Made shortly after A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wes Craven and the writer of the yet un-produced Ghost (Bruce Joel Rubin) signed on with Warner Bros. to make a sci-fi thriller. However things didn’t quite go to plan and with studio interference and Craven’s hard core audience not appreciating it, Warners had a big flop on their hands.
All round technical and science genius Paul Conway has moved to a new town with his Mother to start his studies at a prestige university. Paul has built an intelligent robot BB (who is constantly learning) and it is through BB he befriends the local paperboy Tom and his next door neighbour Sam (The original Buffy – Kristy Swanson).
Sam’s Father is an alcoholic and abuser and he isn’t at all happy that she is getting close with Paul and his Mother. Of course nothing goes to plan and after a run in with the local dirt bags, the old lady across the street and an accident involving Sam and her Father, Paul’s life is turned upside down.
Being the genius that he is, he does the unthinkable but this can only lead to tragedy.
Initially nothing like a ‘Wes Craven’ film i.e. scary and gory, Deadly Friend was forced to do reshoots adding more violence and nightmare sequences no doubt to cash in on that film featuring th guy who wore stripy knitwear. This means Deadly Friend is a bit of a patchwork quilt of a movie. It all starts off as a teen movie something that only the 80’s could produce and but then turns really dark. Bruce Joel Rubin was known for his dark material (Jacob’s Ladder and Ghost certainly had its fair share) and this certainly helps with those sequences. However you can see from a mile off the bits added in forcibly by the studio, so it would have been interesting to see Craven’s original intentions.
Saying all that, the film has still lots going for it. Its got an appealing cast, a cool robot, a mad old lady and central to it all a really good performance from Kristy Swanson as Sam who I think didn’t get enough credit then or now for her performance.
Often forgotten about when discussing Craven, its far from perfect and has its fair share of faults but amongst all the tampering there is an half decent movie there to be enjoyed. Not perfect by any means but certainly worth checking out some 34 years since its release.
- Starring Matthew Laborteaux Kristy Swanson Anne Ramsey
- Directed by Wes Craven