In my humble opinion, Deadly Friend is the ultimate late-night movie. Seriously, how can you go wrong with a Wes Craven film starring Matthew Labyorteaux (Albert from Little House!), Kristy Swanson, Anne Ramsey (Mama Fratelli!!), and a demented robot?! Admittedly, it might look a little worse in the daylight. The tone of the film leaps wildly from comedic to dramatic, and moments of jaw-dropping gross-out gore are interspersed with kid-friendly sequences that could have come straight from an After School Special. You could argue that it’s ridiculous and awful. You could argue that it’s completely entertaining. It is both.
When Paul Conway (Matthew Labyorteaux) and his mother (Anne Twomey) move to a new town, their future appears bright. Paul is a protégé in the field of artificial intelligence (as evidenced by his homemade robot BB, who has a mind of his own) and conducts research at the university where his mother works. He makes fast friends with a boy named Tom (Michael Sharrett) and his adorable but abused neighbor, Samantha (Kristy Swanson). Paul has all the trappings of a typical teenagehood, but soon things begin to go horribly wrong.
The first blow occurs when these three rascals send BB to Elvira Parker’s house on Halloween night. Wielding a shotgun and with the police department on speed dial, Parker (Anne Ramsey) is infamous throughout the neighborhood. You do not set foot in Mrs. Parker’s yard, and if your basketball bounces over her property line you may as well just ask your mom for a new one. Unsurprisingly, BB is no match for Elivra, and poor Paul is left mourning the loss of his BRF (best robot forever). His sorrows are compounded when Sam meets a sad end at the hands of her father.
Most teenage boys would be grief-stricken by such loss and would retreat to their bedrooms for three or four years of journaling and listening to Morrissey. Not Paul! When he thinks of his dead friends, he thinks SPARE PARTS, and it’s not long before our boy wonder is trying to make one good friend out of two broken ones. Sadly, the melding of Sam and BB proves (wait for it!) deadly!
At this point, you are probably thinking that this is all pretty obvious. Of course Paul builds a Deadly Friend – wah wah. But do you have any idea how rock and roll this friend is?! BB Sam seeks revenge on all of her wrongdoers, culminating in the awe-inspiring basketball head-squashing OF ELVIRA PARKER. There are not words to describe how fabulously over-the-top this scene is, nor is there time or space to extol all of its virtues. The sheer volume of head guts that go kersplat are worth writing home about, and, if you can fathom it, the scene only gets better from there. Even if you don’t bother watching the movie, you should probably spend a few minutes watching this over and over on YouTube. Craven also throws in a few winks to Nightmare on Elm Street (or blatantly repeats himself), utilizing a furnace, a burnt head, and a bed to delightful ends. I have no idea whether to call this movie bad, good, or so bad-it’s-good, but I can promise that this hot mess is very entertaining.