Easter Egg: In the Special Features Menu, moving the cursor past the commentary track option, "KCI" will appear, and pressing 'Enter' will reveal the front and back of the Goblin soundtrack CD, and an amusingly gaudy theatrical poster.
Alfred Hitchcock devotee Richard Franklin spent some time in the U.S. during the 1960s, and observed the Master of Suspense during the production of "Topaz." Unlike Brian DePalma, Franklin's early suspense films were written by another writer, which made Franklin subjugate his Hitchcock riffing to the needs of the script. It was actually "Patrick" that brought Universal to Franklin's door, and ultimately led to his association with "Psycho II," in 1983.
While running nearly 2 hours, "Patrick" greatly benefits from a strong script, peppered with witty, self-referential dialogue, and sufficient nuances that reveal a good measure of thought went into the script. Writer Everett De Roche - who also scripted "Road Games" (which also deserves a DVD release) - has had a long association with Franklin, going back to the 1960s with the TV series "Homicide," and their latest 2002 collaboration, on "Visitors."
Originally, the American distributors shortened the film for pacing, and added an American dub track. Given the same treatment as "Mad Max," the film nevertheless established a loyal cult following among horror fans, and Elite's DVD marks the first time the film has appeared in its original Aussie version on DVD. (In Italy, the film was rescored by the rock group Goblin. Brian May's original orchestral score appears on the DVD, and Goblin's score is available on CD.)
A vast improvement over previous VHS releases, Elite's transfer has stable colours from a clean print, showing only minor, periodic speckles. The grain has been minimized without affecting the image clarity, and the odd colour scheme, derived from using Agfa stock, is very steady, with strong wood-grain and off-beige shades dominating the interior sets. The original mono mix is clear and well-balanced, and incorporates some interesting subtle effects when Patrick becomes highly possessive of his cute nurse. (Though an anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer, typing sound effects follow the onscreen printing of the 3 lead actors' names in the end title crawl, but the final name only appears as the credits begin to roll, making one wonder if the film was soft-matted for theatrical exhibition.)
The Special Features include the original Aussie trailer (full screen, faded colours, and pretty beat up, taken from a nicked PAL video master). The tighter American trailer plays up the telekinesis aspect, with more money shots, but neither trailer contains any actor or director credits.
Richard Franklin's commentary track (with an unbilled contribution from writer De Roche) is, for the most part, pretty consistent. There's a few pauses here and there, but Franklin goes into the bulk of the film's production, his cast, and the film's screenplay. Much like DePalma, Franklin loves Hitchcock, and those who missed the less-overt visual references will certainly find out the minor nods and in-jokes which are built into many shots (if not the shots themselves). It sometimes borders on the point of excessive, but it's to Franklin's credit that he never stops the film for an orgiastic, fan-boy montage, and keeps the story moving. There's very little gore in the movie, but animal lovers may find a reptilian lobotomy early in the film a bit disturbing.
© 2002 Mark R. Hasan