HUGHESY’S HIDDEN GEMS: No 1: Wes Craven’s Deadly Friend

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HUGHES HIDDEN GEMS Number 1: Wes Craven’s Deadly Friend

Directed By Wes Craven

 Starring: Matthew Laborteaux Kristy Swanson Michael Sharrett Anne Twomey

Released: October 10, 1986

Not all Nightmares begin on Elm Street!!!!!!!


After the stunning worldwide success of A Nightmare On Elm Street, Wes Craven was a made man. The horror world was all his to own and dictate, he was thee name that all fans could not wait to see what kind of horror film he would bring out next. Would it be Freddy 2? Maybe another new created icon which would take the world by storm. Well after his visit to Elm Street, good old Wes did branch out to do something different and did introduce us to a whole new character, but it was not human and it went by the name of BB.

Now before I get to the most annoying piece of crap in this film, we start the movie with a car thief who tries to steal one and gets mre than he bargained for when a robotic hand reaches out from the back seat and tries to strangle the unwelcome guest. Lucky for the guy he manages to run, unlucky for the viewer we are introduced to BB, a robot who is one of the most gut wrenching awful things you ever see in a horror film.  His  “BB BBB BBB…BOOOO…..BEEE…BEEP..BEEP…BOOO…BEEEE…..BBB…..BBBB” sound fills the picture for the first twenty five minutes and honestly my eyes started to bleed in annoyance. The reason for his existence is that Ziggy’s bastard offspring is the creation of Paul (Matthew Laborteaux), one of those intelligent teens in school who was always top of their class much to the jealousy of everyone around him and good old Paul is studying……take a deep breath and get the spell check ready….neurology and artificial intelligence at the local college. So aye he is one brainy bastard and his BB is his pride and joy.

Like all 80’s horror’s (take a look at Fright Night), Paul just lives with his Mum in a typical neighbourhood where probably Charley Brewster would live next door if it was not for Sam (Kristy Swanson) occupying the house. Sam with her blonde hair and lovely personality is the perfect girl to live next to if it was not for her abusive father who loves to get drunk and then beat the shit out of her. Paul instantly makes friends with her and soon she and BB are walking around hand in hand (ok taking the piss here) but its such a surreal set up and despite her father’s heavy hands, life is great until of course BB meets up with that old woman from ThrowMamma From The Train!

Poor BB gets a shotgun to the head much to the despair of Paul but to the total enjoyment of the viewer and you would think that was it. Paul would just go off and create a new BB called maybe BB Mark II, but no, guess what. Poor Sam takes one to many beatings and she ends up dead at the foot of the stairs. Bad day for Paul you would think but not quite. With the help of fellow friend Tom (Michael Sharrett), they kidnap the dead body of Sam and implant BB’s chip into her. Oh yes, soon Sam is alive but dead and you get the reason why this is called Deadly Friend….

Its easy to dismiss Deadly Friend has a bad horror and for the new generation they will instantly laugh at what is on offer but for someone who lived through the horror genre in the 80’s, this is a total guilty pleasure that is gloriously bad that it is so much fun. Its quite bonkers to think how Craven could come up with two different films in a short matter of time. Elm Street was and still is a horror masterpiece, but Deadly Friend is one of Craven’s forgotten films.

Its well known that the entire production was overwhelmed by studio interference. Anyone who has read the book “Friends” by Diane Henstell will tell you that the story needed to be told. Its a wonderful love story filled with a dark vibe that from reading it you can see why Craven was drawn to the source material. The fact remains that Freddy haunted the picture. The studio wanted a new scare fest and what they had was a love story so they ordered half a dozen extra scenes full of kills and gore which shows up when you watch. The balance is not there at all within the film, it tries to be one thing then the other and you just know that underneath it all there is a great film dying to come out. It tells you all that the stupid hacked on ending “which is even worse than the dummy through the window in Nightmare” was dreamt up by Mark Tapin back then the president off Warner Brothers.
But despite the misgivings and the many negatives surrounding the film, its still a worthwhile watch. Any Craven fan who has not even seen this film should check it out because there are many of his signatures on display. The mood helped by the great score moves the film along nicely and he fills the films up with some nice shots especially when we switch to POV moments. Of course its also worth checking out for the infamous scene involving death by basketball. Yes I did write that and its a scene that is worth three stars at least and is of the best moments in 80’s horror cinema.
The cast also give a good count of themselves even though I have no idea where Laborteaux went after this, but of course Kristy went on to become the original Buffy and also starred in the really bad sequel Mannequin On The Move. Craven of course went to make better films than this but it would be until 10 years later where he would reach the same standard of Freddy and that was with the help of Kevin Williamson and the introduction of a certain Ghostface.
Deadly Friend though remains a hidden gem of 80’s horror, its not very good but that is its brilliance. Its so camped in 80’s style that its a showcase of what horror was like back then and deserves to find the love that other similar films like Fright Night and Vamp seem to have with fans but I suppose I am one of the lucky ones who has not forgotten this film because lets be honest, any film that shows the woman from The Gonnies getting her head squashed with a Basketball deserves to be loved anc cherished….
                                                                                                   Rating: ★★★☆☆


About Ross Hughes 1931 Articles
Since my mother sat me down at the age of five years of age and watched a little called Halloween, I have been hooked on horror. There is no other genre that gets me excited and takes me to the edge of entertainment. I watch everything from old, new, to cheap and blockbusters, but I promise all my readers that I will always give an honest opinion, and I hope whoever reads this review section, will find a film that they too can love as much as I do! Have fun reading, and please DO HAVE NIGHTMARES!!!!!!

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