Monday, December 22, 2008

Patrick Still Lives (1980): or, You Can't Hide Your Flyin' Eyes

Way back in August of 2007 I reviewed a little-known, little watched movie from 1978 called Patrick, in which a comatose pervert with telekinetic powers goes for the poltergusto with his beautiful young nurse--a course of (in)action that obviously can end only in tragedy. While it had a winning premise and a few appealing scenes, Patrick was stifled by pacing problems and a lack of willingness to "GO THERE." I wrote at the time, "[Patrick] just doesn't go far enough off the deep end to be really enjoyable...If it had been tighter, this might have been a pretty good thriller; if more inept, perhaps a so-bad-it's-good nugget of joy. As it is, unfortunately, it just comes off as mediocre."

Well, leave it to the Italians to pick up the slack and do the shit RIGHT. Directed by Italian TV specialist Mario Landi, 1980's Patrick Still Lives (Patrick Vive Ancora) throws caution to the winds, jumps in with both feet, and cranks the insanity setting up to twenty. Absolutely bursting with blood, boobs, and J&B, this sequel* takes its original movie's premise, throws in a healthy dose of mad science, revenge tragedy and alcoholic perversity, and then hits "puree." The result is, in a word, delicious.

*It should be pointed out that Patrick Still Lives is a sequel to patrick in the same way that Fulci's Zombi is a sequel to Romero's Dawn of the Dead (and hence was originally released as Zombi 2)--70s Italian film companies were not at all above appropriating/remaking/revising foreign product for domestic audiences--though not the the same extent as the Turks. You can see why they'd want to cash in on something like Dawn of the Dead, but the motivation for ripping off an obscure psi-killer movie hardly anyone saw is still a little obscure. Just chalk it up to one of history's fortunate foibles and enjoy.

The movie opens with Professor Herschell (a wonderfully weird and menacing Sacha Pitoëff) stranded on the side of the road with car trouble, while his Peter Tork-lookalike son Patrick (Italian pop-star sensation Gianni Dei) fiddles around under the hood. Tragedy is quick to strike (and I mean QUICK--as in, less than 15 seconds into the movie's runtime) when the driver of a passing car throws a bottle out the window, which hits Patrick in the face, knocking him straight into a coma! There follows some effectively creepy surgery POV shots, with Herschell looming over his unresponsive son, and then we get the credits and some kinda cool low-rent Goblin-imation music courtesy Berto Pisano that's also HEAVY on the theremin--that's a plus, kids.

This is How Science Looks

Years later, a motley group of strangers has been summoned to Dr. Hershell's asylum/clinic/bed-and-breakfast resort for a free vacation/therapy weekend. In attendance are Member of Parliament Lyndon Cough (Franco Silva) and his nymphomaniac Eurobabe wife Sheryl (Carmen Russo), Stella Randolph (Mariangela Giordano) and her may-or-may-not-be lover Peter Suniak (played to total helmet-haired, fur-chested, porn-stache Eurosleaze perfection by John Benedy), and "fortunate son" diplomat-spawn David Davis (Paolo Giusti). Dr. Herschell's freshly hired assistant Lydia Grant (the SMOKIN' HAWT Andrea Belfiore) and dog-loving housekeeper Meg (Anna Veneziano) round out the cast.

The movie wastes no time establishing that, with the possible exceptions of David and Lydia, most of the weekend guests are fairly horrible people bringing more baggage than what's contained in their suitcases. The obviously alcoholic Mr. Cough is being blackmailed by some unknown political adversary, leading to friction with Sheryl (though not of the sort she'd like--despite her penchant for walking around with her nipples poking out the top of her bra, she can't get her performance-challenged spouse to give her a parliamentary seeing-to). The also-alcoholic Stella reveals quickly that she used to be a high-priced call girl, and spills the beans on Suniak's past as a drug dealer over an uncomfortable welcoming dinner. After a glass tumbler explodes in Lydia's hand at the same dinner (leading Dr. Herschell to scold, "Ms. Grant, in the future check the crystal PERSONALLY!"), spooky-chick Meg warns David to leave the clinic before something terrible happens. Of course the hunky Mr. Davis, smitten as he is with Lydia, won't listen.

The mystery of the asploding glass is soon solved when, having seen his guests settled in for the night, Dr. Herschell moseys down to his underground lab to visit his comatose son Patrick, who thanks to Daddy's mad-scientastic ways has been imbued with murderous telekinetic powers. (How Dr. H was able to accomplish this is unclear, though it obviously has something to do with the impressive bank of buzzing machinery and trio of horribly scarred, green-lit and naked coma patients he keeps behind glass just across from Patrick's room.) Turns out Dr. Herschell has spent the last several years narrowing down his list of bottle-throwing suspects, settling at last upon the group of possible coma-causers now bickering and getting drunk in his guest rooms. Under Daddy's direction, Patrick sets about taking revenge on those who might be responsible for his affliction in the most awesome and insane ways possible.

"Daddy is a tiger, and widdle Patty is a Lion Tamer! Awww, come on, son, this used to be your favorite game!"

First to go down is Lyndon Cough, who even if he didn't toss the bottle that put Patrick under still deserves what he gets for taking an early morning swim in the type of skimpy black speedo that no sixty-year-old man should ever wear, I don't care HOW Italian he is. Once mercifully underwater, Lyndon is attacked by a pool full of dry ice and BOILED ALIVE! His Oscar-Meyered body is found the next morning by Stella, who graciously gets her tits out for the occasion. Dr. Herschell determines that Cough died of ACUTE ALCOHOLISM, which apparently is known by Italian physicians to cause spontaneous being-boiled-alive-itis. This leads him to deliver the second-most quotable line in the movie: "It's clear that Mr. Cough's death was due to a fatality!" You know, Doc, I think you may have NAILED it there!

Meanwhile, Lydia is assigned to watch over Patrick while the doctor does his mad-doctory thing, and before long the horny terror is putting the telekinetic moves on her, asploding more glasses in her hand, typing messages like "I am waiting for you" on her office IBM Selectic, and hiking her skirt up with the power of his mind. (Note to self--subscribe to Pazzia Scienza Mensili STAT.)

Back at another distinctly Malabimbesque dinner scene, Stella comes in drunk and starts shit with the grieving widow Cough, leading to an energetic cat fight that coincidentally features a thinly veiled pussy. Embarassed by his friend's behavior, Suniak escorts Stella back to her room and pours all her J&B down the sink. When she tries to assuage him with sex, he replies archly, "I usually bang women, not whiskey bottles!" Stella shoots back that "The drugs have turned you into a faggot!" She shouldn't oughta said it, though, as Suniak blasts her with the all-time discussion ender prize-winner: "DIE ALONE, WHORE!"

Really, what can you say in response to that?

Patrick is just as surprised as you are, folks.

Things get sleazier and crazier at an alarming pace from here on out. Davis gets some disturbing messages from his inexplicable hobby-deck of tarot cards, Stella tries her seduction powers out on him only to get the shit slapped out of her repeatedly by the up-until-now hero of the piece, and Davis pays for his hooker-beatin' ways when Patrick forces him to hang himself over a well by a conveniently-placed steel hook through the neck!

Just when you think things couldn't get sleazier or more perverse, Stella goes down to the kitchen for a midnight snack and finds a flayed rabbit/dog/squirrel or something in the fridge--for no reason that's immediately apparent--and when Patrick finally gets around to doling out his telekinetic vengeance on the drunken former working girl...well, let's just say you might think twice before ordering the rotisserie chicken next time you're at the deli.

This movie just doesn't let up once it gets rolling, either. Patrick uses his psi-powers to summon Lydia to his room, plays Strip Nude for Your Paralytic, and engages her in hands-off psychic sex in a lengthy, awesome scene. Meanwhile Suniak and the Widow Cough try to escape, but the multi-tasking coma-god uses carbon monoxide and power-windows to make short work of them. It seems justice has been served, albeit with collateral damage (a medical technician is electocuted for no reason, and the presumably innocent Meg goes for a nude stroll and gets eaten by her dogs Jezebel-style), but when Papa Herschell informs his son that Lydia is also on the bottle-chucking shortlist, Patrick must decide whether to stick with the plan or make a last-minute revision to the scheme. No points for guessing which he goes for.

Coma Chameleons

Patrick Still Lives is a movie so insane, it could really be the poster child for "Only in Italian Exploitation" category. Gore, nudity, perversity and wild plot-developments galore, the movie just keeps giving and giving it to you until the climactic non-ending wraps everything up in one sleaze-dripping package.

As if that weren't enough, the disc from Media Blasters/Shriek Show also offers an interview with producer Gabriele Crisanti (who also produced sleaze epics Malabimba the Malicious Whore, Satan's Baby Doll, Mondo Cane 3, and Burial Ground) who has a lot of interesting things to say about the production--for instance, that Stella's sleazetastic death scene was not scripted, but conceived on-set after the writer had a bitter argument with the actress. (FWIW, that TOTALLY makes sense.) There's also an interview with aging pop star and total man-of-leisure Gianni Dei, who despite his high-billing and massive immobile screentime admits that he doesn't even remember the movie.

So if you're a lover of Italian Sleaze, Gore, and Sexploitation films, Patrick Still Lives is really more than you could even ask for. An improvement on the original in every way, this one gets 3 thumbs for sheer audacity. See this one. You won't believe your floating green eyes.


The Duke of DVD said...

Holy SHIT, this sounds like it could be entering my Top 10 Movies Of All Time (probably bumping out "The House Bunny"). Fantastic review, dearest Vicar, I was laughing from start to finish.

So many great lines in this movie, but that "Die alone, whore!" takes the cake. I simply must remember to use that as much as possible during my everyday life.

Tenebrous Kate said...

>>When she tries to assuage him with sex, he replies archly, "I usually bang women, not whiskey bottles!"

I don't see how the two are mutually exclusive, provided you change that "not" to a "with." See--a beautiful dovetailing of interests :)

This sounds like an *astonishing* movie that would've languished in the Unwatched Eurotrash Pile were it not for your keen eyes and rapier wit. Now it's rocketed to the tippy top of my MUST SEE list. Good work, sir!

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