Along with Brain De Palma Richard Franklin is a director who wears his Hitchcock influence on his sleeve, which depending on your point of view is either a good or bad thing. Personally I dig both these directors’ work watching their films more often than Hitch’s probably due to my love of all things trashy. Blasphemy I know but gimme Franklin’s sequel to Psycho or De Palma’s Dressed To Kill and Body Double over the master’s flicks any day. Feel free to kick my ass with hate mail.
Supernatural thrillers involving telekinesis were very popular during the 70s especially the De Palma directed vehicles The Fury and Carrie. Patrick is the Australian answer to these films an is a fairly effective chiller penned by Everett DeRoche (Long Weekend) and scored by Brain May who utilizes a Herrmann styled score that is a loving nod to the films of Hitchcock.
Patrick (Robert Thompson) is a nasty piece of work who winds up comatose as the result of shock after he murders his mother and her lover. This scene was a truly exceptional set piece and was my favourite of the entire film. Thompson excelled at showing a menacing psychopath giving us an insight the sheer lunacy that lies behind the eyes of the comatose Patrick.
Kathy (Susan Penhaligon) a young nurse who has recently separated from her husband begins work in the hospital where Patrick dwells. Patrick is being exploited and experimented on by his doctor Roget (Robert Helpmann) who sees him merely as “160 pounds of limp meat hanging off a comatose brain” and “a very rare opportunity to study the grey area between life and death”. Helpmann pulls off a great performance as the heartless doctor who ends up a casualty of Patrick’s wrath. Kathy believes Patrick has an active mind and forms a bond with him and as the events of the unfold she learns of his telekinetic abilities. Patrick becomes obsessed with Kathy and begins to cause a series of accidents to those close to her in order to control her and keep her close to him. Patrick soon learns of Dr Roget’s plans for him all hell breaks loose! Plenty of jump out of your seat moments especially the films finale makes Patrick a worthwhile watch for fans of the genre. Hell there’s even some half assed underlying feminist themes for the more academic viewers too.
Although the film has a lot of tense moments and shocks it does tend to drag at points creating slow stretched out scenes that would’ve been better left on the cutting room floor. I believe there is a shorter Italian cut of the film featuring a score by Goblin that might remedy this problem but I haven’t come across this version to compare it or the unofficial sequel Patrick Still Lives. More than simply a Hitchcock “homage” Patrick holds its own amongst the similarly themed films of the time and ranks for me along with Thirst as one of Australia’s better forays into the horror genre.
The Umbrella “Ultimate Ozploitation Edition” is miles ahead of the previous R4 release put out by Manga Pacific, jam packed with special features and boasts a far superior transfer. Along with the Synapse Films version this is the definitive edition of the film and is a essential purchase for cult cinema enthusiasts. A fitting tribute to what a great director Franklin was before his untimely passing.
- Archival on set interview with Richard Franklin
- Audio Commentary with Richard Franklin
- Original Australian and US trailers
- Stills and Poster Gallery
- Excerpt from dubbed US version
- “The Man Who Wasn’t There” – story outline for the unproduced sequel (PDF)
- Featurette – “A Coffee Break With (producer) Antony I. Ginnane”
- Antony I. Ginnane Trailer Reel
- More Umbrella Ozploitation
DIRECTOR(S): Richard Franklin | COUNTRY: Australia | YEAR 1978 | DISTRIBUTOR(S): Umbrella / Vendetta | RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes