DEADLY FRIEND (1986)
Bob Sherman, a movie producer, offered to hire me to write a horror film for Wes Craven, whose film A Nightmare on Elm Street had been a huge hit in the horror market. Based on a book called Friend, it was story of a girl murdered by her father and the brilliant boy next door who loves her and brings her back to life. He extracts her brain and puts it into a robot, then the robot starts killing the people who tormented her.
At first I said, “I can’t write that. I have integrity. I didn’t come to Hollywood to make horror films.” The next morning, as I was meditating and feeling very smug about turning down the job, I heard [my deceased meditation teacher] Rudi’s voice in my head, as clear as could be. He said, “You schmuck! There’s more integrity in providing for your family than in turning down jobs. Get up right now, go to the phone, call the producer and say you’re going to do it.” I’ve had a long enough spiritual practice to know that when your teacher speaks to you from beyond the grave, you listen. I got up and called Bob and said, “I want this job.” He said, “It’s yours.” That film, Deadly Friend, turned out to be a joy to make and a lifesaver on many levels.
My son Joshua was about to have his bar mitzvah and we had very little money for a party. It was going to be the first peanut butter and jelly bar mitzvah in Los Angeles. About a month or so before the event, a check for $3,400 arrived in the mail. I received it with such gratitude. Blanche received it with even more gratitude. “Look closer,” she said. I did, and realized that the check was actually for $34,000. We were able to serve fish and chicken at the bar mitzvah and make a down payment on a house.
There were a lot of other benefits from working on that film, one of which was getting to know Wes Craven. Wes and I really enjoyed each other’s company because we shared the same sense of adventure about making movies. Deadly Friend was filmed on the back lot at Warner Brothers, which was 20 minutes from our house, and every evening we would pack the kids in the car and drive to the studio to watch them shoot. Usually when you’re the writer, you don’t get invited to the set. In this case, Josh and Ari became like the set mascots. It was very inclusive and very special, and made me feel like part of the Hollywood studio system.