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Home > Film

Robin Ince's Top 30,000 Films Of All Time

#29,986: Patrick

27 June 2003

Recently Channel 4 gave us the Top 100 Most a Bit Creepy Moments in Scary Movies of All Time Show. It was a jolly good show and shown on a Monday when we all had a bank holiday and little else to do except watch Channel 4 for an aching nostalgia of things we had not seen in the first place.

For those of you who missed it, here are the bits that were most important amongst the various bits...

Alex Zane chose some spiders that made him feel a bit creepy as they moved around their web from Sam Raimi's Spiderman (not the Spiderman with the Sound of Music's Nicholas Hammond that attempted to excite us in the 70s), Jimmy Carr (the new Derek Nimmo that the people of Trinidad and Tobago have been dreaming of and are now ready to worship) chose the nude decaying lady in the bath from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining; Kate Thornton chose Jefferson Starship (I think she was confused by the question); and Richard Blackwood? He chose the dreadful and frightful freezing cold reality check of sitting and watching Eddie Murphy in Daddy Day Care and realizing that his beautiful dream of being a token English black comedian in Hollywood would be a greater failure than when Lenny Henry made True Identity. (The 'why do people feel it necessary to pretend Lenny Henry is funny' competition remains open, as open as it has been since Tiswas began. Those deeley boppers with images of Pik Botha must surely be won soon).


Despite Channel 4's exhaustive research, surprisingly no one, not even Mark Kermode, chose the most frightening screen image of all time: an Australian ballet dancer in a top hat and leggings, his fist filled with enticing lollies - the pure evil that is the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Who knows what pit of hate Robert Helpmann found within himself to create such a confectionery-laden monstrosity. He certainly enjoyed chilling children. Shortly after the release of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mr Helpmann was going to a friend's for dinner, the friend rang beforehand to ask him to have a word with his children as they had been so scared by his recently viewed performance. Mr
Helpmann happily agreed to put their minds at rest and tell them that he was merely an actor. Once the children got to the phone he adopted the persona of the childcatcher and said "I'm coming to get you children" - they screamed and ran. Itís this kind of emotional scarring that helps twist minds into the shape of
serial killers.


With the government wasting enough money to fund a Ken Loach film on their preposterous road tax advert starring that flying car, it seems surprising that no one at the half-witted advertising company realized that the best way to get the road tax message across would be with a sociopathic ballet dancer, rather than a
Dick Van Dyke look-a-like.

Robert Helpmann is dead now, but he has left his legacy - a fine performance in Powell and Pressburger's The Red Shoes, the quote 'the trouble with nude dancing is that not everything stops moving when the music does' and, of course, his performance as the doctor in film number 29,985, Patrick.

Most of you will have seen Patrick, it might be a half-remembered image pulled from the rear of a drunken mind, but you must have seen it on one of its many outings on the BBC, normally at five past midnight on a Sunday night - a slot now occupied by self-satisfied TV movies highlighting the real life plight of long forgotten stories from page three of The New York Post, generally on the theme of battling for the right to live or love or rear chickens when wheelchair bound in Tennessee and with a special guest appearance by Connie Chung.


Patrick on the other hand was a spooky but occasionally cak-handed fusion of Carrie and The Medusa Touch. It tells the story of Patrick, a young man who has been in a vegetative state since he murdered his foul violent mother and her lover in a bath with a surge of electricity. Patrick has been cared for in a creepy, shadow daubed hospital since the matricide by Dr Robert Helpmannn. Then one day a new nurse comes to town played by the English flower Susan Penhaligon, fondly remembered for her roles in Poldark and A Fine Romance. Her pretty blonde Englishness stirs something inside Patrickís brain patterns, and before long, Patrick is using telekinetic powers to cause destruction.

Firstly, he uses his telekinetic powers in ways which he believes will aid Miss Penhaligon, but before you know it, like all telekinetic monsters in a presumed vegetative state, he goes power crazy - but how do you kill a man who seems almost dead?

Patrick was directed by Richard Franklin, an Australian with a reasonable gift for suspense, he went onto direct Road Games, a film about a hitchhiker in trouble with Trading Placesí Jamie Lee Curtis and Reading Jailís Stacey Keach and then had the sheer gall to open the sluice gates of Psycho sequels by letting Norman Bates out of the asylum for Psycho 2 - a pretty decent effort considering the shadow falling over it from the original.


But whatever happened to Robert Thompson, the actor who so effectively played a man looking a bit evil whilst staying static in a bed? Sadly, Mr Thompson was cursed with looking a bit like Roger Daltrey, so the parts got smaller and smaller, though he did pop up in Prisoner Cell Block H as Klaus Werner. I have a vague memory of watching his episodes at 3am in the Central TV region and I think he might have been a psychopath or neíer do well, but I can't be sure. And Susan Penhaligon? She was in Holby City as a woman with grave concern written all over her face only last month.

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