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Deadly Friend (1986)

R  |   |  Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi  |  10 October 1986 (USA)
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Paul Conway and his mother Jeannie Conway travel to a new town where Paul will join the local university invited by Dr. Johanson. They bring the robot BB that was developed by Paul, who is ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Sharrett ...
Anne Twomey ...
Richard Marcus ...
Russ Marin ...
Andrew Roperto ...
BB (voice)
Robin Nuyen ...
Merritt Olsen ...
William H. Faeth ...
Doctor in Sam's Room (as William H. Faeth M.D.)
Joel Hile ...


Paul Conway and his mother Jeannie Conway travel to a new town where Paul will join the local university invited by Dr. Johanson. They bring the robot BB that was developed by Paul, who is a genius in robotic. Paul befriends the paperboy Tom Toomey and has a crush on his next door neighbor Samantha Pringle, whose abusive alcoholic father Harry Pringle frequently hurts her. One day, Paul, Sam, Tom and BB are playing basketball and the ball fall in the field of their paranoid grumpy neighbor Elvira Parker that does not give it back to the teenagers. In Halloween, Tom convinces Paul to let BB open the padlock of the entrance to her house. However, there is an alarm system and Elvira blows up BB with her shotgun. Then Harry pushes her daughter down the stairs and the doctors let her brain-dead connected to the life support. However Paul convinces Tom to go to the hospital to rescue Sam and then he implants BB's chip into her brain resurrecting Samantha. But will she come back to life ... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Not all nightmares happen on Elm Street. See more »


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Release Date:

10 October 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A.I.  »

Box Office


$8,988,731 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Deadly Friend: An Autopsy, article by Joseph Maddrey from 2014 that he did for Deadly Magazine went into great details about entire back story and production problems of the movie, and different versions of the script;

Bruce Joel Rubin submitted his initial story treatment - titled "A.I" - to Warner Brothers in May 1985, followed by a first draft screenplay on July 19. His idea was to get away from Frankenstein clichés of the book, and both Craven and producer Robert Sherman liked that. According to Rubin, Craven really wanted to "make something that had more basis in character and sort of emotional underpinnings that he had not had in his other films."

In subsequent drafts of the script, there was greater focus on developing Sam and BB as complex characters. One scene that didn't make it into the final film was a poignant dialogue scene between Paul and Sam in which they discuss their absent parents. Paul has come to terms with his father's absence, but Sam continues to express hatred and rage toward the mother who abandoned her and the father who abuses her. Paul responds like a mature advisor, diagnosing her repressed anger as battered child syndrome. It's obvious that Sam is already predisposed to become a monster.

In Rubin's earlier screenplay, there was also a dream scene where Paul dreams Sam standing by his bedside covered with blood. Then after he wakes up he finds out that she killed Elvira. Craven however didn't liked this version of the scene so for the final version in the movie he changed it so that Paul dreams Sam's burned father Harry breaking out of his bed and laughing at him, only intended by Craven to be a sly nod to his previous film, A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Character Carl, the bullying biker, was added in early draft of the script by Rubin to appease Warner Bros. president Mark Canton who requested that they need to "toughen up" the first act.

In the final shooting script, submitted in December 1985, in the scene where Sam finds photo of herself with Paul and BB and when she sheds a tear (this part of the scene is still in the movie), Paul embraces her.

In an effort to highlight the love story, Rubin has avoided the more overly horrific details of the novel, including a gruesome sequence where Paul sees that rats have been gnawing on his dead girlfriend's toes, as well as subsequent bathtub sequence that could have been perversely erotic.

Rubin remembered that this script, which had more of a sweet and fantastic tone rather than twisted and gothic, was read by then Vice President of Warner Brothers Lucy Fisher and that she called him one morning to tell him that the script made her cry. He reflected; "I had to ask her which script because i couldn't believe it was Deadly Friend. She was really moved by the story. So at one point, it really had a bit of a heart and an emotional life that was compelling." Even in on-set interview with Starlog journalist Lee Goldberg, Rubin claimed; "Deadly Friend is an unexpectedly tender movie. It's really story about romantic obsession and the length to which someone might go to be with person he loves."

Death scenes of Harry and Elvira were completely different in shooting script. In Harry's death scene, Sam comes at him with her arms stretched out like Frankenstein's Monster but his death is left for viewer's imagination, although Paul later finds his dead body stuffed in furnace. In original version of Elvira's death, Sam shoves the old woman's head through a door. As its well known, few shots of this original death scene are shown in theatrical trailer. In previous drafts of the script, Elvira is electrocuted by Sam.

Ending of the movie was completely changed. In the script, final act and confrontation with Sam starts in Paul's living room, and not with her jumping out of the window and attacking Tom. Couple stills showing Paul and his mom with re-animated Sam in their living room prove that this ending was indeed filmed. In the shooting script, it's also made clear that in her last moments, before she is shot and killed, she runs towards the cops and Paul because she is trying to protect him.

Ever since production began, everybody involved knew that Sam/BB couldn't really be dead at the end of the film. Rubin initially proposed an ending in which Sam escapes from the morgue only to be picked up by a hitchhiker who screams when he gets a good look at her. In a subsequent draft, she appears in Paul's bedroom at night. A dreamy image of undead Sam wearing a white dress on the back cover of Twisted Terror DVD release suggests that this scene was actually shot.

When he was asked about original version of the film (before test screenings, re-shoots and re-edits) Rubin fondly remembered that this version "did have a kind of emotional underpinning that got decimated by the next cut." Amongst many other scenes, this version of the movie also included few additional character based scenes that appear in shooting script. Some examples include the tender scene where Paul and Sam talk about their missing parents, a scene where Paul waits by Sam's hospital bedside, a scene where Paul's mom tries to console him after Sam's death, a montage showing undead Sam's feeble attempts to learn how to walk and talk, and a scene near the end of the film in which Paul tells Sam that they need to run away together. Official publicity and promotional stills, US and international lobby cards and many other pictures show lot of these and other deleted scenes confirming that they were filmed.

Some of the scenes from earlier drafts of the script are also possible to be filmed but deleted; A poignant funeral for BB that strengthens the bond between Paul and Sam, a pivotal moment when Paul heatedly lashes out at Harry Pringle after learning of Sam's death, an extended conversation between Paul and his mentor Dr. Johanson that addresses the moral implications of Paul's experiment, and a later scene in which Paul expresses guilt and remorse over what he has done, only to realize that his love for Samantha outweighs everything else. See more »


Elvira Parker's padlock to her gate is facing the incorrect way. See more »


Neighbor: Old man Pringle and Mrs. Parker, both dead. His face was burned off.
Paul Conway: Elvira Parker?
Neighbor: Yeah, I heard somebody say she called the police. Said she saw Sam in her bedroom window. From what I hear, Elvira's head's all over the walls in there.
See more »


Referenced in Ida, Be Thy Name: The Frightful Females of Fear (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

Your typical mid/late 80's comic horror flick from Wes Craven
4 November 2002 | by (Finland) – See all my reviews

DEADLY FRIEND is written by Bruce Joel Rubin who has also written films like Deep Impact (Mimi Leder, 1998) and Ghost (Jerry Zucker, 1990). DEADLY FRIEND is directed by Wes Craven, the horror maestro behind films like A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988) and the 90's boxoffice hit Scream (1996). Craven has done many mediocre or even bad films and especially in the 1980's. Fortunately DEADLY FRIEND isn't among the worst ones.

The film stars Matthew Laborteaux as teenager Paul, who moves to a new town with his mother. Paul has a self made artificial intelligence robot called BB and he spends a lot of time with BB and even talks about its structure and other elements in the school for students. Soon he meets the neighbor Samantha played by Kristy Swanson. Samantha is abused by his father and BB is abused by their angry old lady neighbor who indeed looks like a nightmare on your street. Soon something happens to BB and something happens to Samantha and what our teen genius develops is something we've seen at least in Frank Henenlotter's trash classic Frankenhooker (1990) among many other more or less serious "Frankenstein themed" horror films.

DEADLY FRIEND is little like Craven's other late 80's film, Shocker (1989). Both films try to be teen drama, horror and comedy at the same time, and it is of course pretty difficult to achieve a totally satisfying result with so many ingredients. DEADLY FRIEND is surprisingly restrained and drama oriented and Samantha really becomes pretty sympathetic girl and the two central boys as well. They're not over-the-top smiling and beautiful adolescents one can find from any of those disgusting Hollywood produced teen horrors/slashers that spawned after the success of Scream. In DEADLY FRIEND, the teenagers are pretty natural and realistic and so they're easy to feel sympathy for.

Craven has the talent to keep his tongue in cheek while directing these films (just remember the outrageous finale in Shocker!) and that helps a lot. He doesn't take himself too seriously and if he does, it happens very rarely. DEADLY FRIEND makes me smile a lot, but it's all intentional and I don't smile because I feel ashamed or sorry for the makers, which is the case when a film really takes itself too seriously and becomes laughable. The outrageousness in DEADLY FRIEND is taken as far as possible in a Warner production like this when the infamous and often heard among horror fans "basketball murder" comes and I must say it feels quite gruesome in an otherwise "lame" and harmless film like this. The gore in that brief but memorable scene is close to that of Tom Savini's in films like Maniac (William Lustig, 1980) and The Prowler aka Rosemary's Killer (Joseph Zito, 1982). I kind of doubt would this film get an R rating nowadays.

The main problem in DEADLY FRIEND is that it is too straightforward and has huge holes and easy solutions in its plot and screenplay. When writer Rubin decides they're going to do something, it just happens and there are no problems at all, as if they were completely alone in the city, the hospital and so on. Also the Samantha's father is totally unnecessary as a character. He is there completely in vain, and the violence he commits towards his daughter without any motive or explanation feels quite tasteless and unnecessary in a film like this. Samantha's fate could have been arranged without the character of her father and definitely ten times more satisfyingly and with a more noteworthy result and final film.

The "shock epilogue" we could expect from Craven is this time very effective and really has to be seen to be believed. It is as shocking and surprising as the ending in Elm Street, but I would say it is even more gruesome and even surreal this time. The effects required for that ending are handled fine as well as throughout the whole film. The BB robot is quite nice and never irritating. The result which comes after Paul's operation on BB and Samantha is very close to that of Henenlotter's Frankenhooker and they both are equally demented!

DEADLY FRIEND isn't as great and noteworthy horror comedy as it very well could have been in the hands of this director, but still I prefer this over Shocker, for instance, but this is far away from the masterpieces (Elm Street, Serpent etc.) of the director. I give DEADLY FRIEND 4/10 and will watch out those basketballs for sure.

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