Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dollar Bin Horror Spotlight:The Stepfather(1987)

By Eric Polk-
This Sunday is Father's Day and what better way to say "I Love You" to your old man then by watching this classic horror film starring legendary actor Terry O'Quinn(and if I need to explain why then you haven't been watching your X-Files. Ok, ok, ok, I know he was in Lost as well).

Released in 1987 and directed by Joseph Ruben, the movie begins with family man Henry Morrison, preparing himself to head out the door of his Seattle home,After packing his things, Henry leaves through the front door of his house, nonchalantly passing the butchered remains of his family. One year later, Henry (operating under the identity of a mild-mannered real estate agent named Jerry Blake) has married the widow Susan Maine. Jerry's relationship with Susan's teenage daughter Stephanie is strained, as Stephanie is highly suspicious of Jerry, despite his acts of kindness, such as giving her a puppy as a gift.

In Seattle, vigilante drifter, former adventurer and amateur detective James "Jim" Ogilvie, the brother of Jerry's latest victim Vicki and Jill's young uncle, convinces a reporter to run an article about his sister's slayer in the newspaper. While hosting a neighborhood barbecue, Jerry discovers the article and is clearly disturbed by it. Excusing himself from the festivities, Jerry goes into the basement of the house and begins maniacally rambling to himself (possibly recalling memories of his unhappy childhood), unaware that Stephanie is in the basement as well. Discovering his stepdaughter's presence, Jerry brushes off his outbursts by saying he was simply letting off some accumulated stress. Leaving the basement, Stephanie finds the newspaper mentioning Jerry's earlier killings and comes to believe her stepfather is the murderer Henry Morrison mentioned in the article.

I love this movie. Anyone who has or has had a stepparent had to wonder at one point what really lay behind their parental exterior, making Morrison/Blake a believable killer. It's not heavy on gore, but it doesn't have to be. Terry O'Quinns' creepy performance gives you all the horror you need. However, I wish I could have learned more about his backstory, but it probably would have bogged the movie down.

Sadly, The Stepfather, isn't mentioned in the same breath as Jason, Freddy, and Michael, but pure horror fans know this is a great piece of film. Happy Father's Day!


Explodey Jo said...

Hurrah for The X-Files being mentioned before Lost!

chico said...

my estranged dad took me and my sister to this when we were kids ;) @misfitmovies

Knifed in Venice said...

What a brilliant film, if I had kids I'd make them watch it with me. Excellent.