Another Craven movie I saw in the theater with high hopes, 1986’s Deadly Friend is unfortunately TERRIBLE (not even in a “so bad it’s good” The People Under the Stairs kind of way), and I can only recommend seeing it if you’re having a Bad Movie Night with friends—and have a lot of booze on hand. And even then, eh. THIS was his follow up to A Nightmare on Elm Street, for chrissakes. THIS.
Nerdy Paul (Matthew Labyorteaux, who will always be Albert Ingalls to me) is a super genius who moves to a new town because his awesome robot named BB—okay, awesome if you saw it in the 80s, I mean—got him a fancy college scholarship. Or something. Anyway!
It’s not long before he realizes next-door neighbor Sam is a hottie (HELLO Kristy Swanson) and she, along with new friend “Slime”, decided to prank the neighborhood crazy Elvira (Anne Ramsey) by having BB break her super secure gate and ring her doorbell. I know, TERRIFYING, right? Unfortunately, Elvira likes to shoot things, especially unruly kids, so she ends up blowing BB into a million smithereens. Aw, poor robot.
Paul’s barely has time to morn BB when (shortly after their first kiss) Sam gets beaten to brain death by her abusive father. Naturally, the only sane thing to do is for Paul to enlist Slime to help him steal Sam’s body and Frankenstein BB’s chip into her head. That way see, he can have a hot girlfriend who’s still alive, yet compliant and teachable.
And just when you thought this movie couldn’t get any worse, IT DOES. Swanson, I assume under Craven’s direction, plays SAM/BB with vacant blue eyeshadow rimmed eyes, and holds her hands out in weird claw-like shapes meant to mimic, I guess, BB’s mechanical arms and hands. IT IS RIDICULOUS. And instead of being creeped out by this human/robot hybrid, you just end up laughing your ass off.
After Paul stashes her in a woodshed and tries to re-teach her some basic human skills and bring back her Sam brain memories, SAM/BB goes on a revenge mission, dispatching her father the same way the angry mob dispatches Fred Krueger in Nightmare, then confronting Elvira. And what follows is one of the worst horror movie deaths on screen: death by basketball.
Yes. You just read that right. SAM/BB throws a basketball with such force that it blows apart Elvira’s head, and then in one of the cheesiest F/X sequences I’ve ever seen, the headless, misshapen body stumbles around spewing orange/red paint out of its neck while Swanson watches it struggle.
After all the murdering, SAM/BB starts to struggle with who she is, human? Or robot? and retreats back to the woodshed, where the police find her and gun her down, killing her for good. MAYBE.
The ridiculously insane epilogue would have you believe that Paul goes to steal Sam’s body a second time, vowing to “build her better”, at which point BB’s robot body emerges out of her corpse while SAM/BB strangles him to death.
This is one of those Craven films that I don’t think you need to see unless you saw it when you were younger and have fond nostalgic 80s memories of. And like I said above, even then, eh.