Thursday, March 7, 2013

Deadly Friend (1986)

Subliminal Cinema
Deadly Friend (1986)
Movie review and screencaps
Deadly Friend
Deadly Friend is an odd movie.  It starts off as a 1980s teen romance picture, about a boy genius who wins the heart of the cute girl next door, with the help of his adorable and funny robot.  Sort of like what Short Circuit would be like if it was directed by John Hughes.  But Deadly Friend wasn't directed by John Hughes... it was directed by Nightmare on Elm Street's Wes Craven, and it is full of just as much violence, gore, and horror as it is of awkward teenage romance and cute robot hijinks.  It makes for a really disconcerting sensation, like two different movies have been mashed up together.  But that just makes the film wonderfully weird and fun to watch.

B.B., the Adorable 1980s Robot
Paul (played by Matthew Laborteaux) is a teenage genius, who has just moved to a new town with his single mom. He has built a robot named B.B. that can think and learn by itself.  He also conducts experiments on the brains of human cadavers at the local college.

Experimenting on a Human Brain
Paul quickly falls in love with Samantha (played by Kristy Swanson), the pretty girl next door.   When Samantha is killed, Paul is heartbroken, and steals her body from the hospital, inserts his robot's artificial intelligence microchip into her brain, and brings her back to life.  He hides her reanimated body in the tool shed, like a little kid hiding a stray dog. 

Smuggling a Dead Girlfriend Into the Tool Shed
But the girl that comes back is not the same. She is frightened, confused, and incoherent, and when she gets loose she seeks out violent revenge against the people who wronged both her and the robot B.B.

Thoughts of Revenge
This film had the makings to be a really great gothic fairy tale, a Frankenstein story combined with the pains of adolescent love.  The original Dr. Frankenstein was a bit of a madman, but when you turn him into lovesick and heartbroken teenage boy, he becomes a lot more sympathetic.  Unfortunately, this feeling is undermined by all the cartoonish and ridiculously over-the-top gore sequences.  These scenes don't fit in with the rest of the picture at all, and seem like they were stitched in from another movie.  There are even several dream sequences added to the film, for seemingly no other reason than to add fountains of spurting blood.  Still, I am a fan of cartoonish and ridiculously over-the-top gore sequences, so even though they don't fit in with the rest of the film at all, they're still a lot of fun to watch.

Say Goodbye to Your Skull
The film ends with a ridiculous twist ending that really makes no sense compared to everything that had happened in the story up to that point, although it is consistent with the nightmare sequences.   My best guess is if there had been a sequel it would have begun with the final scene from this film followed by Paul waking up from his latest nightmare.   Of course there was no sequel, so I find it best to just dismiss the final scene altogether.

Umm... Scary Robot?
While it might seem like director Wes Craven is to blame for all the out of place violence and gore, apparently that was not the case.  He originally filmed the movie as a dark romance, without all of those scenes.  But the initial test screenings for that version of the film were negative, so the studio forced Craven to go back and add in all the violent gore scenes after the fact, to help make the film more commercial as a horror picture.  As it is, I still like this film quite a bit, but I can't help but imagine what Craven's original version might have been like.  I suspect it may have been a minor masterpiece.

Rating: 3½ Robots (out of 5)

More screencaps after the jump...


The Lab

Robo Ramp

Robo-Clawed in the Nuts

Paul's Bedroom

Crazy Old Bitch

Drenched in Blood

Creepy Dad

Science 'N Stuff

Wes Craven's Halloween


Childish Pranks

Medical Thing


Girlfriend in a Coma

Surgically Delicious

Panic in the Hospital Halls

I Know, I Know, It's Really Serious

The Monitor

Purple Brain

Teenage Brain Surgeons

Inserting the Microchip

Dead Girlfriend Opens Her Eyes

She Lives

Pissed Off Dead Girl

Crispy Dad

Bad Seed

Sandwich Patrol

Dead Girl is Sad

Who Did My Makeup?!?


Don't Fuck With a Dead Girl

Tossing Dudes Like They Was Salad

Autopsy Prep

Robo Choke, Again

Caught by the Fuzz

Dead Again

Deadly Friend

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