The Stepfather II (Arrow Recommends)

The Stepfather II (Arrow Recommends)
7 10

Arrow Recommends is a column that has my sorry ass advise older movies to your royal asses. I will be flexible in terms of genres i.e. I will cover whatever the bleep I want. For now, it will be the way to keep my voice on the site.

PLOT: Having survived the coup de grace he got at the end of the first The Stepfather film, our fav Dad of the Year (Terry O Quinn) winds up in an insane asylum, eventually escapes and finds yet another unsuspecting single mother (Meg Foster) with a child (Jonathan Brandis) to latch onto in the hopes of attaining that “perfect family”. Of course things don’t go as planned and brutal discipline has to be applied. ORDER will be attained!

LOWDOWN: Joseph Rubens taunt, twisted and social commentary charged 1987 THE STEPFATHER was a critical hit but went somewhat unnoticed on the big screen (most likely due to the lack of big names in it). Thankfully, it got discovered on VHS, DVD, TV and then Blu-Ray. It became a cult classic; so much so that they actually did a LIMP-DICK remake of it in 2009 that I had totally forgotten existed (much like that Poltergeist remake… the f*ck was that about) until I sat down to write this crap.  

But f*ck the remake, lets focus on the sequel and I don’t mean the Terry O Quinn-less 1992 made of TV follow up THE STEPFATHER III (aka garbage). Am talking about Jeff Burr’s (Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw massacre III) take on the character! THE STEPFATHER II: MAKE ROOM FOR DADDY (lol at that moniker) somewhat got a bum rap upon its release and I’m here to give ya 8 reasons as to why this Part Deux is worth a freaking watch! Sharpen up that blade, Daddy’s Home!

-Where the first film was more of a mature thriller with “some” slasher conventions – the sequel took the story template of the original and went full on slasher with it (right down to a Michael Myers like escape from an Asylum and a token “it was a cat scare”). And although it made for a cheesier tale, almost a "send-up" of the OG– it still managed to entertain! Last I checked, there’s nothing wrong with cheese! 

-One of the big reasons I had so much fun with this film was Terry O Quinn’s manic performance. Quinn knew the kind of movie he was in (a low budget sequel). Hence, where in the first film he played straight and chilling (and got praised by critics for his showcase), here although still a scary mofo in places, he went heavier with the random tidbits of campiness, with my favorite being when he listens to his Rice Crispies “snap crackle and pop” in his bowl with a big freaking grin on his face. F-ing priceless! Word has it that Quinn improvised a lot on set, and it worked! He was the back-bone of the film – without him, the whole wouldn’t have gelled. In my useless opinon of course. 

-The circumstantial comedy! There were lots of laughs at Step-Pop’s expense as they tossed the character in new situations that completely conflicted with his psychotic “Leave it to Beaver” persona. Like Step-Dad going through video dating candidates (hilarious), how he dealt with hearing "women’s sex life problems” (hummers), or his reaction when faced with pre-marital sex.  It added bleak levity to the proceedings.

-The gore! When Miramax nabbed the film, they wanted more blood. Jeff Burr and star Terry O Quinn were against it. So, the Studio hired another director to shoot further bloodshed, got a double for Quinn and slightly re-edited the film. Personally, I don't see this flick working without the red grub. It's a slasher. A slasher with no graphic violence is like a pizza with no toppings - useless (You hear me Prom Night remake?!). But I guess I'd have to see Burr's cut to make a firm decision on if it was the right move or not.

-Totally random but at certain point Step-Da Da is dressed exactly like a grandmother. The shawl, the granny glasses, it was hilarious! Totally popped out at me on this watch. Have a drink to me when you spot that bit! 

-The cast! This follow up was well populated. Meg Foster was affable and hypnotizing as always. Those eyes, that voice, man I love that woman. I heard that many (Burr included) found her to be miscast (She was a last minute replacement – I wonder who was first cast?). And I don’t get it – I thought she owned it! Scream Queen Caroline Williams often stole the show as the snarky (and nosy) best friend while the late Jonathan Brandis (poor dude hung himself in 2003, RIP) gave a credible and non-annoying show (always a plus for a child actor).  

-Burr’s eye! That is one aspect I got to appreciate more on this watch. The man pimped out creative shots while lighting wise, this follow up often echoed a Giallo with its red and blu-ish hews. There was also a keen attention to details that I had missed on previous watches and some sweet ways of constructing scenes with one of my favs being a woman choking inter-cut with a reverse on a picture frame of the choking woman’s best friend. Well done!  

-The finale! I won’t spoil it but it’s totally BONKERS and oh so deliciously brutal! I was smiling like a toddler filling his diaper! What a way to finish a movie!

On the downside; the film was filled with plot holes and if taken as a thriller they WOULD HAVE bothered me, but being that this was a slasher, they were easier to swallow. Things like, a character turning his back on our killer for some reason (guess what happens), news reports about Step-Daddy having escaped the bin on the news that never include his mug shot, pretending that not everybody in the world knows the "Camptown Ladies" whistle (come on), or nobody hearing the ruckus during the final fight. Yup, the usual slasher stuff i.e. dumb moves to serve the plot. But again, all of this didn’t grate me much cause I was too busy chewing on Pop Corn and giggling in my seat. 

If you are to re-visit The Stepfather sequel (or see it for the first time), I recommend you snag the Synapse DVD which has a solid transfer of the film and cool extras (like a Making of Documentary which I always find fascinating). Either way THE STEPFATHER II was not the class that was its predecessor, think almost a parody of the original, but it was still competent and exploitative crass! Not every genre meal has to be a steak – sometimes a messy cheeseburger with too much Ketchup will do! Any other fans of this one out there? Talk to me!



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