November 2, 2009

The Stepfather (1987)
Shout! Factory

89 mins. · R
16x9 · 1.85:1

Format
DVD

Audio
English - DD 2.0

Subtitles
None

Extras
Commentary Track, Retrospective Interviews

Starring
Terry O'Quinn, Shelley Hack

Review by
John Reed


Rating



(1987)

In the midst of many mindless and cheesy horror films that made up the mid-to-late 80's, The Stepfather was a breath of fresh air in the wake of Jason, Freddie and Michael (Myers) mega sequels (all the movie franchises started off great, but were all losing steam around this time).

Based loosely on the story of convicted murder, John List, The Stepfather was a chilling portrayal of sociopath, Jerry Blake, played to perfection by a pre-LOST Terry O'Quinn. Where as many actors would have overplayed the Blake character and rendered him a caricature of a psycho, O'Quinn's rage is mostly seen through his eyes (in public) and his demeanor (to most) is one of a guy who is family value-obsessed.

One of the most revealing moments is when his rebellious and suspicious step daughter (played amazing realistic by Jill Schoelen) catches Blake in a private rage in his workshop where he takes his a psychotic fit out on a power saw and wood. He quickly reveres back to normalcy after being caught is a transformation with some of the best personality-switch acting since Joanne Woodward in The Three Faces of Eve.

While Blake easily fools his new wife (latter day Charlie's Angel, Shelley Hack) and he community, it is his daughter's correct suspicions which leads to the unraveling of Blake.

The DVD for the Stepfather is light on bonuses. A commentary with director Joseph Ruben is interesting as is the retrospective The Stepfather Chronicles which has new interviews with Ruben, Schoelen and others. Sadly the DVD does not include any bonus footage, as it is commonly known when the film was on TV, it contained several scenes not in the original movie, which would have been a nice addition to the scant extra material here.

As the recent sequel proved, no one could play the part of Jerry Blake like O'Quinn. His creepy presence and menacing stares (not to mention not knowing just what will set the guy off!) are scarier than most so-called horror films of the time.

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