Tag Archives: Susan Penhaligon

Patrick (1978)


By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Comatose patient has telekinesis.

Patrick (Robert Thomspon) lies in a coma inside a hospital three years after murdering his parents. Kathie (Susan Penhaligon) is the new nurse hired to look after him. She notices early on strange things occurring whenever she’s in Patrick’s room and begins to believe that he may have special powers. Her relationships with both her ex-husband (Rod Mullinar) and her new love interest (Bruce Barry) also become affected by bizarre, unexplained happenings that she feels Patrick is causing, but can’t prove. Dr. Roget (Robert Helpmann), who runs the hospital, and Matron Cassidy (Julia Blake), the head nurse, refuse to believe any of this and proceed to end Patrick’s life, by cutting the power to the machine that keeps him alive only to find this to be much more of a challenge than they expected.

This was the first thriller directed by Richard Franklin, a disciple of Alfred Hitchcock, after having shot two soft core porn films before this one. While on the technical end it’s quite polished the pace is slow and takes too long to get to any type of genuine scares. For the first 40 minutes the only impressive stunts that Patrick does is open a window, via telekinesis, and slightly move a statue that’s sitting on a desk, which for some viewers won’t be enough to keep them engaged. In fact the full range of his powers never gets put on display until the very end and instead should’ve been seen much sooner, versus the subtle little tricks that he does, which aren’t as impressive or interesting.

How Patrick got into a coma is never fully explained. The opening flashback scene shows him electrocuting his parents as they sit in a bathtub by throwing a heat lamp into the water, but nothing shown for what he does after this. In the original screenplay, written by Everett De Roche, Patrick jumps off a ledge after witnessing his wife being unfaithful but Franklin wanted a darker side to Patrick, so the parricide motive was used, which is fine, but you still got to also show what causes his coma, which this film never does. There’s also no explanation for his psychic powers. Did he get these abilities after becoming comatose, or did he already have them before and if so how did he acquire them?

The supporting cast, particularly Helpmann and Blake, who play the autocratic, terse talking, authoritative figures to the hilt, is the most entertaining thing about the movie.  Penhaligon is okay, but her character is hard to understand particularly when she reaches under the bed sheets to fondle Patrick’s penis, happens twice, or kiss him on the lips, which probably no one else, especially as creepy as he looks and is, would dream of doing. When Patrick begins typing out messages on a nearby typewriter, via psychic powers, Penhaligon doesn’t run out of the room in shock and fear like anyone else would, but instead acts like she’s cool with it. Also, when Patrick uses his abilities to trash her apartment, which she initially thinks was done by her ex, she doesn’t call the police and even invites the ex back to her place later on, when most other people would’ve cut-off all communications with him.

For extremely patient viewers it might be worth it, but a 112-minute runtime, which was originally 140 minutes on the first cut, is too long to sit through for such little that actually happens. More special effects and more of backstory to Patrick and how he became the way he is, both physically and psychologically, was needed. Remade in 2013.


My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: October 1, 1978

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Richard Franklin

Studio: Filmways Australasian Distributors

Available: DVD, Amazon Video, Fandor, YouTube

Nasty Habits (1977)

nasty habits 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Watergate in a convent.

It’s the Watergate scenario all over again only this time inside a convent with nuns. It’s a unique idea for sure that unfortunately doesn’t work because the screenplay by Robert Enders, which is based on the novel by Muriel Sparks keys in on only one angle and then plays it out until it’s boring. It’s a one-joke movie with nothing standing out as funny. There is also no action to speak of and the dialogue is too dry to elicit even a chuckle.

The once in a lifetime cast is wasted. Dame Edith Evans, in her last film appearance, gets hit the worst as she is given the typical old lady treatment and shown for only a few minutes looking feeble and then promptly dying. Jerry Stiller, Anne Meara, Rip Torn, and Eli Wallach are on so briefly that their appearances seem almost non-existent.

Glenda Jackson comes off best as she manages to give her character an added dimension. The forcefulness of her personality comes through quite clearly for the viewer. However her adversary, which is played by Sue Penhaligon, doesn’t have that same type of strong presence and therefore there is no chemistry or confrontation between the two.

Even the always reliable Sandy Dennis becomes a problem. They have her playing a sort of extended version of her tipsy persona from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, but her off- key voice and overall kooky behavior gets overplayed and eventually becomes annoying.

The electronic music score by John Cameron is obtrusive. The pacing is terrible and the lack of momentum will have people turning this off long before it is over, which is good since the climactic sequence falls horribly flat.

There are a few surprise cameos. One is by the late newscaster Jessica Savitch another by former talk show host Mike Douglas, but nothing that helps make this entertaining or memorable.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: March 18, 1977

Runtime: 1Hour 36Minutes

Rated PG

Studio: Brut Productions

Director: Michael Lindsay-Hogg

Studio: Brut Productions

Available: VHS