Frenzy, noun: violent mental derangement. 2. wild excitement or agitation; distraction. 3. a bout of wild or agitated activity. Essentially, that’s us when our next book project is due and the publisher wants their manuscript (cheap plug time: Pick up a copy of Death by Umbrella! The 100 Weirdest Horror Movie Weapons).

The film of the same name is befitting of its title. Frenzy is a homecoming for the Master of Suspense, and saw Hitchcock’s return to London and the film’s opener, a sweeping, lazy, placid helicopter shot of Tower Bridge and the mighty Thames, is a wonderful tonal setup.

As we land on terra firma, it’s the nasty business of politics that precedes the nasty business of murder: a local city councilor (or possibly an MP) promises to clean up the river…and in the midst of a well-intentioned/well-attended photo-op (journalists + the public) a nude form washes up on the shoreline…the body of a woman…

One of the rabble yells that it’s another “victim of the necktie murderer” and viewers’ minds are immediately sent back to the time of Jack the Ripper, the mysterious Victorian in the top-hat with medical training who terrorized Whitechapel roughly a century prior (for those who are interested, check out our review of Murder by Decree, a flick which features Christopher Plummer hot on the tail of Saucy Jack).

In a nod to the Vigilance Committee leader of  the era, headed by captain of industry George Lusk, the killer here is…Rusk. And in a tribute to Hitch’s father (a grocery man), this film’s set in Covent Gardens.

In a change of pace, here Hitch tips off viewers as to who’s done the dirty deeds. So Frenzy is not a suspense film in the traditional sense. Rather, it’s a depiction of how uber-red herring Blaney, a down-on-his-luck drinker, degenerate gambler and ex-barman, has to clear his name when his estranged missus ends up strangled in her place of business.

Without being strangled by the censors, Hitchcock is able to go all out here, and the influence of violent spectacles like The Last House on the Left no doubt left their mark. The result: more violence and mayhem then we’d seen, but still intact…Hitchcock’s incomparable visual style.

***3/4 (out of 5)

[Check out our discussion of Frenzy on the Really Awful Movies Podcast!]

The Psychic

Fulci-lite, is like lite-beer. Still a beer. And as such still enjoyable. The Psychic, aka, Sette note in nero (Seven Notes in Black) has that usual bit of Italian flare, wobbly-pop narrative and other-wordly dreamscapes that make these kinds of flicks enjoyable.

Virginia has psychic visions, stemming from girlhood when she has a harrowing hallucination of her mother plummeting off the white cliffs of Dover. These carry on to present day Florence, where she has a premonition of a body stuffed into a wall, the corpse of an elderly woman. When the “Carabinieri” start poking their noses around, they do find the deceased, however it’s the skeleton of a 25-year old.

The boys in blue implicate Virginia’s husband, Gianni, a Lothario who once dated the woman, but more damningly, it was in his fixer-upper house and behind his drywall, that the victim was stashed.

Dutiful Virginia teams up with Gianni’s sister Gloria, to put together a case to spring Gianni from the joint (this being the Italian justice system, Amanda Knox and all, one can’t be too careful. As Gianni puts it, re: a body found on his premises…”here it takes so little” [assumption of guilt]).

And it’s through her Virginia’s visions that clues unfold…a yellow cab, driven by a guy who ferried the deceased around on that fateful night, accompanied by another Lothario, an arts expert, Professor Rospini. Perhaps it was he did the nasty deed and who wanted to shut up a young paramour and prevent the missus from finding out? He certainly has a more viable motive.

The Psychic features some absolutely incredible music, written in part by genre heavy Fabio Frizzi, with a particularly foreboding piece being the alarm for a watch Gloria gives to Virginia.

With very mild gore, there are still enough Fulci touches to sate the masses. This was two years before the inestimable Zombi 2, and the classics he ripped out in the early 80s like The Beyond and City of the Living Dead.

***1/2 (out of 5)