Thursday, March 27, 2014

Patrick (Richard Franklin, 1978)

Eyebrows or hand jobs, those are the subjects, and this is the dilemma: Should I start off my review of Patrick, the tale of a wide-eyed comatose patient and his comely nurse, by talking about eyebrows or hand jobs? (Can't you find a way to talk about both?) I wish I could, but I think most of you will agree, it's a rather difficult task. (I see. Does your review of this particular movie have to begin with an essay on eyebrows or hand jobs? I mean, what about Susan Penhaligon's legs?) Legs, eh? What an interesting idea. No, no, no, it has to be either eyebrows or hand jobs. No legs, no talk of hemlines or pink panties. Eyebrows or hand jobs. Let's toss a coin. If it's heads, I'll talk about eyebrows. If it's tails, I'll talk about hand jobs. And it's in the air. Oops, it fell down the sewer. Let me try again. And... heads it is. You mean to tell me that there isn't a single pair of tweezers to be found at the hospital at the centre of this wacked out movie? What am I saying? Of course there are tweezers, it's a hospital. The more important question is: Why aren't any of the doctors and nurses bothering to pluck the titular character's eyebrows? (Maybe they thought it was too much work.) Too much work?!? I don't want to live in a world where proper eyebrow maintenance is frowned upon. To make matters even more infuriating, the nurses shave Patrick's beard everyday. (Did it ever occur to you that Patrick left implicit instructions in his living will that if he should ever fall into a catatonic state that his unibrow remain unmolested during the duration of his coma? In other words, no matter how busy things get up there, not a single eyebrow hair is to be forcibly ejected without his direct say so. And given that he hasn't spoken or moved in over three years, the chances of him doing so are pretty far-fetched.)
Maybe so, but has he experienced a hand job administered by a plucky brunette nurse? Meaning, all Patrick might need to do beat this coma thing is to feel the soothing tug that only a well-orchestrated hand job can provide. Oh, sure, Doctor Rogot (Robert Helpmann) will tell you that good old shock therapy is the cure for what ails you, but don't underestimate the healing power of a quick under the covers hand job.
(What makes you think the other members of the hospital staff haven't tried the hand job method?) Are you kidding? While I would jump at the chance to receive a hand job from the enchanting Matron Cassidy (Julia Blake), some people might not be all that receptive to her terse tugging technique. Okay, I can understand not wanting to be tugged by Matron Cassidy (on top of having a terse technique, her hands are a tad on the boney side), but what about all those other nurses? Well, it's clear, from where I was sitting, that it probably never crossed their minds to give Patrick (Robert Thompson) a hand job.
And judging by the way Matron Cassidy grills the nurse before she hires them, it's obvious that very few sexual deviants get past the interview stage; the litany of sexual perversions she will not tolerate is quite expansive.
How do you explain the fact that Kathy Jacquard (Susan Penhaligon) was able to pull one over on Matron Cassidy? Well, things like, necrophillia and zooiphilia are sexual perversions of the highest order. On the other hand, giving hand jobs to comatose tossers is a trifle compared to penetrating a sheep or blowing your dead grandpa.
(How did this Patrick fella end up in a coma in the first place?) Excellent question. Say you're a quiet bloke who likes to keep to himself. But one day, while trying to brood in your bedroom, the sound of your mother's headboard crashing against the wall from the room next-door is preventing you from brooding in the manner you're accustomed. To make matters worse, the reason the headboard is crashing against the wall is because your mother's boyfriend is purposely plowing his probably pedestrian penis into her pussy in order to achieve a piss poor response of a pituitary nature. You would go insane, too, if you had to listen to that for seconds on end.
Long story short, Patrick winds up at Roget Clinic, a private hospital run by Doctor Roget and Matron Cassidy. Moving into a new apartment, and ready to start fresh, Kathy Jacquard hopes to land a job at that very clinic. Wearing a dark skirt, strappy heels and a cream-coloured blouse, Mrs. Jacquard is set to be interviewed. Like I said earlier, Mrs. Jacquard is grilled by Matron Cassidy about her perversions. Designed to weed out certain "types," the reason Matron Cassidy questions her this way is because she doesn't want lesbians, nymphomaniacs, or so-called "enema specialists" working at her clinic.
While I didn't catch all names of the "types," it's clear to me that the scene where Matron Cassidy lists these "types" is all the evidence I need to convince me that Julia Blake is an amazing actress. Seriously, the way she commands the screen right from the get-go is quite impressive.
At any rate, just as it looked like Matron Cassidy was about to reject Kathy, Doctor Roget shows up and hires her on the spot. However, in order to keep the new nurse on her toes, Matron Cassidy reminds Kathy that while Doctor Roget has the authority to hire anyone he sees fit, she can fire her ass whenever she wants.
As expected, or else there wouldn't be a movie, Kathy is put in charge of taking care Patrick in room 15 between the hours of noon and 9pm for very little money. On top of making sure his eyeballs are kept moist (Patrick never closes his eyes), Kathy must avoid his spit (Patrick has a habit of spitting on people), and, of course, prevent troublemakers from tampering with his unibrow. Just kidding about that last one. Though, not really, as no one actually does tamper with his unibrow over the course of the film.
Sharing her duties with Sister Williams (Helen Hemingway) and Nurse Panicale (María Mercedes), Nurse Jacquard slowly develops a relationship with Patrick. (How does one develop a relationship with a comatose slab of overly-eyebrowed man-meat?) Easy, really. While Patrick's primary senses are pretty much useless, he has managed to strengthen his sixth sense over the years.
Communicating via this "tugh" sound (one tugh means yes, two tughs means no), Nurse Jacquard and Patrick are getting to know one another. Of course, when Nurse Jacquard tries to show Matron Cassidy that she and her patient are basically chatting, Patrick goes back to being a vegetable. When saying tugh is simply not enough, Patrick starts to communicate by using a nearby typewriter.
Able to keep tabs on her wherever she goes, Patrick becomes jealous of Nurse Jacquard's relationship with her sort of ex-husband Ed (Rob Mullinar), they're separated, and, not to mention, her fling with Brian (Bruce Barry) a brash neurosurgeon. This jealously leads to some mild violence. (Mild violence?) Well, Brian nearly drowns at his own pool party and Ed burns his hands on a pot containing tuna casserole. You see, mild.
If you thought Julia Blake was amazing in the job interview scene, wait until you see the monologue she performs while giving Nurse Jacquard a second chance (she caught her giving Patrick a hand job - luckily for her, the hand job was still in the exploratory stages). The subject of the monologue has to do with euthanasia, death, and fear, and Julia Blake pretty much kills it in this scene. ("Kills it"?) Okay, she nails it.
I'll admit, watching acting that isn't terrible is not something I'm used to. That being said, Julia Blake also manages to wow the audience from a visual point-of-view as well. I mean, just look at her. No doubt channeling Sara Kestelman from Zardoz, Julia Blake imbues her performance with just the right amount of sternness. Yet, at the same time, she gives Matron Cassidy a decidedly salacious flavour; you just know that Matron Cassidy is into BDSM on weekends.
Providing the film with its only nylon moment, Julia Blake, wearing her funky nun-style nurse hat, her blue nurses uniform and a red wrap thingie, takes off her white nurse shoes and proceeds to sneak around the clinic in her stocking feet. And for that, I, and the rest of pervert community, salute you, Julia Blake.
While not actually scary or suspenseful in the classic sense, Patrick manages to get by on the creepy factor alone, as there's definitely something creepy about the way Robert Thompson's Patrick just lies there staring into space. And since the film's main antagonist doesn't really go anywhere, that means there's no need for elaborate stalking sequences that involve complicated camera angles. So, let that be a lesson to all you young filmmakers out there: Save money by making the killer in your horror movie an invalid. It's entirely up to you if you cast an actor with a robust unibrow.


  1. Hey, I really like your blog :) Almost every movie you feature on here I've heard of or seen. On the homepage, where the title of your blog is, there's a woman tongue-kissing a scab. What movie is that from?

  2. "Does Patrick want his handjob?" is my wife's cheeky codeword for "you are not being active enough under the sheets." Apparently I am not the world's greatest lover.

    1. Who in their right mind doesn't want a handjob? ...Oh, I see... (I just the read the rest of your comment.)