Forgotten Friday Flick – “The Stepfather” (1987)

Forgotten Friday FlickThis week a couple of my fellow WhySoBlu cohorts took part in a podcast highlighting horror and with Halloween time being almost upon us I’ve decided to join in on the act with a past slasher selection of my own – welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick!  There are plenty of high profile slice and dice flicks out there, but today’s choice is one that some may have missed.  A frightfully fun flick complete with blood, gore and a pinch of female flesh, it’s the tale of a dedicated husband and father who will do anything to obtain the perfect family – even kill for it!  He’s weird, he’s wild and he’s got a big knife – he’s…The Stepfather!

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Jerry Blake is a man who appreciates the small things in life. He has a job as a real estate salesman and he’s made some friends out of former clients.  He’s in a house with a terrific basement that affords him quiet time to contemplate life.  And he’s got a wonderful new family including widowed new wife Susan and her 16-year old daughter Stephanie.  But something’s off about Jerry.  He’s very protective, concerned with the importance of family values and tends to get angry when his perfect life boat is rocked.  And now things in Jerry’s peaceful world are about to get difficult.

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Okay, I’m employing a ton of beat-around-the-bush tactics in the above description, but it’s all in keeping with the cheddar that is The Stepfather.  (And I’m not talking about the inferior remake or sequels – stay clear film fans!)  Far from being just a totally serious flick about murder of entire families and the devastating consequences, the film also lovingly takes the film fromage approach of the slasher genre and the results are fun for sure.  Where else can you get a horror flick that has campy one-liners (“You’re a very bad girl!”), underage nudity (only in the 80’s could you show an obviously of age gal naked and claim the character is sixteen!) and some brutal brain bashing kills (stepdad is handy with a 2×4!) that keeps knife-wielding cinema alive and well.  Pre-Sleeping With the Enemy and The Good Son helmer Joseph Ruben adds just the right amount of B-movie glee to make the more somber stuff in The Stepfather enjoyable and it’s what gives the film a very re-watchable quality.

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But if there’s an ace in the frightening family hole here it’s by far the work by frenetic father himself Terry O’Quinn.  Laying down one of the eeriest performances to grace horror’s hallowed halls (and possibly his career best work!), O’Quinn is asked to put on multiple character faces and does so with serious wacko thespian prowess.  He’s the cold-blooded killer (seeing him walk by an entire slaughtered family with no emotion is chilling!), the caring family man (he’s like a more loving Mr. Rogers – perfect!) and the psychotic loony (his solo basement freak outs and door smashing outbursts are unsettling!) all rolled up into one believable batty ball.  (Even his delivery of the more tongue-in-cheek lines manages to keep the creepy going strong!)

I’m not going to say the film is the scariest the genre has to offer (though the opening sequence will stay engrained in the brain!) or that the film doesn’t have the sting of 80’s slasher stink all over it. (Though true horror fans – like me – live for that sh@t!)  But even when The Stepfather feels like gamey past picture genre work, it’s the awesome that is O’Quinn that makes this family friendly (or unfriendly!) flick worth dying for.

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I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

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