• Patrick (Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack)

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: March 25th, 2014.
    Director: Richard Franklin
    Cast: Robert Thompson, Susan Penhaligon, Robert Helpmann, Rod Mullinar
    Year: 1978
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    The Movie:

    Directed by Richard Franklin in 1978, Patrick is the story of a young man named, duh, Patrick (Robert Thompson) who, after killing his mother and her lover, falls into a coma and spends the rest of his days in a small, secluded hospital. When an attractive new nurse named Kathy (Susan Penhaligon), who is fresh out of some marital problems and in dire need of a job, is hired to work at the hospital he’s staying at comes on the scene, Patrick starts communicating with her. He does this by using his ‘sixth sense’ which involves moving objects around the room and leaving her messages on the type writer.

    This leads to problems, however, as Patrick starts to feel for the nurse. Given the fact that she is in the middle of some domestic problems herself as she tries to figure out if she should go for the hunky and rich doctor or try and reconcile things with her ex husband, you can see how this might lead to some stress for both parties. And then there’s the doctor in charge of the hospital. This cold and clinical man has no interest in preserving Patrick’s life or trying to foster any communication with him. Instead, he only wants to pull the plug on him to save the hospital some money and get him out of his hospital. Things get complicated and somewhat creepy when Patrick’s feelings for the nurse begin to manifest in an increasingly violent manner and people start turning up dead….

    While it’s slightly derivative of Brian De Palma’s Carrie, Patrick manages to be much more than just a clone of the 1976 American film made for MGM. Sure, they obviously share a few themes and ideas, but Patrick’s setting and characterizations set it apart from De Palma’s faster paced and more horrifying earlier effort. This is a bit of a slow burn, but Franklin maintains obvious and deliberate control over the pacing of the picture, letting us really get a feel for the sterile hospital settings and allowing us to make up our own minds about the morals and worth of the different characters that make up its staff.

    Performances are good, with Thompson saying more with his eyes than a lesser actor could with loads of dialogue. Penhaligon is adorable in the female lead role and it’s easy to see why our patient would start to obsess over her. She’s pretty and she’s nice and most importantly of all, she seems to care. The movie doesn’t really pick up until the last forty minutes or so but it spends its opening half carefully and deliberately building itself up. This ends up working in the movie’s favor once the ‘horror’ aspect of the story kicks into high gear and Patrick’s emotions get the best of him. Short on gore but high on suspense, the Hitchcockian influence is apparent and Patrick should please most fans of the genre. It’s well made and well acted and even if it does seem a little slow in spots, ultimately it delivers some quality weirdness.


    Severin brings Patrick to Blu-ray for the first time in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. There is some softness here and there that stems back to the photography but detail is much stronger than it has been in the past and colors fare nicely here too. Black levels and shadow detail are also much stronger and there are no noticeable issues with any major compression artifacts, edge enhancement or noise reduction. The movie, for the most part, looks great on Blu-ray. You’ll really notice it in close up shots (check out the caps of the eyes below) but also in medium and long distance shots as well. The underwater shots understandably look less than pristine but it’s reasonable to expect that. This would seem to be a pretty solid representation of the source material.

    Viewers are given the choice of watching the film in English or dubbed in French, Italian or Spanish. The previous DVD releases from both Elite and Synapse did not include the Italian track. Why would that matter? Because that version includes a score courtesy of Goblin, making this a very interesting variation. The bad news? Each of the four audio options is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, there are no lossless audio options offered here, which is a shame. On top of that, there are no English subtitles offered for any of the alternate language tracks on the disc. With that having been said, the tracks are fine. Dialogue is clean and clear and any hiss or distortion that makes its way into the mix is minor. But who wouldn’t prefer lossless audio and proper subtitles?

    Fans of the film will no doubt be familiar with the feature length commentary with director Richard Franklin as it was included on the previous DVD releases. It’s mostly a technical commentary so those interested in the behind the camera activities that go into making a movie like this will find much to like. Franklin also shares some amusing stories about people he’s worked with on various projects. Overall, it’s a very solid commentary that’s worth a listen for fans of the movie. Worth noting, however, is that roughly half way through the film there is an audio taped segment with Everett De Roche. While it’s not uninteresting to hear his thoughts, it seems somewhat out of place in between the two segments with the director and the sound quality isn’t quite as good as the rest of the commentary. It’s a minor complaint, however, and again it doesn’t really take anything away from the track. Animated menus and chapter selection are also included.

    New to this release are fifty minutes worth of interviews with the late Richard Franklin, writer Everette DeRoche, producer Anthony Ginnane and cast members Susan Penhaligon and Rod Mullinar. This material was originally recorded for Mark Hartley’s Ozploitation documentary Not Quite Hollywood back in 2008. Penhaligon goes first and talks about her thoughts on the script and the part and what it was like shooting in Australia, followed by Rod Mullinar who shares his thoughts on the movie, noting that it was very contemporary compared to the historical films that were popular at the time. He also expresses his admiration for the script, the director and the cast. Franklin talks about how he wanted to make a film that would appeal to a large international audience and then goes on to talk about how he did that, and DeRoche shares some stories about writing the script and what made the story unique in the Australian film industry at the time and where he got a bunch of the ideas for the movie from. Anthony Ginnane talks about working with Franklin, the cultural integrity of the film’s director, the casting, the success of the movie and more.

    There’s also a separate Vintage TV Interview With Richard Franklin included here that runs just over twenty minutes. There’s some background information given on him and then some info about his work on Road Games, and from there Franklin appears and talks about the merits of car chases and murder scenes. There are quite a few clips from his movies used here as well. It’s pretty interesting, particularly when Franklin starts talking about the trouble involved in selling one of his movies to a major American distributor.

    Outside of that we get a trailer for the feature, a trio of TV spots, menus and chapter selection. This was advertised as a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack but materials sent for review included only a Blu-ray disc.

    The Final Word:

    Patrick is a well crafted thriller and it holds up quite well many years after it first debuted. It’s smart, it’s well acted and the direction is slick and clever. The Blu-ray debut from Severin fails to take advantage of a lossless audio option and doesn’t offer subtitles for the alternate language tracks, but the inclusion of the Italian track is interesting regardless and the solid transfer and additional extras make it quite a nice upgrade.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!