Shaun vs. Deadly Friend (1986)


Directed by Wes Craven

Starring Matthew Labyorteaux, Kristy Swanson and Michael Sharrett

Paul, a young robotics genius builds his own Johnny-5 robot named “BB” with its own artificial intelligence.  After moving in to new house to go to school, Paul is smitten with Samantha, the girl next door, and everything goes alright until BB is destroyed and Sam is killed in an accident after which Paul decides to merge BB’s computer brain with Sam’s with dangerous consequences.

Ok, where to begin…well, the beginning is actually a nice start.  Paul and his mother have stopped by a 7-11 which immediately makes it a huge target for a carjacking because that happens all the time, right?  A scumbag gets the surprise of his life when he looks in the backseat and a robotic arm grabs him by the throat only to let him go when it realizes Paul is coming back.  So three minutes into the film we can establish that there is probably an evil robot.


Yeah, i’m talking about you.

The robot turns out to be “BB,” a sentient robot built by Paul, an apparent mega genius in 1986 for creating such amazing artificial intelligence.  Except for BB’s voice, which sounds like a mix of Ewok, robotic gibberish and the funny sounds only Roger Rabbit voice actor Charles Fleischer can provide.  It’s cute for five seconds.  The robot looks a little silly but let’s remember it was made by someone not funded by the government. 


“Did you notice there are no vampires living on this street?”

Paul meets Tom, the local paperboy and they become the best of friends, then he meets Samantha, the cute girl next door, played by a debuting Kristy Swanson, pre-Buffy movie.  Her father is an abusive asshole so she latches onto Paul and his super nice mother pretty quickly.  Aside from a bully problem that is solved quickly by BB grabbing some nuts, everything is going just fine for Paul until Halloween night.

Tom convinces Paul to get BB to break the lock of a paranoid old lady to play a prank and apparently become neighbourhood legends.  The prank goes terribly awry and the lady shotguns poor, annoying BB into pieces.  I’m confused because I was so sure the robot was an evil robot that was gonna go on a rampage.  As if that wasn’t bad enough for Paul, Samantha’s father shoves her down the stairs in a drunken fit of anger and she cracks her skull against the wall. 


Samantha…your hands are freezing!

After being told the doctors will pull the plug on her, Paul and Tom race to save her because Paul has a vague idea of merging BB’s microchip brain with Samantha’s to save her.  Even though every possible thing that could go wrong happens, they come out with the body although the docs pulled her plug earlier than expected.  Samantha winds up returning back to life but BB’s evil brain gets her to kill those involved in both their deaths.


A zombie with a computer brain…sounds so 50’s sci-fi.

That’s an awful lot of silly build up for what actually sounds like a decent story!  The story goes the original story was more about character development, especially the unique love story between Paul and Samantha as the film goes on.  It’s these moments that actually make the movie actually feel like it’s a real movie.  But studio mandated re-shoots wound up adding gory kill scenes and nightmare scenarios to beef up the film’s chances at success and some scenes had to get cut but this changed the film’s tone quite a bit.

If you were to ask me if the movie is good, you’ll get a quick “yes and no” followed by the explanation that no, of course it’s not “good” but yes, it was fun to watch.  I was initially dismissive because of the silly killer robot aspect but it grew into something I didn’t expect and made the film a little interesting and got me through to the end.  Along the way I found the film provided a plethora of unintentional comedy, particularly from the reshot death scenes that are so gory they feel out of place in this film that normally comes off like a PG-rated film. 


Now you know what movie this gif you saw on the internet came from.

It’s impressively bad and yet it’s a fun waste of 90 minutes and that’s the reason I can recommend it.  It’s far from Wes Craven’s best film won’t top anyone’s list of the late director’s films but there’s no denying that it’s still entertaining even after all these years so it’s certainly not his worst film either…which is Shocker.


Story:  6 – Only in the 80s could this film be made.  It’s a hokey horror take on films like “Short Circuit” or “Not Quite Human.” 

Blood: 7 – Unexpectedly over the top in many scenes, you won’t believe the amount of blood shown in this film.  The highlight is the now classic scene involving someone’s head exploding via thrown basketball.  Now I’ve seen everything.

Nudity: 0 – BB didn’t wear pants.

Overall: 6 – I’d probably give it a lower mark if it weren’t for the fact that I had fun watching the film.  It may not be my favorite killer robot movie (Chopping Mall) but it’s pretty close!  That’s praise, right?


-A year after Deadly Friend was released, Kristy Swanson worked on “Not Quite Human,” another film with an inventor creating a lifelike artificially intelligent robot.  Except this one doesn’t kill people, I think Disney made it.

-I swear you hear “BB” a hundred times in this movie.

-The film garnered an X rating from the MPAA after the gore scenes were added so those had to be trimmed up to bring the film down to an R rating.

-Did you watch that trailer?  No robot in sight!  It’s a totally different movie that’s being advertised.


RIP Wes Craven

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