Patrick (1978)

I once had a quest to watch all the Australian horror I could get my hands on. Then I saw a Mark Savage movie and decided perhaps I didn’t have to be so completist about everything. This is going to sound strange coming from me, but sometimes it is in fact good to have standards. At any rate, this quest first introduced me to Patrick, and it blew me away the first time I saw it. Now, I don’t want to spoil things for you, but the second time it wasn’t as awesome as I’d remembered it, but it still stands up as a pretty decent horror flick. Anyway, they’re always better with Aussie accents.

Brain-dead Patrick. Or is he?

Brain-dead Patrick. Or is he?

Patrick is one of those guys who kills his mom and her lover and never quite recovers from it. The boy’s been in a coma ever since the “accident” happened. The doctor and nurses at the hospital where he resides believe him to be brain dead, and some of them even debate on whether or not it’s a good thing to keep him alive. That all changes when Kathy, a young woman recently separated from her husband, gets a job there. Though the battle-axe head nurse Matron Cassidy begrudgingly offers her the position, she makes no secret of her distaste for the newly ‘liberated’ woman’s situation. Kathy takes what she can get though, in the name of independence.

Clearly Cassidy has it out for her, because she assigns Kathy to room 15, a room she won’t even consider going into herself. This, of course, turns out to be Patrick’s room. Most of the nurses are used to Patrick’s room by now, what with the weird, seemingly random spitting episodes and his empty stare. They have no trouble going about their business while watching him, changing his bed, administering medications, etc. But Kathy is a little different; in fact, she thinks Patrick’s brain is still very much alive.

Kathy doesn't know what she's in for.

Kathy doesn’t know what she’s in for.

First, it’s just a feeling Kathy has. Patrick seems to be listening. Then, suddenly, her typewriter starts sending her messages that claim to be from Patrick himself. Soon, she asks Patrick to communicate with her; a spit twice if yes, once if no kinda deal. When Patrick follows her directions, Kathy has a hell of a time getting any of the staff to listen to her concerns. It doesn’t help that her personal life is in such disarray; the neurologist she’s dating can be kind of a dick, and her husband keeps turning up in her apartment! But things are weirder than that; it almost seems as though Patrick is jealous of the men in her life as strange things start happening to them. Can Kathy prove Patrick is using telekinetic powers to control his environment, or will everyone think she’s just a tramp and a quack?

A surprisingly good little flick, which might be the reason why it stood out in my head as really good the first time I saw it. I wouldn’t say it’s really good, but

Nurse nasty nun.

Nurse nasty nun.

it is better than average, and definitely worth a watch. What it is really good at is creating a legitimately creepy atmosphere with plenty of what-the-fuck moments, which is always a nice thing to have in a horror movie. Patrick’s stare is definitely the stuff of nightmares, and the filmmakers do a great job of maintaining the atmosphere throughout the whole film. A fast-paced gore-fest this is not; it shouldn’t surprise you to hear it’s more of the psychological thriller than a straight-up horror flick. The plot reminded me a bit of Romero’s Monkey Shines, which wasn’t made until a decade after Patrick. It definitely does different things, and scares in different ways, but there is an undeniable similarity there.

The drag is, I’ve only ever seen the film with the original score. It looks like there’s an Italian version out there with Goblin doing the soundtrack, and I can only imagine that makes the movie 10 times better, especially considering there are moments where the original score isn’t so great. So, if possible, get your hands on that version, and let me know how it is!


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