The Daily Horror Grindhouse: Patrick Still Lives (dir by Mario Landi)


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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.

Horror Film Review: A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985, dir. Jack Sholder)


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You’ll have to forgive me, but I watched A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) back on September 6th, 2008. So it’s been awhile. Luckily, this film doesn’t really ask you to know anything about the original. Also on the plus side, I’ve reviewed Rock: It’s Your Decision (1982) and Law Enforcement Guide To Satanic Cults (1994) this year, so imaginary subtext is still fresh in my mind.

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The movie opens up with Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton) riding the bus. Just in case we didn’t notice that Robert Englund is driving the bus, the movie makes sure we know right away that something isn’t right. They have Jesse looking like he doesn’t think very highly of himself in real life. Of course Freddy Kruger is driving the bus and a nightmare sequence ensues. Then we cut to Jesse waking up sweating. Heat plays a major role in this film because of course it does since Freddy was burned.

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Unfortunately, Jesse does go downstairs to find that Fu Man Chews cereal is very real. That’s scary! This movie is cerebral. I remember the original also playing with what was real and imagined, but here it’s a little different. The things here are mostly real in that something really is happening in Jesse and it does have him take actions in the real world against his will. Freddy isn’t something that gets you in your dreams. In this sequel, Freddy is inside Jesse slowly but surely taking hold of him. Doesn’t really fit with the first one, but who cares. It’s much better than just getting a retread of the original.

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Pretty quickly, Jesse and his girlfriend Lisa (Kim Myers) find a diary written by the girl from the first film. They find it because it turns out Jesse’s family has recently moved into the house from the first movie, unbeknownst to anyone but the dad. One of the things people might latch onto in the hopes of reading gay subtext into this movie here is the “No (out of town) Chicks” sign on his door. Yes, because kids in high school are totally not so juvenile to have something like that on their door. And just in case we don’t remember that kids at that age are that juvenile. When Jesse and his friend are forced to do pushups by their coach on the field because they were fighting, they of course assume the coach must be “queer” because they know he frequents an S&M club.

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While we are here. I believe the cleaning the room scene pictured above means he’s gay about as much as I believe the girls from Teen Witch (1989) went home and made out with each other after the I Like Boys musical number.

As stupid as they are, these kind of scenes are all over 1980s movies. Remember this one from Risky Business (1983)?

Hell, going back to Teen Witch again. The infamous Top That! rap is just as goofy.

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The first time we really see Freddy truly taking hold is when Jesse appears to leave his house in the middle of the night. He goes to the S&M club where his coach goes. It takes no time at all for the coach to spot him and punish him by making him run laps at the school gym. Of course they didn’t mention the coach was into S&M for anything. I can’t think of one off the top of my head, but movies from this period loved to throw in characters who were perceived sexual deviants, then punish or kill them in a manner similar to what turns them on. That’s what happens here to the coach. However, instead of Jesse waking up in his bed to find out the coach is dead the next day. He is actually brought home by the police, meaning it really happened. This obviously scares the crap out of Jesse.

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And things only spin further and further out of control as Freddy manifests himself more and more in reality. This is another scene I’m sure is supposed to seal the deal on the gay subtext.

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The gay is trying to get out of him so he flees being with his girlfriend to barge in on his friend. Of course he goes to his friend. This isn’t a big budget film we’re talking about here. The coach is dead, his parents think he’s on drugs, and Freddy just manifested himself while he was with Lisa. Who else is he going to go to but his friend? He’s the only other character of consequence left in the movie.

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And this line that Jesse says shortly after coming into his friend’s room means a penis if you are in middle school. This is where the film does run into some issues for me. Up until now, the movie did a good job of showing Jesse slowing losing his mind as Freddy took further and further control, but now he literally appears to jump into reality as if Jesse were an incubator. It eventually kind of explains it, but I wish they could have smoothed this out a bit more. Especially seeing how good of a job I think Mark Patton did up till now with the character of Jesse.

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After Freddy runs wild at a party, Lisa goes to where Freddy used to work. There was a scene earlier where Lisa took Jesse there.

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This is where Lisa tries to get Jesse to fight Freddy’s control over him. In fact, we can hear Jesse sometimes and it’s clear that Freddy hasn’t destroyed Jesse quite yet. Or you can read this as reparative therapy with Lisa trying to call Jesse back to being straight. Even going so far as to kiss him because that’s never used in films to draw characters back from the dark side in a movie.

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Then we get the ending of Ghostbusters (1984) in that Jesse emerges from the charred outer skin of Freddy. And then that little bit at the end of the movie just in case we weren’t sure that they were going to make more of these movies.

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And I’m sure you can read this the way you can the ending of Taxi Driver (1976) in that Jesse has only resolved this episode, but hasn’t dealt with the real issue. And I’m just coming up with these things off the top of my head without actually referring to anyone else’s posts.

As a follow up to the original, I like it. They tried to do something different that still drew from the source material. I really did like Mark Patton’s performance in this.

As a horror movie in general. It’s not really scary in the traditional sense. You don’t perceive something or someplace as now being dangerous and a source of fear like a regular horror movie does. In that sense, it’s actually even scarier because Jesse does nothing, but is simply taken over just because. Near the end of last year my brain turned on me and I wound up in the emergency room. They didn’t know what was wrong with me and sent me home. It took around five days or so to come out of it. While I was in it, among other things, I honestly believed I was trapped in some sort of Matrix-like prison that just looked like reality. I kept looking for anything that could be a flaw in what my brain kept telling me wasn’t real. It’s an absolutely terrifying thing.

As for the supposed gay subtext in the movie. It’s just not there. You can add up all the scenes you want and apply any meanings you want to them, but it doesn’t means it’s there. I’m transgender and Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) meant something to me as a kid. It doesn’t mean that the scenes where Robert Patrick is seen having transformed into a woman didn’t strike a note in me because they did. But it doesn’t mean that there is transgender subtext in it or anything that happens to have shapeshifting between genders. So please don’t take what I said as trying to take away something that might be special to you. I have no desire to do that. It’s just that you are reading your own meaning into it, not one that was hidden away and discovered by you.

Now I need to get back to something less serious. I’m in the middle of the first Mostly Ghostly movie and it’s not as stupid so far, but pretty close.

Horror on TV: Baywatch Nights 2.14 “Nights to Dragon One”


Oh my God, y’all are going to love this.

In this episode of Baywatch Nights, David Hasselhoff and Angie Harmon are hired to track down a missing man and his daughter.  Their search leads to them becoming literally trapped inside a virtual reality where they either have to defeat the crazed Game Master (Vincent Schiavelli) or die!  There’s even a scene where Angie Harmon has to pick up and roll a giant die!  Taking full advantage of the inherent ludicrousness of David Hasselhoff’s screen persona, this is an episode that has to be seen to be believed.

So, watch below and believe.

Horror Film Review: Patrick (dir by Richard Franklin)


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Patrick, a 1978 horror film from Australia, opens with the title character (played by Robert Thompson) watching as his mother makes love to her boyfriend.  The first thing that we notice about Patrick is his stare.  It’s intense and more than a little unsettling.  (Actually, to be honest, the first thing we notice about Patrick is his head of blonde hair.  But that stare is a close second.)  The next thing that we notice about Patrick is that he doesn’t speak.  Instead, he just stares.  Eventually, when his mother and her boyfriend are taking a bath, Patrick drops a heater into the water and electrocutes both of them.

Yes, Patrick has some issues.

When we next meet Patrick, three years have passed.  He’s in a coma now and spends all of his time laying in a bed in a private hospital.  Everyone says that he’s brain dead, despite the fact that he still reflexively spits.  The head nurse, the bitter Matron Cassidy (Julia Blake), hates the fact that Patrick is being kept alive.  As she tells a new nurse, she feels that he is a waste of space and she wishes that she could just turn off the machines that are keeping Patrick alive.

Strangely, Patrick shows no physical signs of having been in a coma for three years.  (One doctor points out that Patrick hasn’t even lost any weight during his time in the hospital.)  And then, there’s the fact that Patrick’s eyes are always open.  Even in a coma, he has the same intense stare.

An idealistic new nurse named Kathie (Susan Penhaligon) takes an interest in Patrick.  Over the objections of Matron Cassidy, Katie tries to talk to Patrick.  Kathie becomes convinced that Patrick’s spitting is not merely a reflex action but it’s actually his attempt to communicate.  Kathie becomes obsessed with proving the Patrick can still respond to the outside world.

And, in any other film, this is the type of storyline that would ultimately lead to a very inspiring conclusion, in which the idealistic nurse’s faith is validated and the stricken patient is finally allowed to find a measure of happiness and dignity.

However, Patrick is a horror film.

Kathie does eventually discover that Patrick can see and hear.  Patrick does know what’s going on in the outside world.  But what Kathie doesn’t expect is that Patrick turns out to be a bit of an obsessively jealous pervert.  Also, it turns out that Patrick has the power of telekinesis.  Soon, he’s using a typewriter to send Kathie messages like, “It’s time for Patrick’s handjob.”

Patrick also uses his powers to punish any man who he feels is getting too close to Kathie.  This includes Kathie’s husband, Ed (Rod Mullinar).  First, Patrick causes Ed to seriously burn his hands on a hot casserole dish.  Then he traps Ed in an elevator, forcing Kathie to beg for her husband’s life.

Patrick is a surprisingly well-acted and effective little horror film, one that spends as much time on maintaining the proper melancholy atmosphere as it does on trying to shock the audience.  The end result is an intelligent little gem that will make you think even as it attempts to scare you.  That said, my main memory of Patrick will always be that stare.  Seriously, it was so creepy!

A remake was released in 2013 but I have yet to see it.  However, I have seen the film’s unofficial Italian sequel and that’s what I’ll be reviewing next!

 

Halloween Havoc!: Miriam Hopkins in SAVAGE INTRUDER (Avco Embassy 1970)


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SAVAGE INTRUDER (aka HOLLYWOOD HORROR HOUSE) is the psychotronic slasher version of SUNSET BOULEVARD, with a dash of PSYCHO thrown in for good measure. Glamorous 30s star Miriam Hopkins plays Katherine Packard, an alcoholic has-been, but this is no WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE. It’s demented, sleazy, unsavory, and a good time!

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We start with some stock footage of Hollywood’s Golden Era, then the credits roll over shots of the decrepit Hollywood sign). (If you think you recognize the film premiere of THE DANCING CAVALIER, you’re right! It’s lifted from the film-within-a-film in SINGIN IN THE RAIN). The next scene shows us a young man following a middle-aged woman from a bar. He breaks into her home, conks her on the noggin, and starts sawing off her hand with an electric carving knife! When she wakes up screaming, he pulls out his hatchet and chops her to bits. He’s a serial killer who’s…

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Hallmark Review: Jesse Stone: Lost In Paradise (2015, dir. Robert Harmon)


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Well, it’s been 5 years since I last watched a Jesse Stone movie. That was Jesse Stone: No Remorse (2010). I remember that one being quite awful. This one isn’t. I hope this is a sign that Hallmark is pivoting when it comes to the material in their films. Yes, it’s just an average detective story, but it looks, feels, and uses much more adult material. Thank goodness! At times I feel like I’m watching Hallmark: The Heart Of Infantile Adults network. Yes, Jesse bitches a little bit about cellphones in this, but I buy that as part of his character, not as something put in to pander to people who don’t like cellphones. In fact, he really doesn’t complain about cellphones in general, but about texting.

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The first question on your mind is probably whether you can jump into the series with this film. Yes, but you will feel like you have been dropped into a moving current. You really won’t be lost, but it seems to very much pick up where it left off. In this case, Jesse Stone (Tom Selleck) is working in Paradise, Massachusetts. The movie revolves around an unsolved killing that has been attributed to a man known as the Boston Ripper, played by Luke Perry. But it’s still an open case cause they really can’t quite pin it on him even though they have put him behind bars for three similar murders. Stone is curious to figure it out.

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There’s also this subplot involving this girl that Stone finds on the street and helps out. It might have ties to earlier material, but the only tie to the material in this movie I noticed is that helping her is like preventing a possible future victim of someone like the Boston Ripper.

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There’s honestly not much else to say. The case is somewhat interesting, but the movie really isn’t about the case in particular. It’s like the title suggests, Jesse Stone is lost in the metaphorical paradise and lives in the literal town of Paradise. It’s about a transitory period in his life. Heck, they even put up this title card at the start just in case you don’t pick up on that.

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If you’re used to the usual Hallmark mystery movies, then this isn’t one of them. It’s a welcome change. Nothing special, but I recommend it.

Halloween Film Review: R.L. Stine’s Mostly Ghostly: Have You Met My Ghoulfriend? (2014, dir. Peter Hewitt)


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You might have noticed that I referred to the recent R.L. Stine movie The Cabinet Of Souls as “Children’s Horror”, but call this one “Halloween Film Review”. That’s because this movie and that one are miles apart from each other. While The Cabinet Of Souls was geared towards children, it was still a legit horror movie with genuinely creepy bad guys who did truly evil things. As you may remember, we see Dr. Hysteria kill a kid right in front of us and then say, “you were a good worker.” This is a series of lame sketches that happen to involve supernatural forces. At least this time I recognize more of the Disney crew.

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That’s Eric Allan Kramer from Good Luck, Charlie that plays the dad, or for bad movie lovers: Ator from Quest For The Mighty Sword (1990) AKA Troll 3. Calum Worthy from Austin & Ally is in this as the brother of the main character. Roshon Fegan I recognize from Shake It Up and he plays one of the ghosts from the first Mostly Ghostly movie. And for some reason they also roped Bella Thorne into this. I say it that way because she is barely in the movie. I know it’s cause her mom Tamera Thorne is a co-producer, but it’s a complete waste having her in this. Speaking of other well known actors who are barely in the movie. This was the last onscreen appearance of Joan Rivers. Who I believe is one scene.

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The movie begins with our main character Max Doyle (Ryan Ochoa) walking past a graveyard. Apparently, he has some ring that protects him from this guy.

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That’s Toni Basil who is going to give us a big exposition dump. I apologize, but after reviewing Slaughterhouse Rock, I will think every supernatural character who only exists to explain things is Toni Basil. This is actually some creature named Phears (Charlie Hewson). Because he plays on your worst fears of bad children’s cartoon villains. He resurrects Emma Twitchel (Caroline Lagerfelt) who was once the star of The Moscow Circus. What a star of The Moscow Circus is doing buried in an American suburban neighborhood might confuse me if I didn’t know that Bruce Lee is buried in Seattle. He then tells us, I mean her the backstory on why he needs her. It’s a lot of crap to say that there are two teenage ghosts, a world domination plan, and a magic ring that Max has that prevents it. Phears wants her to go and posses Max to drive him crazy since Phears himself can’t leave the cemetery. What follows is a bunch of stupid comedy sketches. Seriously, the film barely cares about it’s own plot.

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Like this scene where the ghosts help lift Max up the rope during gym class. I’m sorry, they help him up Lester. The gym teacher names all of her equipment. The side horse is Jimmy, the medicine ball is Eric, and the high bar is Tiffany. That combined with the scene where one of the ghosts looks inside of him to find a sleeping woman means if I were in middle school I might think this movie has LGBT subtext in it. Has as much basis in reality as the Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985) stuff. I’ll review that soon.

As you can imagine, the rest of the film is just a series of stupid jokes revolving around being possessed and having two invisible people help out Max. It’s all super childish stuff.

The only other things I want to mention are technical.

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When they look at this computer screen in the movie we see it as if we are the computer screen. Why?

Then there’s shots like these.

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I can sort of understand the blurring on the ring, but what’s with the other ones? I seriously doubt anyone would be confused about where to look without the blurring.

The worst and best part is that the ending of this that seems to be setting itself up for another sequel. The worst part is that a sequel could still be in the works, but the best part is that maybe it isn’t since The Cabinet Of Souls is what they made this year. This one is a total skip.