A Movie A Day #277: Deadly Friend (1986, directed by Wes Craven)


Things I learned from watching Deadly Friend:

Girls love nerds who build robots.

In 1986, nerds could build robots that displayed human feelings.

Angry old neighbors hate robots.

If a nerd can build a robot that displays human feelings, then he can also bring his girlfriend back to life by putting a computer chip from the robot in her brain.

Once brought back to life, the girlfriend will start to behave just like the robot.

Basketballs can be used to do anything.

Deadly Friend is best remembered for the scene where the newly revived Samantha (Kristy Swanson) throws a basketball with such force that it causes the head of her neighbor (Anne Ramsey) to explode.  It is also remembered for BB, the big yellow robot that was built by Paul (Matthew Laborteaux).  Deadly Friend starts out as the ultimate nerd fantasy: a beautiful girlfriend. a big robot, and a killer basketball.  By the end of the movie, the fantasy has turned into a nightmare.

Deadly Friend was Wes Craven’s follow-up to A Nightmare on Elm Street.  Craven intended for the film to be a dark love story between a teenage outcast and his zombie girlfriend, with a strong emphasis on the hypocrisy of the adults around them.  Craven said that, in his version of Deadly Friend, people like Samantha’s abusive father were meant to be scarier than Zombie Samantha With A Microchip In Her Brain.  Warner Bros. wanted a film that would appeal to teenage horror fans and demanded Elm Street-stlye nightmares and buckets of more blood.  As a result, Craven practically disowned the finished movie and Deadly Friend is a tonally inconsistent, with sentimental first love scenes competing for space with heads exploding and necks being snapped.  Despite good performances from Laborteaux and Swanson, the final film is too much of a mess to work.  However, I know that I will never look at a basketball the same way again.

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