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
Just like 'Deadly Friend', another Warner Bros. movie from the same year, the cult action film Cobra (1986) was also a victim of studio forced cuts and re-edits. Much like he did with 'Deadly Friend', Warner Bros.' head demanded for some drastic changes to be done on the film, which included shortening the running time from two hours down down to 84 minutes, removing many of the plot and character scenes and heavily cutting down the action sequences and all the gore and violence. See more »
Elvira Parker's padlock to her gate is facing the incorrect way. See more »
Hey, she's dead? Hey, what the hell are you doing, you didn't say anything about a dead body, we were supposed to save her life!
See more »
Several seconds of gruesome footage, including the entire "basketball death", were removed when the film was first released in Ontario, Canada. See more »
Your typical mid/late 80's comic horror flick from Wes Craven
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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