Color, 1980, 92 mins. 34 secs.
Directed by Mario Landi
Starring Sacha Pitoëff, Gianni Dei, Mariangela Giordano, Andrea Belfiore, Carmen Russo, Paoli Giusti, Franco Silva, John Benedy
Severin Films (Blu-ray & DVD) (US RA/R1 HD/NTSC), Media Blasters (DVD) (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.66:1) (16:9)
Sporting a well-deserved reputation as one of the foulest, sleaziest Italian horror films around, Patrick Still Lives tries to pass itself off as a sequel to Patrick, Richard Franklin's very successful 1978 Australian horror film about a comatose young man wreaking havoc through telekinesis. This time we have another young man of the same name who also ends up in a vegetative state in a hospital bed, but that's pretty much where the similarities end as we get a different origin story and way, way, way more sex and nudity. A product of that strange period in Italian exploitation when horror, thrillers, and sci-fi were being seasoned with pornographic elements to keep up with the times (a la Play Motel, Porno Holocaust, etc.), this one features a staggering amount of bare flesh but really goes over the edge with a notorious murder scene involving a very long poker that can still make viewers doubt their sanity.
Following a nasty drive-by incident, young Patrick (Giallo in Venice's Dei) ends up at a country estate where he remains wide-eyed but unresponsive along with two other patients under the care of his father, Dr. Herschel (Inferno's Pitoëff). Soon the property (which will look awfully familiar to Burial Ground and Blood for Dracula fans) is filled with horny visitors including Stella (Giordano, flaunting it all once again), boyfriend Peter (Benedy), blackmailed parliament member and ex-champion swimmer Lyndon Cough (Silva), his wife Cheryl (Russo), and the nosy David (Giusti), all of whom are suspects in the bottle throwing responsible for Patrick's condition. Soon Patrick is using his supernatural powers to boil Mr. Cough alive in the swimming pool, but that doesn't distract the guests from arguing, drinking, screwing, sunbathing, and in the comic highlight of the film, engaging in a partially nude cat fight at the dinner table. Meanwhile the doctor's new secretary, Lydia (Belfiore), develops a sleepwalking habit and forges an erotic psychic bond with Patrick, who seems bent on killing everyone else on the premises before the weekend is over.
Though it starts off as a revenge mystery, Patrick Still Lives chucks that angle out the window after the first half hour or so (along with the whole blackmail thing) to focus on as many exploitative elements as possible in an hour and a half. Most of the cast shuck their clothes at random, the body count is very high, and director Mario Landi (who made this hot on the heels of Giallo in Venice for producer Gabriele Crisanti, Giordano's husband) compensates for the ragged budgetary limitations with some splashes of arty green and violet lighting to keep things visually interesting. You also get a pair of extremely aggressive German Shepherds, copious consumption of J&B, and a very good, catchy score by Berto Pisano, but everything else gets overshadowed by that scene that hits at the one-hour mark. In fact, when the film first hit American DVD in 2003 from Media Blasters' Shriek Show line, the company prepared two versions, a director's cut for more fearless markets and an edited one that omitted the more explicit shots for reasons that should be obvious.
In 2020, Severin Films premiered Patrick Still Lives on Blu-ray, uncut and featuring a scan from the 16mm negative featuring a disclaimer about some unavoidable discoloration in the elements. That means you get some minor flickering on and off in a handful of scenes, mostly confined to the first reel, but it isn't a major distraction and is less severe than the water damage on, say, Nightmare City. The earlier DVD looks softer and more filtered compared to the new Blu-ray (which has a simultaneous new DVD edition from Severin as well), with more detail and film grain in evidence throughout along with deeper blacks. The DTS-HD MA Italian 2.0 mono track sounds very good without any significant issues, with optional light yellow English subtitles provided. In addition to the Italian trailer (with subs), the disc also features a new interview with Dei, "C'est la vie" (11m12s), in which the actor (who passed away soon afterwards) talks about his entry in the film business, the lack of advice that led to him making some questionable choices, his decision to quit when one of his films ended up with porn inserts, his awareness of this film's cult reputation outside Italy, his unlikely music career, and a more recent project that marked his return in front of the camera.
Severin Films (Blu-ray)
Media Blasters (DVD)
Reviewed on October 25, 2020.