May 15, 2012

Patrick Still Lives (1980)

Directed by Mario Landi. Starring Sacha Pitoëff ("Professor Herschell"), Gianni Dei ("Patrick"), Mariangela Giordano ("Stella Randolph"), and Carmen Russo ("Cheryl Kraft"). Not Rated.

Source: Region 1 DVD (Shriek Show/Media Blasters)
Running time: 01:30:58 (General Release version)
Country: Italy

The original Australian version of PATRICK (which is apparently being remade by filmmaker Mark Hartley) is about a young man who, while in a coma, falls in love with a nurse and hurts those around her with his telekinetic powers as a result of his jealousy. The Italian version, PATRICK STILL LIVES, is sort of billed as a sequel, but it's basically a re-imagining since the "Patrick" in the film is someone else entirely who just so happens to find himself in the same situation as the lead character in the original, except PATRICK STILL LIVES is set in a wellness resort rather than a hospital.

I've seen many films with abrupt endings, but it's rare to see a movie with an abrupt opening. When the movie starts, it looks like we just got thrown into the middle of a scene that's been happening for a few minutes already. Patrick and his father, Professor Herschell, are stranded on the side of the road due to vehicle problems. As Patrick checks under the hood, a car passes by and one of its passengers throws a glass bottle out the window, hitting Patrick in the face and causing him to bleed heavily (either that or he got hit with a bottle of ketchup). Next thing you know, Patrick is in a coma. Yes, apparently getting hit in the face with a bottle will put you in a coma. Anyway, with the set-up out of the way (which only takes about ninety seconds), the story moves to the aforementioned wellness resort, where a group of strangers check in and get settled. Among them are a politician and his wife, a couple of random dudes, and an attention-seeking broad who likes to booze it up and walk around naked.

It's established that there's a separate section of the resort that guests are not allowed to enter, but it's not long before we find out that Patrick's father (also the owner of the resort) is conducting experiments on coma patients there with a team of doctors. The unconscious Patrick is there along with three other unknown patients, all of whom have wires and things hooked up to their heads. There's a subplot involving the politician, who was apparently invited to the resort by an anonymous person who has dirt on him and vows to keep his silence in exchange for some sort of bargain. During this time, Patrick experiences an awakening of sorts - not physically, but mentally - and is suddenly able to control things telepathically. Initially he attempts to seduce his father's blonde secretary (I don't blame him), but things take a deadly turn when he begins terrorizing the guests.

PATRICK STILL LIVES is directed by Mario Landi, who also made GIALLO A VENEZIA. I haven't seen it, but the general consensus with GIALLO A VENEZIA is that it's one of the sleaziest Gialli ever made, if not the absolute sleaziest in terms of sex and violence. That being said, it seems that Landi was one of those truly exploitative filmmakers who put sleaze over art. Andrea Bianchi (STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER) is another Italian director who comes to mind when thinking of filmmakers who consistently put out sleazy material and seemingly thrived on it. Anyway, not one to live down his reputation, Landi incorporated as much sleaze as he possibly could have into this film. I've seen much worse in terms of European exploitation films that unapologetically bring the sex and violence to the forefront, but PATRICK STILL LIVES is far from tame. The deaths are pretty gruesome (the most notable of which is a woman getting turned into human shish kabob with a steel rod) and the female nudity is plentiful. The uncut version of the film, which features about seventy seconds of extra footage, graphically shows one of the female actors masturbating. Good times.

The original Australian version of PATRICK is one of my favorite movies from the "Ozploitation" era. It's a solid, entertaining little thriller and very stylish to boot. So, you'd think an alternate version of that with beautiful Italian women, tons of sex, and gruesome creative kills would be a fucking slam-dunk here at Death Rattle Headquarters, but it's sadly not the case. PATRICK STILL LIVES is a really long ninety minutes. The sex and violence ultimately wasn't enough to make up for how sluggish and boring the film was, and this mostly has to do with the fact that pretty much every other character besides Patrick is the focal point. Not that I find people in comas to be particularly interesting, but there isn't a single likable character in the bunch, except for maybe Herschell's secretary, played by the naked gal pictured above, Anna Veneziano (pretty sure her character's name was "Lydia" in the film, but she's listed as "Meg" on IMDB). Part of what makes the original PATRICK so interesting is the relationship between the coma patient and the nurse who takes care of him, and how that relationship gradually develops throughout the film. Here, Lydia/Meg basically assumes the role of the nurse character, in that she becomes the object of Patrick's desires, but it's never really explored until the end of the film since Patrick is just sort of "there" for most of the movie while we're forced to deal with the various interactions between the other characters.

The back end of the film is decent because the violence at least picks up and all the annoying characters are permanently silenced. There's also a bit of a plot twist involving the guests of the resort and why they've all been invited there. As a whole, the movie is shot pretty well and features some decent special effects, including a recurring gag where drinking glasses explode just as they're about to be picked up. Another highlight is the gelled lighting used at certain points in the film, which adds some color to the mostly muted aesthetic. The gore effects look kinda lame, but they're somewhat admirable in how primitive they are. Despite the positive aspects of PATRICK STILL LIVES, I still felt like I was about to fall into a coma myself by the time it was over. Had the moronic characters been cut out and this been more of an Italian-flavored remake by a more competent filmmaker than a sleazy re-imagining, it would've probably been on par with the original, if not better. As it is, it's a snooze-fest with an uninteresting plot and some decent violence and nudity thrown in.

Score: 5

1 comment:

  1. Ah Giallo A Venezia. Ask Richard about that. I'm one of the few that has seen Patrick Still Lives but not Patrick. I'm backwards like that.