Deadly Friend

August 8th, 2009 by Perfesser Deviant

Deadly Friend   deadly friend poster 64x120 sci fi reviews horror Director: Wes Craven
Writer: Bruce Joel Rubin based on a novel by Diana Henstell
Release Year: 1986

Boys will be boys and girls will be robots.

Young nerd Paul Conway (Matthew Laborteaux) moves to a new town for school to work on his robot and meets cute girl-next-door Samantha Pringle (Kristy Swanson). Because of a close encounter with professional paranoid crazy lady Elvira Parker (Anne Ramsey) Paul’s life takes an unfortunate turn. Eventually, Paul’s robot BB (annoyingly voiced by Charles Fleischer) and Samantha get a little closer together than anyone could have wished….

(Spoilers follow…)

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Hug me or die human!

The protagonists of this film are a bunch of nerds. Paul is an uber-nerd for building a robot and being a general-purpose young genius. He applies his genius like a teenage Frankenstein and turns a lovely, delicious young piece of meat into a monster-girl with deadly basketball moves. Tom ‘Slime’ Toomey (Michael Sharrett) is Paul’s nerd friend who helps him steal a body and reanimate it despite having to commit several felonies in the process; now that’s what I call a good friend. The thing is, it seems that Tom has no real idea of the gravity of the situation because he’s such a nerd, which removes him from nerd and makes him a dork, possibly a dweeb. Jeannie Conway (Anne Twomey) is Paul’s nerd mom who seems oblivious to her son’s escapades of playing around with dead girls’ bodies, which is something my mother sternly forbade in our household; nerds can be oblivious but this mother really tries to ignore her son’s misbehavior more completely than a mother in a courtroom drama. Finally, there’s the one nerd to rule them all, Dr. Johanson (Russ Marin) who instructs young Paul in the nerdly arts, but his protégé soon outnerds him and becomes the nerd to end all nerds.

Okay, that’s quite enough of that.

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The Second Ammendment rules!

The Pringle family next door are interesting people, if you like a drunken domineering awful bastard like Harry Pringle (Richard Marcus) and his abused and fairly messed-up daughter Sam. Young Sam has some unfortunate dreams that seem to indicate that her daddy has been feeding her hot dogs at some point if you know what I mean. Well, the problem is that the line between an overprotective father and a monster is pretty hard to determine from the outside without the child’s word, and she’s tight-lipped out of loyalty to her daddy. Like happens in real life all too often, no one does anything about the situation and Harry ends up killing his daughter. In the real world, the neighbors would probably tell the police their suspicions after the fact and the coroner would look for evidence of past abuse. Showing a picture of a dead pretty girl to a jury while describing her past injuries would be a slam-dunk case for any competent district attorney, but this is not the real world.

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The ancient art of hiding in bushes.

The best thing that can be said about BB the robot is that it is blown away early on. Really, BB is what you would get if you took Number 5 from Short Circuit and erased all the charm, which, I suspect, was exactly the point. Well, I seriously doubt that they were intentionally making an annoying character – though getting Charles Fleischer to do the voice was a step in the right direction – but this robot is far too irritating to be endearing. Actually, the odd vocalizations are a bit reminiscent of E.T. from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial making this character a double rip-off. When BB is resurrected as BB / Sam, it decides to go after its enemies and get revenge, which seems like a strange way for a robot to behave. Still though, the reality of the situation is that a robot like BB would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and require the combined effort of dozens of brilliant minds, but here a teenager builds it and keeps it around as a toy. Yeah.

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I touch myself....

The other antagonists that this film has to offer are equally jaw-dropping in their silliness. Madwoman Elvira Parker threatens children with a shotgun and eventually blows BB away in a hail of gunfire. Normally police wouldn’t be okay with this sort of thing and would probably have handed Elvira off to the rubber room people a long time ago as old ladies with weapons are frowned upon in suburbia. Of course, that would require this film be remotely realistic. There’s also biker jerkoff / bully Carl (Andrew Roperto) who takes an instant dislike to Paul – bullies can smell nerd from miles away – and eventually has to be tossed around after BB gives him a less-than-pleasant introduction to CBT. Though these characters are … well … boring, we need someone to serve in the important role of victims in this film.

This film suffers from an overabundance of “what the hell?” content which some people have tried to excuse by saying this was meant to be a comedy. If a comedy it was meant to be, a quite inept one it became. Aside from the radical departures from reality I’ve already mentioned, there are some other humdingers. The infamous basketball death scene has to be one of the stupidest things Craven has ever shot. The shot of the plaster head filled with fake blood exploding as a midget runs around in a costume is howlingly bad, but this scene is stupid to begin with. The final shot of the film – one of those terrible shock epilogues that rotten films are always blessed with – involves BB’s robot head and arms breaking out of Sam’s corpse … … okay … now, wasn’t all the BB equipment that Paul installed a bit of microchip? Did the microchip grow a new head? This has to be one of the worst continuity errors since Space Mutiny. Finally, there’s the essential problem of a pretty girl attracted to a nerd, a situation that simply doesn’t happen because in real life, all the pretty ones just want to be friends.

I’m not bitter.

Rating: Deadly Friend   star sci fi reviews horror Deadly Friend   halfstar sci fi reviews horror Deadly Friend   blankstar sci fi reviews horror Deadly Friend   blankstar sci fi reviews horror Deadly Friend   blankstar sci fi reviews horror

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