Wednesday, February 13, 2013

One of my all time favorite love stories...Wes Craven's Deadly Friend

 One of my all time favorite love stories...Wes Craven's Deadly Friend. 

PLOT - Paul, a teenage genius moves to a new town with his mother after getting a full scholarship at one of the best medical schools in the country. Paul brings along his invention, a robot he built named Bee-Bee. It isn't long before Paul becomes friends with Samantha, the girl next door who lives with her abusive and jealous father. After finally settling in, tragedy strikes twice, first when a crazy neighbor destroys Bee-Bee. Several weeks later Samantha is murdered by her father in a horrible drunken rage. Unable to cope with loosing his two closest friends, Paul steals Samantha's corpse and implants Bee-Bee's microchip to bring her back to life. Sadly he doesn't realize that his friend has become an unstoppable monster bent only on murdering everyone who comes in it's path.

LOWDOWN - I haven't heard of Deadly Friend until I graduated high school. I bought a pretty sweet horror movie pack of DVDs that had four or five different movies. Such titles as The Hand, and Somebody's Watching me was among them. The title that made me decide to blow the 30 bucks on it was Wes Craven's Deadly Friend. I was very  familiar with Mr. Craven's career due to A Nightmare On Elm Street, and the Scream films. Two series that were very important to be growing up and helping me become the horror fan I am today. I also knew of course of his 70's gritty rape revenge movies Last House On The Left and The Hills Have Eyes.

And who can't forget the very crazy yet awesome People Under The Stairs? I was very interested in seeing this movie since it seemed to be a lost gem. First off there were no other releases of this movie on DVD around, second I found it pretty cool that this was one the next movie Wes directed after his very popular and successful work in A Nightmare On Elm Street. (Well there was the made for TV movie Chiller which was very well done, but Deadly Friend was his next movie after Elm Street that was released in theaters.) The second I watched it I fell in love. These were the kind of movies that I really adore and love. They have a high re-watch factor, and just something about them screams charm. Maybe it's because in my eyes somebody younger could watch this as training wheels if they were interested in getting into horror. Now mind you not exactly the greatest pick for a seven year old, but this reminds me of the perfect movie a bunch of pre-teens would rent during a sleepover. There isn't any sex in it, and the violence is all in good fun. There's seriously only two really gory scenes and their the kind that are simply there for shock value.  

I have a pretty strong memory of showing my parents this movie and then taking it with me when I went away to school. In fact this was a movie I had playing a lot back in my old apartment and I remember a lot of the drunken hells and comments my friends would yell at this movie. In fact my last semester while I lived alone I had this movie playing on pretty much a constant loop. Just something as weird as it sounds was comforting and a perfect movie to watch while working/sculpting. I'm honestly stunned I didn't have nightmares about killer robots and teenage girls since this along with such movies as Witchboard were films I fell asleep to a lot. 

This is a good old fashion 1980's scare fest. I love that it was filmed on the same lot as such classics as The Monster Squad and Fright Night. In fact if you watch closely you can even spot some of the houses.

This movie is based on a novel by Diana Henstell, a book I was very lucky to nab while VHS hunting last spring. From what I heard the book is a lot different than the movie. Reading it I was very surprised. Paul in the book is written as a few years younger and as a very overweight boy who wears glasses and is nicknamed Piggy. In the novel Paul is written as very unlikeable with a dark past which is one of the main reasons him and his mother move to the new town. 

The deaths are a little different (I think why the movie's were so voilent was simply because they wanted to bring in more of a horror audience, which is understandable.) One big thing I did like about the novel was how they made Sam decompose as time went on. The pure description behind it is simply amazing. It also has a very dark ending which I won't spoil for anyone. Not the most cheerful of books but still very well done.

One of the creepiest scenes is when the new Sam is staring out the window at her father. Really got to hand it to the film's score which made the movie beyond creepy.

That being said I look at this movie and the novel as two separate things. I actually enjoy the movie despite it's flaws. Sure it's dated and the storyline is a little out there. I'm still stunned they made the whole robot thing work as well as they did. I liked Wes Craven's vision with this movie. Had they gone a little bit darker and maybe changed the ending, I feel it really could have gone down in the books as a truly awesome underrated movie.

One big thing that I feel hurt the movie was the fact that Wes Craven had just gotten off A Nightmare On Elm Street. This was when Freddy mania was at it's highest and I feel Wes or the studio at least pushed him a lot to make the next big horror movie or the next big villain. It seemed this way for this movie, and with Shocker

It's nice to see horror movies with female killers. In fact I feel as a girl there really isn't enough. Sam...or should I say Bee-Bee was completely bad ass.

The added gore and violence did seem a bit silly. Kristy Swanson even said in several interviews that one of her clearest memories of filming was the scene where the famous "basketball death" happened, and how they kept doing take after take after take with her having to throw the ball as hard as she could. 

I feel that scene was awesome!

The movie is a twisted 1980's take on Frankenstein. It goes to show how driven and crazed Paul was when he lost his two friends. I found his relationship with Sam very sweet even though it could have been developed more. The fact that everything begins to spin so out of control quickly and how he wanted to do was have her back and to make things right...

The biggest laugh as to be the makeup on Sam. I guess they didn't go for the novel's take with her corpse and I guess in this movie if you're walking around as the living dead blue eye shadow begins to surround your eyes. Go figure...

The ending did seem a bit rushed. I felt the whole showdown with the bully could have been done much better. Sam talking in Bee-Bee's voice was a bit too much for me. I mean yeah we get it, but it just seemed a little too cheesy. I did love though her movements and how her hands were like the pitchers that the robot had. If I ever meet Kristy Swanson I'm going to make sure she does that pose with me.

The ending was a little laughable, but I did love how slowly Sam begins to see in her normal vision again. She's no longer Bee-Bee and slowly her memories are coming back. The final showdown with her surrounded by the police was heartbreaking. I hated when she looks so scared and sees Paul before crying out his name.

The final scene though really didn't do it for me. I think they could have ended just with showing Pual breaking into the morgue again, completely crazy now. The whole female Bee-Bee underneath her skin was pretty silly, but whatever if it held my interest that long I really didn't care. Deadly Friend is a great underrated movie. Not Wes Craven's greatest, but a whole lot better than a good handful of movies he's done. This is a favorite of mine to always watch and I always laugh watching the drunken father with his beer sweats.

So just in time for Valentine's Day I decided to show one of my favorite underrated love stories. So tomorrow night if you hear a robot voice in the bushes saying "Bee-bee!" run...there's a teenage blue eye shadow killer on the loose!

Four Stars!

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