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John’s Horror Corner: Deadly Friend (1986), an 80s-modern teenage Frankenstein meets Weird Science, Short Circuit and Re-Animator…all of which featured creations behaving badly

November 15, 2014

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MY CALL: This playful creation-gone-wrong film by a young Wes Craven brings back a wonderful 80s nostalgia to this lifetime horror lover. Just enough zany gore, silly scenarios and a wack-tastic ending to overcome a severely limited budget. MOVIES LIKE Deadly Friend: Man’s Best Friend (1993) comes to mind, along with the MUCH more gory Re-Animator (1985) and Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993). All three movies involve creations that get out of hand.

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The 80s loved robots… The Terminator (1984), Short Circuit (1986), Chopping Mall (1986), *Batteries Not Included (1987), Short Circuit II (1988)… and here’s another one!

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A teenager on a university scholarship studying the human brain, young inventor Paul (Matthew Labyorteaux) creates artificial intelligence. Let’s just stop right there. This “kid” develops a free-thinking robotin the 80s…with the computer technology we had IN THE 80s…and he’s somehow not bitches’n’hoes, rap-video-rich and sprinkling crushed diamonds in his food already? I wonder, in the movie-verse, how the events of this movie would affect Skynet going live at 5:18 pm ET on July 25th, 2004 and attempt to eradicate Sarah Conner along with all of mankind with terminators. Paul is already lecturing to students at PolyTech… I’m assuming one of his students was Miles Dyson.

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We meet Paul’s cute neighbor Samantha (Kristy Swanson; Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Swamp Shark) and her uber-creepy sweaty abusive dad (Richard Marcus; Enemy Mine, Tremors, The Being), his creepy old neighbor Elvira (the mean old villainess from The Goonies), and some local punks who get their balls squeezed by a protective BB. Speaking of which, BB is super cute but he seems to take note to those who have wronged him.

Paul’s robot “BB” is nothing short of absolutely adorable and he sounds like Disney’s Stitch or a Star Wars Jawa. At one point when he was meeting the teenage neighbor boy I think he said “Houtini.” BB is always getting upgraded and, as a result, smarter. Meanwhile Paul is making decades of scientific progress in mere weeks, already developing the circuitry to jump-start the nervous system of a cadaver.

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When a prank-gone-wrong results in creepy Elvira shotgun-blasting BB to robot Heaven, Paul loses his robo-bestie. Worse yet, the very night of his first kiss with Samantha, a domestic dispute with her father sends her to the hospital with a fatal injury. So naturally Paul steals Samantha’s body, surgically implants BB’s “spare brain” (a motherboard, basically) into Samantha, and then Weird Science meets Re-Animator as he reanimates BB-Sam complete with remote control. Why there is no button to turn his Cyborg-girlfriend into a sex droid is beyond me. I guess as a teenage neuro-robotics prodigy he gets plenty of play already.

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This poster kind of goes with the sex droid theme. A bit misleading if you ask me.

Let’s just say that the remote control doesn’t work out as effectively as Paul would like, because BB-Sam goes on a killing spree to snuff out everyone who ever wronged BB or Samantha. This in mind, maybe it’s a blessing that he didn’t go the sex droid route. Although it would have made for a great death scene! LOL.

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Director Wes Craven (Scream 4, Deadly Blessing, Cursed) was playful with his low budget-limited few moments of gore. A violent dream sequence has Samantha killing her father and then being doused by his blood as if pouring from a spout. We also witness the exquisitely goretastic use of a basketball for a detonation-like decapitation. Not to mention the unreasonably stupid but equally super-fun gory surprise ending.

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Well this is totally reasonable. You see, BB’s robot spirit caused genetic changes such that under the skin her organs were replaced with circuitry and metal. Isn’t pseudoscience fun?

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The basketball scene and the ending alone are worth owning this movie, but it offers a lot of 80s horror nostalgia and a story that works in its own zany way. I really enjoyed it.

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