After escaping the insane asylum in which he was incarcerated, Jerry Blake (Terry O'Quinn) impersonates a marriage counselor and manages to win over a patient (Meg Foster) and her young son (Jonathan Brandis).
That psycho stepfather has escaped from the insane asylum and had his face surgically altered. Now he's married again, this time to a woman with a child in a wheelchair. He goes on a ... See full summary »
Michael Harding (Penn Badgely) returns home from military school to find his mother Susan (Sela Ward) happily in love and living with her new boyfriend David (Dylan Walsh). As the two men get to know each other, he becomes more and more suspicious of the man who is always there with a helpful hand.
While driving a van through Mexico looking for a location for shooting a low-budget porn, Alphonse, Steve, Dallas, Debbie, the alcoholic Daisy and the pothead Jimbo get lost and meet a ... See full summary »
The relationship between Eric and Stephanie is floundering. They decide to leave for the Republic of Santiago to visit the famous ruins. Once there, they learn that a serial killer rages on steep roads of the region, eliminating drunk drivers.
A family-values man named Jerry Blake (Terry O'Quinn) marries widows and divorcées with children in search of the perfect family. As soon as his new family members show signs of being human and not robots who will march unquestioningly to his tune, his dreams of domestic bliss begin to crumble, and he kills them. Then he alters his appearance, assumes a new identity, and skips to another town to begin the deadly ritual all over again. He marries Susan Maine (Shelley Hack), who sees him as the ideal surrogate father for her teenage daughter Stephanie (Jill Schoelen), and he is soon up to his old tricks when she proves to be too much of a troublesome teen to handle.Written by
Run Between the Raindrops
Performed by Pat Benatar
Music and Lyrics by Myron Grombacher (as M. Grombacher) and Neil Giraldo (as N. Geraldo)
Published by Tyreach Music/Neil Geraldo Music Co./Rare Blue Music, Inc. (ASCAP)
Courtesy of Chrysalis Records, Inc. See more »
John Locke Kills His Family - sufferforyourart.com review
There's nothing quite like a satisfying little thriller. It doesn't pretend to be too important or ground-breaking, it doesn't make its villain too omnipotent, and it doesn't have too-smart-for-its-own-good subtext. This modesty takes the intriguing premise of Joseph Ruben's The Stepfather and raises it to a whole new level, creating a classic and unnerving thriller for the whole (dead) family.
Jerry Blake (Lost's Terry O'Quinn) is the titular stepfather of Stephanie (Jill Schoelen), a 16-year-old high school student with a knack for picking fights and being a generally ill-behaved brat. Her mother Susan (Shelley Hack) trusts her new husband to the utmost degree, but Stephanie feels that there's something wrong. What neither knows is that Stephanie is more than correct: Jerry is a serial killer obsessed with family values, and Stephanie's teenage angst doesn't jive with his need for perfection. Meanwhile, Jim Ogilvie (Steven Shellen), the brother of Jerry's last wife/victim, is on the hunt for the elusive murderer.
Director Ruben crafted quite the slice of horror thriller cinema with this 1987 gem, opting to let O'Quinn's frightening performance carry the film. The general execution is handled with pure professionalism, and the cinematography by John Lindley is very nice to look at, but it's all really rather ordinary. The entire film acts as framework for O'Quinn, who chews this well-developed scenery like a lesbian with carpet. Of course his most frightening moments, where his anger takes over and he becomes a rambling psychotic are easily noted as some of the more intense elements, but even the quietest moments are best called unnerving. We as the audience know from the very beginning what he is, so to see and hear him giving monologues about keeping the family together and how important it is to him is kind of creepy.
The supporting cast does their job well enough, never upstaging O'Quinn but also never diving into mediocrity. Jill Schoelen plays a 16-year-old girl like she should, as a 16-year-old girl. She's never too smart for her age or overly stereotypical, but at the same time she has an active and somewhat immature interest in boys and talking on the phone. She's believable, and I liked that. Shelley Hack as Stephanie's mother gives off enough insecurity to make it as a widow looking for the missing piece to her life, adequately combining weakness with love for her daughter. Our proposed hero Jim comes off as a bit one-dimensional, but Steven Shellen's intensity gives him just enough believability to float rather than sink.
Of course, all of these characters are nothing without a good script, and Donald E. Westlake delivers. It's not the most original execution, and follows a pretty straightforward storyline. Westlake doesn't burden us with any over the top twists, instead relying on an intense character riding a unique premise. The simplicity of it all is admirable and while the script could have been helped by a more complex plot, it could have just as easily been hackneyed junk. Considering all of the possibilities, it's comforting to know that keeping everything simple and unassuming can still create entertaining, if sometimes subtle, thrills and chills.
The Stepfather isn't a masterpiece, but it's still quite an achievement. Taking an idea that could have just as easily been a Lifetime Original Movie and morphing it into one of the more disturbing low key thrillers of the '80s as well as creating one of the greatest opening sequences in horror is commendable, especially when you're the same guy who directed The Good Son.
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