In “Patrick” (1978), a catatonic killer unleashes a waking nightmare of psychokinetic carnage

By on June 21, 2019

In Richard Franklin’s Ozploitation cult classic Patrick, foxy new nurse “Kathie Jacquard” (Susan Penhaligon) begins to question the condition of her patient “Patrick” (Robert Thompson) — who remains in a catatonic state three years after murdering his mother and her lover — right before he, as Severin Films notes, will unleash a waking nightmare of psychokinetic carnage.”

Watch Patrick — transferred in HD from the original negative for the first time ever by our friends at Severin Films — on Night Flight Plus.

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Patrick‘s suspenseful, darkly humorous story — about a psycho-kinetically-disposed catatonic patient at the Roget Clinic, a tiny private hospital in Melbourne, who has fallen in love with his nurse — was American-born screenwriter Everett de Roche’s second-ever screenplay (he’d emigrated to Australia when he was twenty-two years old).

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The film will likely remind some viewers of Brian DePalma‘s excellent adaptation of Stephen King‘s novel Carrie, as well as a few other late ’70s titles involving the powers of telekinesis, including two other films from 1978, DePalma’s film The Fury and Jack Gold’s British-French co-production, The Medusa Touch.

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Here we have a catatonic, telepathic killer stuck in a hospital bed with his eyes wide open — his only action being involuntary spitting — who soon begins to use his psychokinetic powers to manipulate events in Nurse Kathie’s personal life.

One of the original poster taglines spells it out pretty clearly: “Some people thought he was crazy… He appeared to be deaf, dumb and blind… None of them knew of the sixth sense: The power of PATRICK’S mind!”

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After its successful premiere screening at the Cannes Film Festival, Patrick — released in Australia on October 1st, 1978 — was bought up for distribution by over thirty more countries.

The film’s original score by Australian composer Brian May was replaced in the European prints by a new one composed by Italian progressive rock group Goblin, who partly used outtakes they’d composed for a TV series for director Dario Argento.

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One of the more interesting things we’ve read about Patrick is that Franklin’s Australian actors — they were almost all British-born expatriates — spoke clearly in the Queen’s English, as he’d desired.

His film’s small U.S. distributor, Monarch Releasing Corporation, however, felt their heavy English accents might hurt the film’s box-office receipts.

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Monarch re-dubbed the actor’s voices and also made noticeable edits, which Franklin wasn’t very happy about, trimming some scenes but extending others, including a conversation about euthanasia.

They also made cuts to the film’s ending, which Franklin felt destroyed his original intentions.

Read more about director Richard Franklin and Patrick below.

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Anthony Perkins and Richard Franklin on the set of Psycho II

Australian director and eventual Alfred Hitchcock protégé Richard Franklin (b. July 15, 1948, in Brighton, Melbourne) had already been a member of the legendary English director’s Australian fan club since his early teens.

Franklin ended up enrolling at the University of Southern California’s film school, where he took classes alongside notable directors like George Lucas, John Carpenter, John Milius and Robert Zemeckis, among others.

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Franklin finally got the chance to meet his biggest cinematic influence in 1967, when he was nineteen.

He had wanted to screen Hitchock’s Rope at USC, which led to Hitchcock accepting his invitation to come to USC to give a lecture during what was the director’s second career retrospective ever.

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After graduating, Franklin returned to Australia, where his first work as a director was lensing four episodes of a TV drama called “Homicide,” as well as a sex comedy, The True Story of Eskimo Nell (1975), and under the name “Richard Bruce” he directed the comedic soft-core adult feature Fantasm (1976).

It’s safe to say that Franklin did not effectively burst on to the cinematic scene down under until he began to pursue working on Patrick, his very first suspense-thriller theatrical feature, and an attempt at an internationally-appealling genre film which made no particular reference to Australia.

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In a interview with Cinema Papers (August-September 1980), Franklin says that the thriller form was “incredibly intricate and satisfying.”

“You are dealing with highly extreme states of real life, like murder and death, and there is a great deal of freedom to indulge one’s imagination. Not many people have seen these things in reality, so they see murder on the screen relative to the conventions of cinema, rather than reality.”

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Franklin would continue directing high-profile Hitchcock-ian horror films right into the next decade, beginning with 1982’s Road Games, starring Jamie Lee Curtis (who Franklin had met on the set of John Carpenter’s The Fog) and Stacy Keath.

Franklin had given screenwriter Everett de Roche a copy of Hitchcock’s Rear Window screenplay prior to his writing Patrick, which after de Roche read he commented to Franklin, “Wouldn’t it be great in a moving vehicle?”

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Franklin and de Roche worked on the screenplay for Road Games — which features “cat & mouse”-type “road games” between a serial killer truck driver and a young female hitchhiker — in the Fiji islands, where Franklin was busy co-producing Randall Kleiser’s The Blue Lagoon (1980).

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Franklin then followed Road Games up with a great assignment for anyone who loves Hitchcock’s films as much as he does, the long-awaited sequel to Psycho (1960), called, what else?, Psycho II (1983).

Franklin’s film once again starred Anthony Perkins (as psycho “Norman Bates”) and Vera Miles, both from the legendary film’s original cast, along with the lovely Meg Tilly added as Norman’s romantic interest.

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Watch Ozploitation cult classic Patrick and other cult hits from our friends at Severin Films on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.