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The Stepfather (1987)

  Tags: 80's, 80's Slashers, blood, Charles Lanyer, Jill Schoelen, Joseph Ruben, Robyn Stevan, Shelley Hack, stepfather, Stephen E. Miller, Stephen Shellen, Terry O'Quinn, the stepfather

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Joseph Ruben
89 minutes
Terry O'Quinn, Jill Schoelen, Shelley Hack, Charles Lanyer, Stephen Shellen, Stephen E. Miller, Robyn Stevan

After the news that Screen Gems purchased the remake rights to the film, it seemed that it was about time that I revisit the original and see if it still held up as I once remembered it. Loosely based on the real-life case of John List -- a religious man who felt he wasn't a fit provider for his family, so he murdered them in cold blood and still continued his daily routine. It wasn't until 18-years after the murders that he was caught when America's Most Wanted aired his story. Before visiting this again on a widescreen DVD, I only saw this on TV, so certain scenes (mostly the surprising amount of nudity) was cut out.

The film opens up with Terry O'Quinn's character "Jerry Blake" as he cleans his bloody hands and gives himself a nice shave right before stepping past the dead remains of the now deceased family. He's making his way to a new life and family and become the new stepfather of a teenage daughter and her mother. Unbeknownst to him the brother of the wife he killed is hot on his tail, hoping to seek his own personal vengeance for the wrong-doings. It doesn't take long before Jerry comes to the conclusion that his new family may not be as perfect as he once thought, leading him to seek a new home and family, but before he can relocate he must dispose of his current family.

Although the movie isn't high in gore or body-count, the excellent performance by Terry O'Quinn and the intriguing storyline keeps you interested. With the daughter poking her nose where it shouldn't belong, to witnessing Jerry go through his many transformations into his other life, it almost seems like the slow-pacing isn't a factor in this. When it is time for the action to pick up, the brutality and rage Terry can produce on screen makes you forget that there isn't a whole lot of blood or gore in these kills. It's the intensity he can bring to the screen that makes you fear his character, especially because he plays the perfect father in one scene and have a total outburst in the other.

This is definitely one of those underrated 80's horror movies that you may catch on late-night television and still remember years later. If you're looking to purchase this on DVD you'll need an all-region DVD player, because there's currently no Region 1 release of it in the US. Who knows how the proposed remake will be, but I doubt there's an actor out there that can top Terry O'Quinn's performance as "The Stepfather".

This is a memorable underrated 80s horror film that deserves a SE DVD treatment in the US. Check this film out if you can get your hands on it.

Posted on July 16, 2009 - 2:36am | FrighT MasteR