From the mid-60s to the early 80s, filmgoers could be sure of one thing. If a film was in any way successful in America or Europe, an Italian filmmaker would end up directing an unofficial sequel. These films usually had next to nothing to do with the original film, beyond having a similar title and occasionally duplicating a few plot points. (Since these films were always dubbed before being released in non-Italian markets, dialogue, character names, and even plot points were often arbitrarily changed to take advantage of whatever film was currently popular at the box office.) Occasionally, you’d have a film that managed to overcome its “unofficial sequel” status. For instance, Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2 may have started out as a fake sequel to Dawn of the Dead but, thanks to Fulci’s skill as a director, the film transcended its origins and managed to establish its own identity.
Far more typical, however, was the case of Patrick Still Lives, a 1980 film that was sold as being a sequel to the Australian horror classic, Patrick. Though the film’s title suggests that it was meant to be a sequel, nobody involved in the production of Patrick had anything to do with Patrick Still Lives.
Patrick Still Lives follows the same basic plot as Patrick. A young man named Patrick (Gianni Dei) may be in a coma but he has psychic powers that he uses to kill various people. Again, Patrick falls in love with a woman, in this case a secretary named Lydia (Andrea Belfiore).
There are, of course, a few differences. Whereas Patrick opened with the title character murdering his mother and her lover, Patrick Still Lives opens with a hilariously awkward sequence in which Patrick gets struck in the head by something thrown from a passing car. Or, at least, that’s what I think happened. The way the scene is shot, it’s really hard to tell what exactly happens. At one point, Patrick is standing on the side of the road. Suddenly, he’s clutching his head and collapsing to the ground and we hear a car speeding away on the soundtrack. Patrick’s head is covered in ketchup, which I assume is meant to be blood.
Next thing we know, Patrick is in a coma and, with his eyes always open, he’s even duplicating the infamous stare that made the first film so memorable. Fortunately, Patrick’s father is a doctor who runs a spa. He keeps Patrick hidden in a locked room, where he’s wired to three other comatose people.
Eventually, five people show up at the spa. They’re looking to spend a relaxing weekend away from it all but Patrick is planning on killing them all…
There’s a few things that you notice immediately about Patrick Still Lives. First off, everyone’s naked, but, on the plus side, everyone has, at the least, an okay body and the men get naked too. The nudity is so gratuitous and so excessive that it actually becomes amusing. By the time the film’s male lead (who, it should be noted, had quite an impressive pornstache) was standing naked at a dresser and casually lighting a cigarette while ominous music played on the soundtrack, I simply could not stop laughing.
Secondly, you notice just how amazingly violent and bloody this film is. Whenever Patrick’s glowing eyes are superimposed over a scene, it means that someone is about to die in the most violent way possible. Dogs attack. A hook is driven into a face. An automatic car window is used as a tool for decapitation. The film’s most infamous scene features Mariangela Giordano being skewered, in close-up, by a fireplace poker.
That’s right — Patrick Still Lives is yet another Italian horror film that features Mariangela Giordano dying in the most unpleasant way possible. As such, along with Giallo in Venice and Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror, it forms an unofficial trilogy of films in which Mariangela Giordano is brutally murdered. Oddly enough, all three of these films were produced by Giordano’s then-boyfriend, Gabriele Crisanti. If my boyfriend ever produces a horror film, I better be one of the survivors and that’s all I’ll say about that.
The third thing that you notice about Patrick Still Lives is the dialogue. Now, I’m not sure if Patrick Still Lives ever got a “true” (and dubbed) release here in the States. I do know that my DVD features everyone speaking in Italian, with English subtitles. I have to admit that I’ve always resented that, in the U.S., so many Italian horror films are only available in a dubbed version. Often the dubbing is so terrible that it detracts from the film’s overall effectiveness and makes it impossible to fairly judge the performances. Well, with Patrick Still Lives, I got to see an Italian horror film in the original Italian and … well, the performances were just as bad in Italian as they probably would have been in badly dubbed English.
That said, I did enjoy reading the subtitles, largely because they were hilariously bad. It was almost as if someone had typed the film’s Italian dialogue into Google translator and transcribed the results. My favorite line? “The cause of death was fatality.”
Anyway, Patrick Still Lives is a pretty crappy film and I don’t recommend it unless you’re a diehard fan of Italian exploitation films. I do, however, recommend that you watch Zombi 2. That’s a really good film.