film ‘The Innocent’, plays Virginia who has had psychic powers since childhood, starting with the trauma of having sensed, from a great distance, the very moment of her mother’s suicide… Now newly married and rich, Virginia becomes plagued by waking visions of bloody deaths and meaningless images which torment her. With the aid of her parapsychologist friend (Marc Porel) who carries a torch for her, they try to elucidate the meaning of these horrific unwanted visions only to slowly discover that these are premonitions of future deaths ...

Video

Lucio Fulci Giallo murder mystery with a dollop of supernatural seems to be heavily influenced by the success of Nicholas Roeg's Don't Look Now (1973) and the casting of O'Neil (a very current actress at the time) due to her involvement in J. Lee Thompson's creepy The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1974).

The plot is quite involved and has more than it's fair share of twists and turns but the most recogniseable aspect is the haunting six note theme played on a watch that is significant in the solving of the mystery. Composed by Bixio-Frizzi-Tempera (Franco Bixio, Fabio Frizzi, Vince Tempera) the pice gained much greater exposure when Quentin Tarantino utilised it in Kill Bill, Volume 1 (2003).

A clumsy, poorly handled 1959 prologue involving the suicide of O'Neil's mum notwithstanding, this is a slick, confidently handled supernatural thriller with a wonderful, dreamy, hazy look due to the fine cinematography of Sergio Salvati. The whole film has a strange, creepy ambiance and O'Neil's empathic performance is the film's backbone.

Although not a box office success on first release, director Lucio Fulci's excellent supernatural Giallo Seven Notes in Black (AKA The Psychic) has gained a great deal of fan acclaim in the decades since and quite a cult following. It's memorable theme tune was used by Quentin Tarantino in his 2-part film Kill Bill (2003-04).

UK Boutique label Shameless Screen Entertainment have brought this cult classic to the UK market in a lavishly appointed special edition based on an unspecified source taken "from new 2K-scanned materials" which apparently is the same as the one used for the US BD.

Anyone who's seen this film in the past will know that it's not always looked good on home video formats; it can be problematic to get right visually due to stylistic choices made by Fulci and his DP (director of photography). It's been shot using circular lens and presented matted to 1.85:1 for theatrical exhibition; I'm not experienced enough with the film to know if it was shot hard or soft matte. The Psychic was lensed by Sergio Salvati using a hazy, filtered look that has been difficult to get right.

I have the old US R1 (NTSC) 2007 Severin DVD and Shameless' BD transfer blows that otherwise decent-for-it's-time release out of the water. By comparison encoding, colour, detail, blacks and contrast have all been improved. The 2K scan has however got a great deal of detail out of this problematic source producing an exceptionally filmic presentation; see the restoration featurette for a splendid comparison betwixt before and after.

Shot on photochemical film in 35mm, colour values are warm favouring a slight purple bias; the palette is naturalistic but with pinkish flesh tones that can appear quite ruddy. Primaries are well delineated with no bleeding. Detail is adequate with skin and fabric textures in close or medium shots benefitting the most. This is a soft-looking film by design but detail is still satisfying even if it is muted due to the filtering when compared to a film that was lensed in a more straightforward way; in foregrounded shots and closeups it's acceptable but filtered as part of the original production. I didn't detect any use of DNR but wouldn't rule out the possibility that a small amount may have been used.

Black levels are deep and rich with no unintended crush and shadow detail is generally good; contrast is lowkey and supportive without any blown out whites. The encode is strong and the restoration has removed all signs of age-related wear and tear. A fine presentation.

NOTE: For some strange reason, Shameless have added a video generated "The Psychic," before the existing title card of "Murder to the Tune of the Seven Black Notes".

1080/24p / AVC MPEG-4 / BD50 / 1.85:1 / 97:20

Audio

English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
English LPCM 2.0 Mono (48K)
Italian LPCM 2.0 Mono (48K)
Subtitles: English (yellow)

The soundtracks presented here are more problematic than the image.

The showpiece is the English Master Audio track which is louder than the preferable English LPCM version; it's had a little too much noise reduction and filtering applied which gives it a very slight distorted quality that is very apparent when you toggle between the LPCM versions. It's nowhere near as bad as the very heavily distorted English track on Full Moon's recent BD of Naked Girl Murdered in the Park (1972) and is not unlistenable.

Of the two LPCM tracks the English is definitive as it's the language everyone is very obviously speaking on set and is slightly more robust than the Italian. Both are dubtracks as The Psychic was shot silent with all language variations being created after the fact in studio.

Subtitles are provided, although not for the hearing impaired; they're yellow in colour and are designed to specifically accompany the Italian track as they are direct translations. When viewed alongside the English tracks they display many differences to what is being said on screen.

Extras

"Escape from Doom" 2021 interview with Dardano Sachetti (and an excerpt from an audio interview with Lucio Fulci) (50:12)
"Behind the Wall" 2021 interview with Fabio Frizzi (24:27)


The Sacchetti piece seems to be the same as the one found on the US 2019 Scorpion BD (recorded in 2018) and also using excerpts from a vintage interview with Lucio Fulci. The version here may have been altered and / or updated as it bears a 2021 copyright. Both this and the unique-to-Shameless Frizzi interview are made by Freak-O-Rama and are in 1080/24p 1.78:1 with lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo that plays in surround if channeled through ProLogic II or similar. Both cover each individual's respective careers and specifically working with Fulci.

"Daddy Dearest: Antonella Fulci Shares Memories of Her Father and His Films" 2020 interview (35:03)
"Touching Fate: Antonella Fulci Talks About the Psychic" 2020 interview (21:12)


Two new featurettes culled from the same interview with Fulci's older daughter Antonella. The titles of which are pretty self explanatory as regards content; talking head interview interspersed with clips from The Psychic and stills taken from her personal archive. Plenty for fans to relish here. Presented in 1080/24p 1.78:1 with lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound that plays in surround if channeled through ProLogic II or similar.

Restoration Featurette (2:31)

A short piece that illustrates via an on screen triptych (Steps 1, 2 and 3) showing the original, an intermediate and a final restored image. Presented in 1080/24p 1.78:1 with lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound that plays in surround if channeled through ProLogic II or similar.

Double-sided sleeve with choice of artworks.
Card slipcase with key art


The sleeve features two choices of key art created for the film's original theatrical releases. The card outer slipcase features one kf the two key arts seen on the sleeve (pictured above) and also has proudly declared on one of the two spines "The Psychic: The Definitive 2K-Restored Bersion".

Startup Trailers:
- The New York Ripper (0:48)
- The Case of the Bloody Iris (1:05)
- The Beyond (0:59)


These are not vintage trailers but are new creations by Shameless to promote their titles. Presented in 1080/24p 2.35:1 with uncompressed English LPCM 2.0 surround.

Packaging

Standard, slimline, Shameless-yellow BD case with a card outer sleeve.

Overall

Shameless Entertainment in the UK have produced a very fine BD presentation of Lucio Fulci's cult classic The Psychic taken from a 2K restoration; probably the same 2018 restoration that provided the 2019 US BD with it's transfer. Image and sound are very good and the extras package is exemplary with most of the material being unique to this release so fans will want to pick it up even if they have all of the other discs on the market.

Highly recommended and currently only £17.10 to preorder on UK Amazon (released on 9.8.2021).

The Film: B+ Video: A Audio: B+ Extras: A+ Overall: A-

 


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