Halloween Scene: With (Robot) ‘Friends’ Like These…

2009-02-05
3:16:36 pm

You know how sometimes your friend will tell you about a movie that sounds pretty awesome and then, in fact, turns out to BE pretty awesome? Well, I was hoping that would happen after Rickey gave me the following description of Wes Craven’s Deadly Friend (1986) (paraphrased, of course): “So, there’s this kid who built a robot and he likes this girl. A neighbor shoots the robot and the girl’s abusive dad accidentally kills her, so the kid combines them and the robo girl starts killing people.” He then sends me a clip of a girl throwing a basketball at an old woman and her head EXPLODES (it’s on YouTube, just search for Deadly Friend) and I was sold.

Unfortunately, Deadly Friend is a freaking boring movie. If the above premise sounds awesome and you love the YouTube clip, don’t bother with the movie. Just watch the clip over and over and you’ll get more enjoyment out of this flick because, even though the clip promises Machine Girl levels of gore, that one scene is about all you get. There’s also a really weird scene at the very end (I guess this is a SPOILER, but seriously, don’t bother seeing this movie) where the kid is standing over the dead girl and her skin starts tearing away to reveal a sleeker version of the robot underneath her skin. It’s actually a pretty cool looking scene, but it doesn’t make any sense seeing as how he merely put some kind of chip into her chest cavity to bring her back from the dead.

To be completely honest, I don’t remember a lot of the other details about the movie because it was boring, I watched it a few weeks ago and I was probably either dozing off or reading a trade towards the end, but I do remember that the robot looked like a weird combination of Wall-E and Johnny 5 from Short Circuit (a movie I freaking LOVED as a kid). Oh, also, Christy Swanson plays the girl/robot, but even that wasn’t interesting enough to keep me, well, interested.

Speaking of Johnny 5, his human companion, Steph-a-nie (a.k.a. Ally Sheedy) stars in the other robot movie I watched in the past few weeks, Man’s Best Friend (1993). I can’t say that Man’s Best Friend is a movie I’ve been wanting to see for years or anything, though I do remember seeing the box in my local video store. In fact, the only reason I watched it is because it was going to disappear from my Netflix Watch Instantly thing. Plus it boasted Lance Henriksen in a starring role, so I figured, what the heck?

It’s not a great movie, but I’d probably watch it again before I’d watch Deadly Friend. The basic idea is that Sheedy’s a news lady who’s trying to expose animal testing at some kind of facility only to accidentally free a dog named Max that turns out to be an experiment in genetics and robotics. You see, Henriksen and his scientist buddies combined the DNA of animals like monkeys, owls and squirrels (or something) into a dog, but he’s also part robot for some reason (again, I got bored and missed some presumably important plot points).

Anyway, the dog’s dangerous and has some pretty cool kills, especially if you keep telling yourself it’s not a real dog climbing a tree and devouring a clearly real cat (the dog is the obvious fake in this case). The kills are pretty cool, but the whole time I was kind of dumbfounded this this movie got made. I’m not really familiar with either Henriksen or Sheedy’s careers at this point, so this could either have been a movie with pretty big names or a desperate grab for cash from two not-so-hot-anymore stars, but man, what a weird movie.

So, if you’re feeling like watching a robot movie, watch Wall-E or Short Circuit. If you’re looking for a robot movie about killing and you’ve seen the Terminator movies a million times, I guess you could check out Man’s Best Friend. And, if you’re a Craven completist, I still recommend skipping Deadly Friend.

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