Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 6th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, August 10th, 1977
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writers: Lucio Fulci, Roberto Gianviti, Dardano Sacchetti
Cast: Jennifer O’Neill, Gabriele Ferzetti, Marc Porel, Gianni GarkoDVD Released: April, 2005
Approximate Running Time: 94 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Alfa Digital (Grey Market Release)
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: As a little girl Virginia (Jennifer O’Neill) had one of her first psychic visions while at school in Florence, Italy. In her vision she witnesses her mother who at the time was in Dover, England jump off a cliff to her death. Years later still traumatized by her mother’s suicide Virginia visits a psychiatrist on a regular basis. Virginia’s husband Francesco Ducci (Gianni Garko) is away on business so she decides after visiting an abandon home her husband owns to redecorate it for him as a surprise. While traveling through the house she is overtaken by a sense of de ja vu which leads to her finding a corpse hidden in the way via her latest psychic vision. Francesco upon his return is arrested for the murder of the woman whose body was found in his house by his wife. Is Virginia seeing glimpses into the past via her physic powers or is she seeing something that has yet to happen?
Lucio Fulci directed five giallo’s that are all unique twists upon this popular genre and unlike most of his contemporaries who made these films in most cases by the book and often mimicked other successful entries with in the giallo genre. The look and feel of the psychic owes more to the supernatural and gothic horror films made in Italy in the 1960’s even though it is often referred to as a thriller. It is a giallo hybrid at best and out of the five giallo Fulci made Seven Notes in Black most closely resembles his first thriller One on Top of The Other.
Early on Fulci builds tension as Virginia drives through a series of tunnels on her way home after dropping her husband off at the airport. This is also the first time we as the audience are shown a glimpse of what is to come as Virginia has a vision which will now lay the foundation for the rest for the film. One of the films weak points are its special effects that feature a mannequin fallen off the cliff similar to the one used in Don’t Torture a Duckling. The shot is not helped by the fact the Fulci insists on showing us up close the damage done to the body instead of doing wider shot and keeping some of the trick hidden. The films score was composed by the trio of Franco Bixio, Fabio Frizzi and Vince Tempera. Outside of the films opening theme during the credits which sounds like a cross between ABBA and the Carpenters the rest of the score sounds like the type of music that resembles scores from his early 1980’s films. The main piece of music that plays through out Seven Notes in Black was also used by filmmaker Quentin Tarantino for his film Kill Bill volume 1. This piece of music also plays an important part in the film Seven Notes in Black because Virginia is given by her sister in law a watch as a gift that plays this tune. Casting wise the film is blessed with a strong cast that is lead by Jennifer O’Neill and Marc Porel who make an excellent duo as they search for clues and answers to the mystery as it unfolds. One Argento connection I noticed whether intentional or unintentional is the similarities of Virginia and Marcus Daly played by David Hemmings in deep red as they both search by themselves in an abandon house that both happen to have dead corpses hidden in them. Like most of Fulci’s films from this time period Seven Notes in Black is beautifully light and its carefully composed compositions are a virtual visual feast for the eyes. The screenplay weaves a web of deceit and it is one of last truly great screenplays Fucli was fortunate to work with.
Alpha Digital presents Lucio Fulci’s Seven Notes in Black in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The title card sequence and end credits are in Italian while some of the forced subs on the screen when a location is announced are in French. The black levels are solid and remain strong through out. There is some minor print damage in the form of dirt and nicks; still nothing that ever becomes distracting. Flesh tones and colors are dead on. Before watching this edition of Seven Notes in Black released by Alpha Digital my only previous exposure to this film was via a DVD-r sourced from a Japanese VHS. While this release was more then watch able it is no were near the quality of the Alpha Digital release offers a clarity that is so sharp that details that had been in previous murky editions had been obscured now comes to light with breath taking detail. This release comes with only one audio option the films original English dubbed track with is virtually free of any hiss or distortion. Overall the sound mix supplied for this release perfectly mixes the music and dialog without ever drowning the other out. Extras wise this release is basically barebones and only comes with a photo gallery that runs for about one minute while music from the movie plays in the background. Despite its lack of extras this is the best version of Seven Notes in Black released to date and until a definitive edition comes along this version is a worthy addition to every Lucio Fucli fans collection, Recommended.
DVD-r (Japanese VHS NTSC)
Alpha Digital (Region 0 NTSC)