Craven’s Cult Classic ‘Deadly Friend’ is So Very Bad

Julien Neaves, Editor

Plot: When his beautiful young neighbour is accidentally killed by her abusive father a young robotics genius uses a robot’s microchip to resurrect her with deadly results.

Review: I will forever be thankful to late horror icon Wes Craven for creating two of my all-time favourite slasher franchises, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream. But he is also the man who directed the abysmal, barely so-bad-it’s-good Swamp Thing, so not everything he touched turned to gold. And another of his films that ranks highly on the ole crap-o-meter is 1986’s Deadly Friend. With a robotic SPOILER ALERT let’s get into it.

Can something happen already? Geez!

Now a little backstory on how I ended up watching this movie. Years ago I saw the a clip of the infamous scene where the titular Deadly Friend (played by original Buffy and cutie pie Kristy Swanson) kills an old lady with a basketball. The woman’s head explodes in a completely ridiculous way and I got a good kick out of it. So when I saw the film on HBO MAX I decided to check it out, hoping for a campy good time of gory, over-the-top mayhem. And sad to say but that scene was the only one worth watching over the entire runtime.

First strike is the film takes FOREVER to get going. Now I presume they wanted to build up the chemistry between Swanson’s Samantha and her genius neighbour Paul (Matthew Laborteaux), and granted they do have decent chemistry, but it ends up being a slog. Second strike is that there are only three kills in the entire film including smashing basketball head, and the other two are super lame. Third strike is that Swanson as the robot resurrected Samantha is not scary at all and just looks stupid with her clawed hands (meant to mimic the robot “BB”). And fourth strike is that Paul becomes an unlikeable, obsessive protagonist so I really couldn’t muster any sympathy for him. Fifth strike is the ending with BB ripping through Samantha’s corpse is insulting to the intelligence and I would even have taken the well-worn cliché of “it was all a dream” over this utter nonsense.

I would shout ‘look behind you’ but I hate that old bat

Did I reach five strikes? Talk about overkill. But yeah, I want my hour and 31 minutes of my life back. I read there was a lot of studio interference with a version with less kills and gore and one with more of the carnage candy, so old Wes is not completely to blame for how this turned out. And I’m not sure which version I saw, but it it was 13 flavours of sewage.

I kind of wish it was even worse so I could enjoy it ironically as so-bad-it’s good. But sorry my friend, Deadly Friend is just plain bad.

Editor Jules’s Score: 3 out of 10

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Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.