Release Date: October 10th, 1986
Directed by: Wes Craven
Written by: Bruce Joel Rubin
Based on: Friend by Diana Henstell
Music by: Charles Bernstein
Cast: Matthew Laborteaux, Kristy Swanson, Michael Sharrett, Anne Twomey, Anne Ramsey, Charles Fleischer
Warner Bros., 91 Minutes
As Wes Craven passed away not too long ago, I’ve been inspired to watch some of his more obscure films. Especially those I haven’t seen for a long time. That brings me to this film, Deadly Friend.
This 1986 picture is based on the 1985 novel Friend by Diana Henstell. I have no idea how close this is to the book but the premise is about the same. Well, the second half of this movie is the same as the premise of the book. This is actually two movies in one.
The first half of the film deals with a boy named Paul moving to a new house, where he meets a girl and goes on fun adventures with her, some other kid that faints a lot and his pet robot named B.B. The second half of the film sees Paul implant a microchip into the brain of the girl, as she is dead – following her abusive father tossing her down some steps. The microchip makes her go on a killing spree and gives her robotic dance moves and crazy eyes. She essentially becomes the overly attached girlfriend with awkward dance moves.
I have to give props for the first half of the film because the people who built the robot B.B. did a fine job. He was a cool character for the most part and looked great for a film that had a very limited budget.
Well, I am assuming it was really limited, as the other special effects were atrocious. I mean, the death by basketball scene was cool, initially. For instance, when the head exploded it looked great. But then when the headless animatronic body was moving around, it looked nothing like Anne Ramsey. The robot face tearing through the human face at the end of the film was horrible. Kristy Swanson postmortem just had blue eye shadow to show that she was basically a robo-zombie.
After what Craven did with A Nightmare On Elm Street, two years before this, Deadly Friend was a huge step backwards in creativity and ingenuity. This was at the height of practical effects but they just take you too far out of the movie here.
Yet, there is something magical about this film despite the nonsensical plot, poorly written characters with confusing motivations and mostly shitty special effects.
This film is worth watching just for how bizarre and unique it truly is. In fact, it is like Chopping Mall meets Re-animator starring Mama Fratelli from The Goonies and the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And I could never express how much I loved Anne Ramsey, as a kid. From The Goonies, to this and Throw Mama From the Train – she was always great. I also preferred Kristy Swanson’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer film over the Sarah Michelle Gellar TV show. No, I am not a fan of Joss Whedon, at all… sorry, not sorry.
This isn’t Wes Craven’s finest film but it is certainly better than the films later in his career. It is far from perfect but weird enough to make it memorable and enjoyable.