Deadly Friend (1986)

deadly friend 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 1 out of 10

4-Word Review: He resurrects his girlfriend.

Paul (Matthew Labyorteaux) is a teen with a genius I.Q. who teaches classes on robotics at a local university. His next-door neighbor is Samantha (Kristy Swanson) a beautiful teen girl who is tormented and abused by her alcoholic father (Richard Marcus). When she becomes brain dead after falling down the stairs during one of her father’s rages Paul tries to bring her back to life by implementing the microchip from his robot’s brain into hers. However, instead of the pretty, sweet girl that she once was she is now a killing machine getting back at anyone who ever wronged her and Paul becomes unable to stop her.

The film suffers severely as a result of the studio having a different idea on the direction they wanted to take it versus what director Wes Craven or its screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin had. Craven and Rubin wanted an offbeat love story while the producers pushed for the conventional ‘80s horror. The result is a mishmash of different genres that throws in everything from blood and gore to silly robots that do cutesy things and look better suited for a kid-friendly Disney movie.

The plot has a logic loophole as well as the reincarnated Samantha somehow gains super human strength, which makes no sense. She may have the robot’s brain, but it’s still her same body, so whatever strength the robot had would not transition to her since he was made from mechanical parts. The part where she lifts a biker dude over her head would probably have broken her back and I wasn’t sure what the dark circles around her eyes was so supposed to mean. Was this to represent that she was slowly dying and decaying? If so then her skin should be rotting and peeling off and not just looking like someone who went a little overboard with the eye shadow.

The misguided nightmare segments are another issue. The scene where Samantha dreams that she stabs her father in the stomach with a broken glass vase that causes blood to rush out of him appears more like an erect penis pissing out blood. The moment where Paul sees Samantha’s dead and burned father’s head popping out of his bed is too reminiscent of A Nightmare on Elm Street and comes off looking like Craven was going to the same well too often.

The characters are dull and poorly fleshed out. Paul is too clean cut and the fact that he is super smart at everything becomes annoying. Samantha seems overly passive and sheltered and her loathsome father becomes nothing more than a walking, talking cliché trucked straight in from Redneckville.

Spoiler Alert!

The ending is by far the worst part as it features Paul coming into the morgue after Samantha has been killed and then having her inexplicable and without explanation turn into a robot. Whether this was simply a dream or a misguided attempt to turn the plotline into some sort of sequel is unclear, but it helps cement this as a complete catastrophe despite its good production values and a perfect testament to what happens when the producer and director are not on the same page.

End of Spoiler Alert!

deadly friend 2

My Rating: 1 out of 10

Released: October 10, 1986

Runtime: 1Hour 31Minutes

Rated R

Director: Wes Craven

Studio: Warner Brothers

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube 

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