Patrick (1978)

What a great little film. This is the second review in my "Australian Series" - I want to cover as many Australian exploitation movies in these pages as possible. I'm sure other reviewers have done it but there's room out there for your old Uncle Boris's opinions, hopefully. And this little gem is definitely worth reviewing.

We open in classic exploitation style as a mature couple have sex, to the hostility of her adult son (Robert Thompson), whom we later find out to be the Patrick of the title. He throws an electric heater into the post-coital bath, and then we flash to the future. Whether by the "accident" that killed his mother or sheer mental shutdown, Patrick has been in a coma for three years. His new nurse, Kathy (Susan Penhaligon), is sympathetic to a being everyone else, from Doctor Roget (a bizarre Robert Helpmann) to the other nurses, call a pathetic piece of dead flesh. Kathy senses something is amiss when Patrick displays a seemingly deliberate spitting behaviour.

As the story unfolds we find Kathy's seperated husband Ed and new lover Brian, both who have her in their sights, being victimized by a telekinetic Patrick, who strikes out from behind his coma in many different ways. He tries to drown Brian, and Ed is stuck in a lift for what seems like days. Then things really get rough, when Doctor Roget starts giving ol' Patrick shock therapy in his experimentations to rouse Patrick. To protect himself, Patrick electrocutes the Matron down at the generator plant, and begins flinging furniture around as Roget mounts an all-out attack with an axe. Patrick is too strong though, and locking Roget outside his hospital room, confronts the woman he loves with a terrible choice.

As I opened in this review, I believe this is a wonderful little film. It's a character piece, but has enough little horrific and exploitation moments to add spice when necessary. The acting is all quite adequate and director Richard Franklin maintains a nice atmosphere of dread all through. The music is noticeable in a good way, thanks to regular Aussie composer Brian May. We don't really get to explore the past of the comatose Patrick, he's really just the object that the action takes place around. He's basically presented as a sinister thing, that we aren't really encouraged to feel any sympathy for.

Nonetheless, if you're interested in Australian cinema, please give this one a chance. There's more to us than Crocodile Dundee, count on it.

© Boris Lugosi 2003.


Review written: 06/03/2003 19:54:25