Let’s get this out of the way first: I like Patrick Lives Again.
Yes, it’s ultra-trashy and ultra-sleazy.
Yes, it has no real drama or suspense, with a cast of uniformly unpleasant and bitchy characters / victims whom you just want to die, preferably slowly and painfully.
But, it’s also so single minded in delivering the exploitation goods, in terms of gory death scenes, copious nudity and a close-to-hardcore masturbation sequence, that I can’t but warm to it, whatever criticisms may be levelled from a more conventional perspective.
As an in-name and theme only sequel to the Australian Patrick, about a man in a coma who has telekinetic powers, which he uses against those he dislikes – primarily his rivals for a nurse’s love – it’s a prime example of filone production.
For, with the original Patrick hardly setting international box office records, one can only assume that in Italy the film – bolstered by a Goblin soundtrack, in place of the non-Queen Brian May original – did well enough to warrant the unofficial sequel / remake treatment, or that the cost of the film was such that pre-sales, based on its exploitative content and name, were sufficient to cover the initial financial outlay and make Patrick viva ancora all but inevitable.
As it is, the outlay seems somewhat minimal, with one location, the same country house seen in producer Gabriele Crisanti’s Zombie: Nights of Terror; a relatively small, mostly no-name cast, with the ever-enthusiastic Mariangela Giordano probably coming free / cheap on account of being Crisanti’s lover, while Gianni Dei, also seen in the producer's sleaze giallo Giallo a Venezia, as Patrick has exactly one line of dialogue before being confined to a comatose state; and a low effects budget that shows.
The last aspect is also what stops the film, along with like many Italian horror films of the period, from being hard to take. Though one victim is speared through the vagina by a poker which exits out her mouth and another is boiled alive in a swimming pool, the unconvincing nature of the respective aftermaths, with all too obviously plastic heads and bodies, allows for further viewer distance; Cannibal Holocaust it is not.
The charge of unconvincing effects could, admittedly, be levelled at Argento’s Inferno, as another obvious intertext through the presence of Sacha Pitoeff as Patrick’s father, Dr Hershell – one assumes the allegedly alcoholic actor, best known for his work in Alain Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad, needed the money – the glass guillotining death of another victim, and a neo-expressionist use of colour.
But Argento’s film creates a world of its own in a way that Patrick Lives Again does not, the sickly purple and green of the laboratory in which Patrick and three other patients are held included, precisely because it is such a one-off.
In Inferno every camera movement, every detail, means something.
Here, by contrast, nothing really means anything, except for the gore and nudity it affords.
But, if it’s thereby meaningless it’s also so, so entertaining if you're in the right mood...