Patrick (1978)

Sex :
Violence :
Director Richard Franklin
Writers Everett De Roche
Starring Susan Penhaligon, Robert Helpmann, Rod Mullinar, Bruce Barry, Julia Blake, Helen Hemingway, Robert Thompson
Genre Mental Powers
Tagline He's in a coma... Yet, he can kill...
15 second cap Horny comma patient plays havoc with hot nurse's love life, deaths ensue.


“Why did you choose the Roget Clinic, Mrs. Jacquard? We tend to attract certain types - lesbians, nymphomaniacs, enema specialists..." - Matron Cassidy

After separating from her husband and taking up residence in an inner city Melbourne flat Nurse Kathy Jacquard accepts a job offer at the Roget Clinic. For minimum wage and the threat of the sack with no notice Kathy gets to spend her entire working day looking after star patient Patrick, who is completely comatose but makes up for it with wide eyed staring. Seems Clinic head honcho Dr Roget wants to prove something about the moment of death, and the muscular reaction of frogs apparently.

Kathy's problems are only just beginning. Her husband, Ed, wont leave her alone and could have trashed her apartment. Her interest in Patrick is placing her nursing career in jeopardy. And her love life isn't exactly rocking, what with boyfriends getting the cramp in swimming pools, and husbands getting stuck in lifts. Is the comatosed Patrick developing some special X-men mental powers, or is Kathy going hysterical? - no prizes for guessing which.

Patrick is like a classic of Australian dark cinema. If you are prepared to sit through a slow moving movie with only a couple of shock scenes going down then you will no doubt work out why. Director Richard Franklin, working off a clever script by Everett De Roche, adds the quality to the mixture in an ozploitation outing that goes beyond the normal level of a Tony G production to deliver a movie that will stay with you after the end credits have rolled. Patrick is one of those movies you can argue about over a post viewing coffee, with any number of interpretations available. Here's my take on the whole thing, use the comments option below to either agree or disagree, can't promise I'll bother reading however. We're all about customer service here at ScaryMinds.

[Editor's Note: And apparently not about coherent reviews!]

Right from the kick off Director Franklin has this puppy on a leash and he never lets it off the leash during the entire running time. The movie opens to a black screen with this irritating noise going down, I was immediately wondering if I had slipped on a European “art” movie by mistake. Turns out it's the first of a series of POVs from the comatosed Patrick, and the noise is from this dodgy neon light outside his hospital room window that is never adequately explained. The dark screen works in the context of the movie that follows Patrick's burgeoning awakening in a paranormal sense. We gradually learn Patrick is aware of happenings around him via quick POVs that come at odd intervals. It's actually really cool and I have to say gives a salient lesson in the practice of crisp no nonsense plot development. Has Patrick been aware throughout his three year coma or is he gradually developing awareness due to Nurse Kathy treating him as a human being rather than a lab test subject?

But Franklin ain't finish, the flourishes continue right through the movie as the Director tries to shoe horn in some tension in what amounts to a pretty strange encounter with the forces of darkness. When Kathy first arrives at the Clinic she passes an inordinate amount of signage indicating that the Clinic is a “do not enter” zone. Later in the movie Ed parks his car in a clear no parking zone as Director Franklin reinforces his visual clues. When Patrick decides, prior to his comatosed state, to take action against his shrew of a mother we get one of the best filmed nude romp scenes you are ever likely to run across. Momsy and boyfriend are going the horizontal grind, all reflected in what turns out to be a bed knob, with said bed knob knocking on Patrick's wall, driving our soon to be psychopath off the sanity path. A heater to the bathtub ensues baby, and that scene was a knock out yo! This sort of thing shouldn't work but as stated Richard Franklin is all over the movie with a firm hand.

Naturally since Tony G is involved boobs aren't far away, and lo and behold during a pool party scene our cup runneth over, see what I did there. Surprisingly this is the only scene where ozploitation comes to the fore, you get the feeling Director Franklin wasn't that interested in a T&A but had to include it to mollify the Production Gods.

The other notable feature of Patrick is the stunning performance of Robert Thompson in the titular role. Dude makes the movie and in a comatose fashion and out performs the rest of the male cast members to be honest. Thompson just goes at it wide eye, the stare works effectively as a creep out device (no blinking), and adds two shock scenes that certainly gave me a jolt. Thompson's Patrick is an evil self centred little bastard that is more than a match for those around him. Expressionless as Jason Voorhees on a good day, Patrick still gives the chill meter a nudge into the red.

There are some weak moments in the movie, with the odd thing happening due to the script requiring it, but nothing lovers of slow pace horror are going to get angry over. For example Director Franklin loves an overhead shot, and we get a few too many of them in use as a few improbable scenes go down. Did Ed have to buy the sports car, and didn't that particular device come slight out of left field?

If I had to describe Patrick for foreign viewers, then I guess the best comparison would be to Hitchcock's dark genre work. Richard Franklin is clearly influenced by the famous Brit Director and uses that influence to perfection in his movie. Matron Cassidy climbing the stairs in her stocking feet, but unable to enter Patrick's room due to phobia, through to her encounter with the power supply in the basement where the Audience are well aware of what is going to go down, the results of which Franklin keeps up his sleeve. Franklin is well versed in Hitchcock's adage that the Audience will do it for themselves if given enough visual clues.

Surprisingly I really enjoyed Patrick, even taking into account the general lack of tension and atmosphere. Richard Franklin delivers some shock therapy in places, but lacked the single dark genre current to keep things rattling along, the red herrings turned out to be spray painted to be honest. Brian May, no not that one, after a slow start, managed to get the violin heavy score working. And Everett De Roche's script, when it isn't belabouring the point, is effective and drives the pace well. Recommendation to you Rudy, worth a look to see how to effectively make a horror flick on a low threshold of pain.

ScaryMinds Rates this movie as ...

  Worthy of it's claim of being an Aussie classic