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ambition to tell a more nuanced story but concluded It s a goal he hasn t achieved. yet in a workable whole Desmond Ryan of The Philadelphia Inquirer summed up. Craven s film is a modest pleasantry until he remembers who he is. Developments thereafter are predictable and of the sort that customers expect from. a director who clearly doesn t wish to depart too drastically from the Craven image. Unlike Craven s other films Deadly Friend has not been a subject of adoring. retrospectives nor has it received the special edition DVD treatment There have. been no commentaries no deleted scenes and no in depth attempts to analyze the. creative process that produced this unwieldy monster Perhaps that s because. Craven himself has been reluctant to talk about the film quietly noting that the year. of making Deadly Friend was one of the most troubling years of his life In an. episode of the AFI series The Directors he recalls 1986 as the year of a failed. marriage a major lawsuit and his removal from two major studio projects. Beetlejuice and Superman IV that might have led to the more mainstream success. he has always sought Glibly noting that Deadly Friend his first film for a major. studio had about 20 producers that all had different opinions he concludes I m. amazed that anything came out of that film that it s watchable whatsoever. Over the years screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin has also been relatively. dismissive of the finished film although he acknowledges the project as a major. turning point in his life At the time he was approached to write Deadly Friend. Rubin s Hollywood career was based entirely on a story by credit for the brilliant. but troubled 1983 film Brainstorm He had recently moved his family from Indiana. to Los Angeles on the advice of friend Brian DePalma but he had no job prospects. All he had was a spec screenplay called Jacob s Ladder which was being hailed by. industry insiders as one of the best unproduced screenplays in recent memory. That s what prompted Craven and producer Robert M Sherman to approach him. about adapting Diana Henstell s novel Friend, Rubin remembers Bob Sherman sent me the book I read it and I thought to. myself I can t do that I have integrity I didn t come to Hollywood to write horror. films And I was going to call him the next morning and say that I couldn t do it In. the morning about 7am I got up and I was meditating and feeling very smug. about turning it down As I was sitting there I heard the voice of my deceased. meditation teacher Rudi in my head as clear as could be He said to me out of the. ether Schmuck There s more integrity in providing for your family than in turning. down jobs Then he said Get up right now go to the phone call the producer and. say you re going to do it It s not often that I get a call from beyond the grave so I. did exactly what he said, Rubin goes on to say that the job turned out to be a lifesaver on many. levels It rescued him financially and kick started his career in Hollywood A few. years later following the success of Ghost and Jacob s Ladder he had become one of. Hollywood s most sought after screenwriters Although he remembers the making. of Deadly Friend as a wonderful experience and praises the people he worked. with on the film particularly Wes Craven he has rarely looked back. Recently Bruce kindly granted me access to multiple drafts of his screenplay. for Deadly Friend which had been hidden away in a closet for nearly three decades. That allowed me a better understanding of the creative process that turned Diana. Henstell s novel into the cinematic equivalent of Frankenstein s monster a film with. a surprisingly big heart a rather small brain and plenty of guts The development. of this particular film was not so different from most Hollywood projects Despite. what many viewers and reviewers may assume filmmaking is an intensely. collaborative art and no one person ever has complete control of the story Not the. director Not the producer Certainly not the writer In some cases a test audience. will actually have more control than anyone In this particular instance the. haphazard combination of several minds created a whole that was remarkably less. than the sum of its parts, The following is a kind of autopsy. FIRST LIFE FRIEND, Kristy Swanson Matthew Laborteaux and BeeBee in a deleted scene from Deadly Friend. Deadly Friend began its life as a popular novel by Diana Henstell simply. called Friend The story revolves around an emotionally disturbed 13 year old boy. named Paul Piggy Conway Piggy is cursed with a lack of social grace troubled. over his parents recent divorce and haunted by daydreams and nightmares about a. violent accident that resulted in the fiery death of a classmate For a while his only. friend is a robot named BeeBee which Piggy built himself That changes when he. and his mother move to a small town in Pennsylvania and Piggy befriends Samantha. Pringle the 11 year old girl next door, Sam and Piggy have an instant connection because they are both essentially.
adults trapped in children s bodies Piggy has an elevated IQ that separates him. from his peers Samantha s father Harry treats her more like a wife than a daughter. forcing her to cook and clean for him right up until the moment when he murders. her in a drunken rage After her death Piggy uses his advanced knowledge of robots. and biochemistry to transplant BeeBee s brain into the Samantha s body Henstell. obviously aware that she s treading on familiar ground crafts this plot twist as an. homage to Frankenstein Sam s resurrection takes place in a science lab on a dark. and stormy night and a bolt of lightning brings her back to life. Like Mary Shelley s famous monster however Sam doesn t come back all the. way At first she can t walk and she never re learns how to talk The only thing she. does really well is kill She strangles her father in the basement of her childhood. home drowns neighbor Elvira Williams in the bathtub and inadvertently causes the. death of a local police deputy Regardless Piggy loves her He refuses to. acknowledge that he has created a monster until Sam attacks his parents and even. then he can t let her go Piggy finally chases his creation out into a wicked. snowstorm like a certain famous baron and the story ends on a tragic note when. Sam jumps into an icy river and Piggy follows her down into darkness. The author says she knew from the start that Friend was going to be a. tragedy because the entire story came to her in a remarkable way Henstell a. former publishing executive who already had one supernatural novel The Other. Side under her belt remembers I lived on the Upper West Side of New York and I. was walking down Broadway one day I walked through a construction tunnel and I. heard Piggy whispering in my ear He said My name is Piggy and I really am real. you know And I turned around went home called my agent and just spilled out. the whole plot I knew the whole story It was in my head Realizing that this. anecdote sounds like a carefully constructed publicity spiel as a former Vice. President of the Times Mirror Company and Editor in Chief of New American. Library she knows the drill Henstell adds I swear this is absolutely true. Obviously I ve got a good imagination but this is true. The heart of the story in the author s mind was Piggy s bond with Sam Both. children have suffered tragedy Piggy s is in the past Sam s is ongoing and that is. what brings them so close When Sam returns from the dead as a violent monster. Piggy still loves her because he can understand why she is a violent monster. Henstell reflects There are two kinds of people I think who have suffered violence. to the degree that Sam has One becomes an advocate for change and enters a. monastery or a convent or does work in Africa or something like that And the other. kind becomes a serial killer Nobody comes out of that kind of childhood unchanged. or untouched And I pushed that to the limit When Sam comes back she no longer. has any moral bearings She s not the advocate or the nun She went the other way. Piggy also passes a moral point of no return by concealing his murderous. creation Once he does he knows he is doomed Reflecting on the character s. subsequent solitude Henstell says The thing that comes back to haunt me. whenever my mind skips to it which is rarely but it does happen is the scene. where Piggy is in the attic with Sam He s in the rocker and he is thinking I m only. 11 and I already know more people dead than alive That was true of so many people. of the generation that came before me Kids had suffered through the Holocaust and. World War II There were so many kids that really did not know anybody alive. They knew more people dead That was really a touchstone to me Piggy had that in. common with those people, The author remembers that there was much discussion with her agent and. her editor over the novel s bleak ending but she says she never seriously. considered altering it Once Friend was published she felt relieved to have. conveyed Piggy s story exactly as it was conveyed to her And everyone fell in love. with the story she says My friends were all in the publishing industry They. were all crazy about it There just was something magical about it I don t even. know how I came to write it really, Then Hollywood came calling Henstell remembers I did not want to write. the movie script Until I saw the movie, SECOND LIFE A I. Matthew Laborteaux and Kristy Swanson in a deleted scene from Deadly Friend. Bruce Joel Rubin submitted his initial story treatment titled A I to. Warner Brothers in May 1985 followed by a first draft screenplay on July 19 His. changes to the story reflected a wealth of independent research on child prodigies. and autonomous robots These were popular topics in the summer of 1985. inspiring films like D A R Y L Explorers Weird Science Real Genius and My Science. Project so it was only natural for the writer to emphasize these elements. Accordingly Paul Conway is no longer simply an advanced science student he is. now a boy genius who is being courted by the most prestigious universities More to. the point He s no longer a chubby nerd with peer problems and a dark past but a. well adjusted handsome boy with strong features and a bright future. Accordingly the nickname Piggy disappears in this draft BeeBee no longer. symbolizes his creator s isolation from human contact so much as his intelligence. That said BeeBee is much more than a symbol in the film He is the robotic. equivalent of E T or Gizmo and thus the first act of A I is more of a lighthearted. boy and his pet movie than a modern day variation on the Frankenstein myth. Rubin reflects on the comparison to E T 1982 and Gremlins 1984 That s. more of what I was aiming at And Wes was on board with that I didn t like a lot of. the tropes in the novel My instinct was to get away from the Frankenstein clich s. and Bob and Wes liked that I had a different take on the story None of that would. have gone forward without Wes s blessing My impression at that point was that he. was trying to get out of the horror genre He wanted to make something that had. more basis in character and the sort of emotional underpinnings that he had not had. in his other films, In subsequent drafts there is greater focus on developing Sam and BeeBee. as complex characters One scene that didn t make it into the final film is a poignant. dialogue scene between Paul and Sam in which they discuss their absent parents. Paul has come to terms with his father s absence but Sam continues to express. hatred and rage toward the mother who abandoned her and the father who abuses. her In the novel Paul can relate to Sam s pain from personal experience but in the. script he responds more like a mature advisor diagnosing her repressed anger as. battered child syndrome Sam is the tortured one The scene highlights an. important aspect of her character and helps to explain the motivations of the. resurrected Sam later in the film in much the way that novelist Diana Henstell. understands them Sam is already predisposed to become a monster. Elsewhere in the script Rubin emphasizes BeeBee s boldness when it. encounters the curmudgeonly neighbor Elvira Williams After the old lady pulls a. shotgun on him BeeBee appears reluctant to leave her property Later in a. departure from the novel Elvira punishes the robot s boldness by blasting him with. the shotgun The script thus sets up the idea that while Sam has the motivation to. kill her father BeeBee is the one with the motivation to kill Elvira The. establishment of this dichotomy two vengeful minds in one resurrected body. suggests a new narrative problem to be solved Which monster will become. dominant in the end Sam or BeeBee, The final shooting script submitted in December 1985 includes a poignant.
new scene near the beginning of the final act in which the resurrected Sam finds a. photo of herself with Paul and BeeBee She sheds a single tear that suggests hope. for the survival of her humanity and Paul embraces her a reaction that is. appropriate only because undead Sam still looks like the beautiful girl he fell in love. with as opposed to the rotting corpse in the novel In an effort to highlight the love. story Rubin has avoided the more overtly horrific details of the novel including a. gruesome sequence where Paul sees that rats have been gnawing on his dead. Hollywood s most sought after screenwriters Although he remembers the making of Deadly Friend as a wonderful experience and praises the people he worked with on the film particularly Wes Craven he has rarely looked back Recently Bruce kindly granted me access to multiple drafts of his screenplay for Deadly Friend which had been hidden away in a closet for nearly three decades

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