This article locates a number of 1970s Australian horror films in relation to British and American biomedical horror films featuring characters with disability who are gifted with telekinesis (making them “supercrips”) and characters who are in a coma and labeled “vegetables.” It employs scholarship by Paul Longmore, Matthew Norden, Angela Smith, Paul Darke, Robert Cettl, Sami Schalk, and others to interrogate how Australian genre film represents disability on-screen. An argument is made that while Ozploitation films like The Cars That Ate Paris (1974) and the first Mad Max film (1979) center on the car and mobility in Australian culture, Richard Franklin’s Patrick (1978) draws attention to masculinity, immobility, and disability. Tapping into tropes about “monstrous” disabled others, Franklin creates a memorable disabled protagonist who evokes fear and dread via his telekinetic powers while also drawing attention to the plight of patients who are the victims of medical malpractice. A hyperbolic 2013 remake directed by Mark Hartley also explores the theme of masculinity and mobility and further exploits the Oedipal theme and the cure-or-kill trope. Both the original and the adaptation, this article argues, mine horror stereotypes about disability while also creating a character who is powerful rather than a passive object of pity.
"Comatose "Vegetable" or Supercrip? Disability and Immobility in Patrick,"
Antipodes: Vol. 36:
1, Article 13.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/antipodes/vol36/iss1/13