Wednesday, August 04, 2010

PATRICK (1978) - Richard Franklin

From the very first frames of this Aussie horror classic, you know you're in fine directorial hands. We see a pair of lovers (older, fleshier lovers) commingling in some kind of distorted reflection. That reflection turns out to be housed in a brass bed frame knob which turns out to be banging against a bedroom wall. This wall turns out to be directly beside the bedroom of the couple's strange teenage son who sits in his own bed, already catatonic, listening to them getting it on.

You probably don't need Oedipus Rex on your Kindle to figure out what happens next. The titular Patrick takes his Freudian revenge and goes quickly into a coma making for one of the more interesting bedside chillers this side of Misery. Except Patrick doesn't complain like Jimmy Caan when someone hobbles his legs. Patrick, well, he just spits.

Enter the comely young nurse tasked with Patrick's daily care. She takes an interest in his backstory, soon getting him to respond to her questions-- two loogies for "Yes," one loogie for "No." It isn't long before bedridden Patrick takes a liking to her, gets jealous and begins stalking her psychokinetically by mentally typing some choice four-letter phrases on her typewriter. And that's just the beginning of Patrick's skills. For a vegetable, he gets a lot of action. He even convinces the nurse with his mind to give him a tug-job beneath the hospital sheets.

Director Richard Franklin has been called the Australian Hitchcock, and in Patrick it shows. He can do suspense and do it playfully with a demonic wink. It's no surprise he was imported to the U.S. to the helm the unfortunate Psycho II. The homegrown Patrick is far superior. If you happen to be voluntarily bedridden, give him a moment of your time.

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