The Stepfather (1987)
Director: Joseph Ruben
Terry O'Quinn/Jerry Blake
The Stepfather (O'Quinn) is a man obsessed with the ideal family, his values are straight out of the 50’s and all he really wants is to be a good father/husband. He’s also a homicidal maniac who wipes out his family when they let him down and then proceeds to move on to another single woman with child to try again. His quest is noble, his methods deadly. He thinks he’s finally found salvation in Susan his new wife and Stephanie (Shoelen) her daughter. But when Stephanie starts getting in trouble in school, giving him the cold shoulder and talking about leaving home, the Stepfather gazes at that knife and the word "kill" floats in his mind….Need a little order around here.
The movie starts off on a grim note, lies dormant for a while with a few random explosions of violence and then finally blows up sky high for the finale. The script is tight and extremely well written. It would have been easy for the Stepfather to be written as a one dimensional, psychotic mess, fortunately he’s one of the most complex and layered loony since Norman Bates’s glory days. This movie deals with ordinary people, in ordinary situations which makes the grisly events much more shocking. The Stepfather is not an addition to the slate of horror movie villains, he’s really out there, he’s Manson, Gacy, Dahmer…he’s real life. Lets give real life a try…
Sunday bloody Sunday. When Step daddy gets cranking, he goes all out. The movie is not overly gory but it is brutal. The murder scenes are handled very realistically…making them more intense.
Terry O Quinn usually a bit player in mainstream movies gets to be the lead in this one. The Stepfather is a complex character and O Quinn perfectly conveys all of his different facets. From his sweetness, his sadness, his anger to his longing, O Quinn is dead on and in a perfect world an "Oscar" would have been tossed his way. Little mousy Jill Shoelen gives us a down to earth realistic performance and comes across as real teen, not a "She’s All That" teenybopper. Shelley Hack (Susan) gives an underplayed, straight forward performance...dead on. All the actors have great chemistry between them…
T & A
Double your pleasure, double your fun. For the ladies Mr. Quinn shows us his white butt and his surprisingly very tone upper body. For the gentleman: Miss Shoelen shows her beautiful bum and her small firm breasts. Everybody’s happy.
Joseph Ruben’s directing is very smooth, the suspense very intense and he even manages to squeeze out some sympathy out of us for that poor psycho.
The score is awesome and Ruben knows how to use it. We even get a kool "Pat Benatar" song. Yes she’s still hip in my book.
Tight tight tight. This movie is a great nail biter and an interesting character study. All of the characters are well written, the movie moves at a good pace, the tension is always present and the payoff actually "pays off". A brutal, nasty little thriller.
Jill Schoelen won the "Catalonian International Film Festival" award for best actress in this movie. And Joseph Ruben won the "Cognac Festival Du Film Policier" for best director.