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The Hell Plaza Oktoberfest

The Hell Plaza Oktoberfest

Adam Jahnke - Main Page

Patrick: Special Edition

Patrick: Special Edition
1978 (2008) - Synapse

Regrettably, there are a number of horror icons who will not be appearing in the Hell Plaza Oktoberfest II. Alfred Hitchcock, for instance, will not be showing up this year. Neither will master of horror Stephen King. The best I can offer is Patrick, a cult item from the late 70s that sort of plays like a hybrid between King's Carrie and The Dead Zone directed by Australian Hitchcock disciple Richard Franklin. It's a stretch but hey, work with me here, people.

Robert Thompson plays the title character, a young man trapped in the creepiest, eyes-wide-open coma you've ever seen. Susan Penhaligon stars as Kathy Jacquard, the new nurse assigned to look after Patrick. It isn't long before strange things start to happen to Kathy, her estranged husband (Rod Mullinar), and her would-be boyfriend (Bruce Barry).

It seems that Patrick isn't quite the vegetable he appears to be. Years in a coma have developed the power of telekinesis in young Patrick. That deaf, dumb and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball.

As directed by the late Richard Franklin, Patrick is a creepy, highly entertaining little flick. Franklin paces his movie deliberately but what do you expect from a film where the antagonist spends virtually the entire time lying in bed. Despite this, the movie is never boring thanks to Franklin's skillful staging of the material and the top-notch cast (which also includes Robert Helpmann as the owner of the hospital and Julia Blake as the stern head nurse). Plus, the somewhat languid pace contributes to the effectiveness of the setpieces, particularly one of the most memorable “gotcha” endings of the era. I don't want to oversell Patrick. It's a movie that plays best if you go into it as a blank slate with no expectations. But I also don't want to sell it short. It's a pretty nifty movie and well worth checking out.

Synapse's new Special Edition gives the film a decent enough transfer and a perfectly serviceable audio track. Notably, this is the original, Australian version of the film. If you saw it during its original release in the States, you had to endure dubbed American voices (as was the case with the original Mad Max) and a shorter cut of the film. Needless to say, this is the preferred version of the movie. Extras include an informative commentary track by Franklin with a sudden, brief interlude by screenwriter Everett De Roche about halfway through. The commentary peters out a bit toward the end but Franklin is generally quite engaging, pointing out the numerous Hitchcock references in the film and adding interesting tidbits about the unproduced sequel to Patrick he and De Roche devised and the unofficial Italian "sequel", Patrick Lives Again. Franklin was an underrated director, going on from Patrick to helm such films as Roadgames, the way-better-than-it-should-have-been Psycho II and the fun junior espionage flick Cloak & Dagger. He passed away last year so his commentary here is particularly valuable. Other extras include the original American and Australian trailers and three TV spots.

A number of people I've talked to have fond memories of Patrick and I can certainly understand why. It's a fun movie to revisit on DVD and if you've never seen it before, it's definitely worth a look. Probably the best way to see Patrick for the first time is on TV late at night when you're flipping through the channels. Unfortunately, the days of stumbling across a movie you've never heard of before are fading fast. That's something of a shame. Movies like Patrick should be your own little discovery. It's engaging, weirdly creepy and great fun as a late-night snack.

Film Rating: B
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/B/C+

Adam Jahnke

Adam Jahnke - Main Page
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