Patrick (1978)

AUGUST 18, 2009


I’ve said it before, and I will say it again - whenever possible, watch films in order. Had I watched Patrick before I saw Patrick Still Lives, I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more. By design, the Italian ripoff turned sequel speaks more to my sensibilities (i.e. it was ridiculously gory and mean-spirited) than Richard Franklin’s film does, so I must admit I was a bit bored at times during the film. Franklin made a genuinely good film - but I’ve already seen it filtered through the eyes of crazy Italians, which kind of subdued its merits.

But again - it’s a good film. Don’t let my obsession with “awesome” ness make you think otherwise. Franklin is a student of Hitchcock (it was this film that got him the gig directing Psycho II, arguably one the best “this should have been a disaster” movies ever), and it is quite evident here, particularly in the blend of dry humor and suspense. There’s a nutty old patient at the hospital that killed me every time he was on screen (love when he takes our heroine up and then back down a porch to show her a door that was merely around the corner from where they started walking), and a cop investigating the murders also tickled me more often than not.

Plus, let’s not beat around the bush - most of the movie is about Patrick trying to get a hand job. See, he has supposedly lost all five of his senses, but he CAN hear, so he makes clicking noises (one for yes, two for no) to answer simple questions (Franklin cuts to Patrick’s POV as Patrick claims he cannot see, an odd little touch). Then he starts getting touch back, so the cute nurse begins touching various body parts to see if he can feel it. When she touches his cock, he gets aroused (we don’t see this, thankfully), but they are interrupted before she can proceed any further with her “test”. And then later on, he uses his powers to fuck with her typewriter, asking for her to finish giving him his hand job.

Of course, he’s a sympathetic villain of sorts, so we can’t hate him. Therefore, her actual romantic interest is not killed, but trapped in an elevator for half the movie, and the people he does kill are largely abhorrent, such as “The Matron”, a Nurse Ratchet-esque woman who wears the worst hat ever. Again, this is where I was sort of spoiled by Patrick Still Lives - that dude would kill anyone for the hell of it. But it DOES give the movie a sense of class that I wasn’t expecting. I knew Franklin was no hack, but still, I wasn’t expecting Patrick to be sort of likable. And you can’t really fault a guy for wanting a hand job.

Speaking of hand jobs - I think I understand now why the "sequel" had so much female nudity; this movie is wall to wall with naked or mostly naked... dudes. I'm all for equality and all that good stuff, so I cannot COMPLAIN about such things, but merely WARN fellow male viewers that this movie offers far more cocks than vaginas, with a male to female chest ratio of about 5:1. The one female chest we do see is quite lovely though, so it makes up for it.

The only real problem I had was the film’s length. It’s just under two hours, and gets quite draggy and a bit repetitious. For example, there are like three scenes where the girl sees Patrick doing something, then gets someone else to witness it and he refuses to comply. Apparently, the film was cut by about 15 minutes for its original US release (it’s an Australian film), and since it’s not particularly gory, I can’t help but wonder if the US version was simply faster paced. I wouldn’t mind checking it out.

As this was a Grindhouse night, there was another movie screening with it. Harlequin (aka Dark Forces) was another Aussie flick (written by Patrick's Everett De Roche, in fact), but more of a dramatic thriller at best, instead of the horror film I was expecting. It starts off pretty creepy, with Robert Powell as a clown who is suspiciously hanging around a kid’s birthday party, before seemingly appearing out of thin air in his room later on to cure him of his leukemia. But then it becomes a modern day take on the Rasputin story, with a bunch of political chess-type maneuvering to ensure this one guy gets into office. So it’s like Omen III, but with a weird clown instead of the Antichrist. Not bad, but after Patrick, which was unusually classy for a Grindhouse night, I was hoping for something a bit more schlocky. If anything, it actually made Patrick seem like the less respectable film of the pair. I brought my usual beer, but these films were more bottled water or maybe a nice cup of tea-style affairs. It was a nice change of pace though; I wouldn’t mind seeing more “legitimately good” movies get added to the GH lineup, so long as I KNOW they are such type films beforehand. I felt like a dumbass sitting there with a 6 pack for movie that actually had a discernible plot and well-drawn characters.

What say you?

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  1. Slurp yum naked men!

  2. My thoughts exactly. You have written this as if I were Patrick and you the nurse. Now where's my handjob?!

  3. Not only would your viewing of PATRICK be more positive had you watched it first, but I wager you'd have enjoyed the balls-out nuttiness (ooer) of PATRICK STILL LIVES more too! I enjoyed PATRICK all right but like you was kind of bored by it after a while. The spitting and the random frog-murder demonstration were standout scenes, though, as was Nurse Wretched's opening monologue to the heroine when she was applying for the job. And I'd like to have a catapult like the one they must have used in the final scene. :)

    I was unaware that PATRICK's director also directed PSYCHO II, though, which is one of the Duke of DVD's favorite unsung sequels. Very cool!

  4. Glad to see a review for Patrick! Its so commonly overlooked, but I agree on all points, a subtle but well played little GH flick. Im still amazed at how composed the actor remains throughout the entire film, I dont think I saw him bat an eye or flinch at all

  5. Seen it many time. Great Aussie classic from the late 70s.


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