Sette note in nero

Sette note in nero

American film poster for Sette note in nero
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Produced by Fulvio Frizzi[1]
Written by Roberto Gianviti
Dardano Sacchetti[2]
Starring Jennifer O'Neill
Gianni Garko
Gabriele Ferzetti
Marc Porel
Evelyn Stewart
Jenny Tamburi
Music by Franco Bixio
Fabio Frizzi
Vince Tempera[2]
Cinematography Sergio Salvati[2]
Edited by Ornella Micheli[2]
Release dates
  • August 10, 1977 (1977-08-10) (Italy)
Running time
95 minutes
Country Italy
Language Italian

Sette note in nero is a 1977 giallo film directed by Lucio Fulci and written by Roberto Gianviti and Dardano Sacchetti. Sette note in nero stars Jennifer O'Neill, Gianni Garko and Marc Porel. The film has received mixed reviews from critics.

When a woman begins experiencing psychic visions that lead her to discover a murder, her husband is charged with the killing. The psychic must embark on an investigation with a paranormal researcher to clear her husband's name of the crime.


In 1959 England, a woman commits suicide by leaping from a cliff. At the same time, her daughter Virginia, living in Florence, Italy sees her mother's death in a vision. In the present day, an adult Virginia (Jennifer O'Neill) lives near Rome, Italy and has married a rich Italian businessman Francesco Ducci (Gianni Garko). Ducci leaves on a business trip, and as Virginia drives herself away from the airport after seeing him off, experiences more visions—she sees an old woman murdered, a wall being torn down and a letter hidden beneath a statue.

Virginia plans to renovate an abandoned mansion her husband has bought, but notices that the building resembles one she has seen in her visions. She tears down a wall in one room, finding a skeleton behind the plaster. Assuming the skeleton is that of the woman in her vision, Virginia contacts the police; however, they do not believe her story and charge Ducci with the killing.

Examination of the body reveals it not to be an old woman, but one in her twenties; killed about five years earlier. The skeleton is finally identified as Ducci's ex-girlfriend, who vanished several years ago. Virginia is determined to exculpate her husband, and contacts her friend Luca Fattori (Marc Porel). Fattori is a researcher of psychic phenomena, and his investigation eventually leads to the wealthy Emilio Rospini (Gabriele Ferzetti), who may be the true culprit.

Francesco returns from his business trip where Virginia updates him on everything that has happened. He urges her to dismiss the matter from her mind, but she instead grows more and more obsessed with learning this mystery.

Virginia discusses the case with Francesco's sister Gloria (Evelyn Stewart), and Melli (Riccardo Parisio Perrotti), a lawyer friend of Gloria's. Gloria says that her brother left for a business trip to America in April 1972, and that she was the one who changed the furniture of the place. The room with the walled-in corpse had been Franceso's bedroom, but was the Gloria who had bought the furniture that Virginia saw in her vision, after Francesco's departure.

A few days later, Virginia buys a magazine which runs a picture of the murdered woman on the front cover, exactly the same magazine from Virginia's vision. When Luca notices that the magazine has only existed for a year, it becomes apparent to him that Virginia has experienced a premonition, not a vision of past crimes. Virginia and Luca find more evidence that appears to clear Francesco, allowing him to get released on bail. Gloria, in the meantime, gives Virginia a wristwatch as a gift, one that plays a haunting tune on the hour.

Details from the promotions start to occur in front of Virginia with greater and greater frequency. Virginia takes a yellow taxi, with a blinking CB radio light, from Luca's office to her home. The mysterious old woman phones Virginia, leaving a message on her answering machine, offering information about the case. When Virginia arrives at her house, she finds her dead (in the same position from Virginia's vision). Rospini appears and Virginia flees in panic. Grabbing a vital letter featured on a coffee table in her vision, Virginia escapes down the road to a neighboring church that is undergoing repairs. Virginia's hiding place is given away when her wristwatch chimes go off. Rospini tries to reach her on a wooden scaffold, but slips and falls to the marble floor, many feet below.

Virginia runs back to her husband's old villa nearby, and phones him at his office to come see her right away. When he arrives, Virginia is alarmed by his limp, which he claims to have twisted his ankle just a few hours before. They go inside to the fateful room. Francesco puts down a copy of the magazine with Agneta on the cover, right on the table as described in the vision. Growing more nervous, Virginia starts smoking one of Gloria's yellow cigarettes, and places it in an ashtray also featured in the vision.

At the hospital, the police talk to the badly injured Rospini, who can barely gasp out his explanation of the events. Back in 1972, the old woman, Signora Casati, had an illicit buyer for a valuable painting in a nearby gallery. Francesco, Rospini and Agneta Bignardi had all been involved in stealing it. Rospini killed a guard, a fact mentioned in a letter Agneta wrote to Casati. Rospini was not trying to kill Virginia, but only trying to retrieve the letter. Casati was already dead when he arrived, having been killed by Francesco, who sustained a twisted ankle after jumping out of a window. It was Francesco who murdered Agneta five years ago after she enraged him by trying to make off with the painting alone.

Alone with her husband, Virginia becomes more and more frightened by the gradual confluences of elements from her vision. The last crucial link in the chain occurs when Francesco sees the incriminating letter on the dresser. Virginia claims that she hasn't read it, but he refuses to believe her. He suddenly attacks his wife with a fireplace poker. His first blow misses as she ducks and it smashes a mirror. The next blow strikes her on the head. As she lies on the floor, bleeding profusely, he prepares to wall her into the excavated hole in the wall. Finally, all the details of room fit with the vision: Virginia was foreseeing her own murder.

A little later, Luca figures out from the magazine cover about the real location and time which Francesco could have murdered Agneta Bignardi. He then races over to the Ducci villa, while being chased by two motorcycle cops who are trying to arrest him for speeding. He manages to keep their fingers off his collar long enough to elaborate his suspicions. Francesco invites them all into his house and into the room, expressing concern at his wife's disappearance. Despite the policemens questions and Luca's remarks, they cannot break Francesco's bland of self-control. As Luca turns to leave, escorted by the police, everyone hears the haunting tune, like a music box chime, emerging from the wall where Virginia's body is...



Screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti and director Lucio Fulci have collaborated on a number of other films together, including 1979's Zombi 2, 1980's Paura nella città dei morti viventi, 1981's ...E tu vivrai nel terrore! L'aldilà and Quella villa accanto al cimitero, and 1982's Lo squartatore di New York and Manhattan Baby.[3] Fulci and Roberto Gianviti also collaborated on a number of films together, including Operazione San Pietro, Una lucertola con la pelle di donna, Zanna Bianca, Il ritorno di Zanna Bianca and Una sull'altra.[4] Sette note in nero is the fourth giallo film to have been helmed by Fulci, who had previously taken the reins on Una sull'altra, Una lucertola con la pelle di donna and Non si sevizia un paperino. Fulci's gialli have been cited as being "a far cry from his later excessive gross-out horrors", showing that the director was able to "put his finger on the free sexuality that permeated the culture at the time and the repercussions that came along with it".[5] The film, along with the rest of Fulci's oeuvre, has been described as "progress[ing] as if the characters are trapped in some awful, illogical dream, from which there is no escape".[6] The film's title has been noted as one of many giallo titles using either numbers or animal references, having been directly compared to Sette scialli di seta gialla.[7]


"Lucio was an important director in my career and also a friend, a person for whom I had strong feelings".

—Composer Fabio Frizzi on collaborating with Fulci[8]

Composer Fabio Frizzi also contributed to Paura nella città dei morti viventi, ...E tu vivrai nel terrore! L'aldilà, Manhattan Baby, and Fulci's 1990 film Un gatto nel cervello.[9] The film's score was performed on a carillon, accompanied by stringed instruments, synthesisers and piano notes. The score has been described as "simple, elegant and gravely beautiful", and has been noted for "steer[ing] clear of rampant atonality and shrieking strings", unlike typical giallo film scores.[10]

Some of the film's music was later used in the 2003 American film Kill Bill Volume 1, directed by Quentin Tarantino.{{sfn|Spencer|2008|p=279}[11]} A medley of the score was later included as part of Frizzi's 2013 Fulci 2 Frizzi live tour, including the 2014 live album release Fulci 2 Frizzi: Live at Union Chapel.[12][11]

Release and reception

Sette note in nero was released in Italy on August 10, 1977.[1] The film has also been distributed under the titles Murder to the Tune of Seven Black Notes and Psychic.[13] It was released on DVD in English under the title The Psychic on December 18, 2007.[14]

DVD Talk's Stuart Galbraith gave Sette note in nero three-and-a-half stars out of five, calling it "a very effective little thriller, smartly directed and engrossing". Galbraith felt that the film "offers few surprises" but moves with"palpable suspense", and added that the final scenes are "genuinely harrowing".[15] Writing for Allrovi, Sandra Brennan rated the film one star out of five.[1] A review in The Washington Post by Gary Arnold described the film as "an uneven experiment in terror". Arnold was critical of the post-dubbed nature of the sound, and of Fulci's "excesses of enthusiasm" in direction, but felt that this was more enjoyable than the "laborious tease" of the contemporary film Halloween.[16]

Bloody Disgusting's Chris Eggertsen included the film as number seven in a countdown of the "Top Ten Underrated Horror Gems", citing its "excellent cinematography [and] deft use of color", though criticising its "poor use of dubbing".[17] Sette note in nero has been compared to American film Eyes of Laura Mars, released the following year.[18] Italian film critic Riccardo Strada has described Sette note in nero as "effectively sinister and disturbing", finding it full of "healthy unease".[nb 1][19]


  1. Original text—"Di grande interesse anche alcune titoli di Fulci come Sette note in nero del 1977, efficacemente sinistro e disturbante, un prodotto artigianale, ma ancora oggi denso di sana inquietudine".


  1. 1 2 3 Brennan, Sandra. "Sette Notte in Nero - Cast, Reviews, Summary and Awards". Allmovie. Allrovi. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "BIF | Film & TV Database | Sette note in nero (1977) | Full credits". British Film Institute. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  3. Hutchings 2009, p. 275.
  4. "BFI | Film & TV Database | Gianviti, Roberto | Filmography". British Film Institute. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  5. Shipka 2011, p. 88.
  6. Dixon 2000, p. 73.
  7. Giovannini 1986, pp. 27–28.
  8. Frizzi 2 Fulci, p. 1.
  9. Hutchings 2009, p. 133.
  10. Spencer 2008, p. 279.
  11. 1 2 Rife, Katie (28 August 2015). "Italian film composer Fabio Frizzi to play his first-ever U.S. shows this fall". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  12. Frizzi 2 Fulci, p. 16.
  13. "BFI | Film & TV Database | Sette note in nero (1977)". British Film Institute. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  14. Brennan, Sandra. "The Psychic - DVD". Allmovie. Allrovi. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  15. Galbraith, Stuart (November 14, 2007). "The Psychic : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". DVD Talk. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  16. Arnold, Gary (May 1, 1979). "'Psychic' Shivers". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 18, 2016.
  17. Eggertsen, Chris (September 10, 2010). "Top Ten Underrated Horror Gems". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  18. Meehan 2009, p. 91.
  19. Strada 2005, p. 156.


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