Continuing on my horror movie binge, I dug out Deadly Friend out of my shelf. This was directed by Wes Craven in a time where he claimed his bitter divorce was affecting his work, resulting in a shoddy movie (I can’t remember where I saw this, it was on some show about horror movies). Deadly Friend took forever to come onto DVD, which it did a couple years ago. Before that, it was destined to be the long lost Wes Craven movie.
Well, despite what Craven himself might say, I really like this film. It has its flaws, but it’s not shit. Paul and his mother are new to some suburb somewhere. Paul’s a whiz kid who has built a robot with artificial intelligence. Anyway, Paul befriends a girl next door, Samantha (Kristy Swanson), whose father regularly abuses her. Paul encounters other denizens of his neighborhood, like the crazy lady who barricades her house and brandishes a shot gun, Elvira Parker (Anne Ramsey of Goonies and Throw Mama From The Train fame), and the local, snot-nosed biker toughs. Elvira destroys Pauls robot when they trespass on her lawn, and later Samantha is killed by her abusive father. So, Paul decides to rebuild his robot with Samantha’s body(!). Bloody revenge, Kristy Swanson looking as hot as she can in frumpy 80’s clothes, and awkward robot movement/acting ensue.
I really like the typical 80’s movie version of suburbia that was so pervasive in that decade. Everyone knows each other, kids play outside, there’s a golden hue to everything somehow – I like all of that. The robot itself is really cool for its time. Kinda looks like a 5 foot version of the TOMY robot toys of the period. Seeing Anne Ramsey is always cool. That voice and face cannot be matched. Her death in the movie is the infamous basketball to the head death, for which this movie was known on the internet for some time before the DVD was finally released. Her head explodes with the force of the ball and she runs around literally like a chicken with its head cut off. The father’s death is pretty damn good too, as far as these kinds of movies go.
On the down side, there are long drawn-out scenes that seemed unnecessary and could have been trimmed (like Paul and his friend retrieving Sam’s body from the hospital which you can fast forward through – we get it, they have to sneak in and get the body, we know they’ll succeed otherwise there would be no movie). Other than that, Kristy Swanson should sue her “mime coach” (as its credited in the end credits) for her laughable, arms outstretch, robot acting. It’s horrible. And what’s more, her hands are in the Vulcan “live long and prosper” symbol for the whole movie, supposedly mimicking the original robot’s pincers.
Anyhoo, this movie is worth checking out, especially if you like horror.
3.5 out of 5