Film Review - The Stepfather

Starring - Terry O'Quinn, Jill Schoelen, Shelly Hack | Directed by Joseph Ruben | Shout DVD WS R 89min 1987

Review By Xmortis

It's now time to look at a horror film series that has a cult following but is also unknown to man: the Stepfather films. So let's all sit around the computer monitor, drink a glass of milk like a good family would and read my reviews of this series here at

Jerry Blake is a sick and twisted man who ruins families' lives by murdering them after things go awry from what he thinks is perfect. Susan and her 16-year-old daughter Stephanie are the new family that Jerry is married into, and things are a little rocky as Stephanie dislikes her new stepfather and has been expelled from school. Jim Ogilvie, an amateur detective and brother to one of Jerry's (who was using the name Henry Morrison) last victims, is aiming to find out the whereabouts of this killer, causing Jerry to once more slip into madness. After seeing Jerry in a fit of anger in the basement reading an article about the murders, Stephanie starts to piece together that her stepfather just might be the killer. Jerry starts to piece together that his stepdaughter might know who he is, and the sinister mind games begin as Jerry kills those who are getting to close to breaking up his perfect life. Jim Ogilvie comes to town and figures out that the man he knew as Henry is somewhere married into a new family and vows to stop him for murdering them. Meanwhile Jerry is once more starting to live a double live, one with Susan and one with a new family, meaning Susan and Stephanie's lives are coming to an end. It's a race against time as Jim must rush to the rescue of Susan and Stephanie who are on the verge of being murdered. In the end it's Mother and Daughter know best as they must help each other to survive the madness.

This film features a slow build up of a man who is slowly slipping deeper into his madness of the American dream of a perfect life. The film's plot is of a serial killer who moves from family to family, killings one to move onto the other. But this time around he picked the wrong family as they wise up and a detective is hot on his tail. Terry O'Quinn plays Jerry Blake, the killer stepfather with a major mental issue that things need to be perfect or killed! The way O'Quinn can turn from the sweet loving father type to the raving mad man is perfect and is a good portrayal of a serial killer. The character of Jerry Blake is fascinating because he thinks the murders he is committing are the right thing to do and that he's doing them out of love. It seems to be very close to many real life killers and is said to be loosely based on killer John List who murdered his whole family in 1971. While not as cool as other popular 80's slasher icons like Jason Voorhees and Freddy Kruger, Jerry Blake is a nice low key horror film killer that spawned 2 sequels and a remake. The highlight kill in this movie is where Jerry beats his daughter's therapist to death with a 2x4, and his best moment is when while talking to his wife Susan, he forgets which fake life he is living. The super lovely Jill Schielen plays Stephanie and does a nice job at playing rebellious teen and not so helpless victim. She is likable, and you find yourself cheering for her wellbeing. Her fans will be happy to know that she does do a shower scene in this film. The film's pace is very slow moving, and the body count in pretty low as only two people are seen murdered in the whole film, making it not a bloodbath like you would expect. Warning Spoiler Alert! One thing I did like is the fact that the expected hero turns out to be a dud and the helpless family turns out to be the heroes. It's nice touch that I didn't see coming. The film's score is also well done and fitting for this horror thriller. Over all this is a fun watch and is one I am glad I picked to review. Plus I am really interested in seeing how Jerry comes back after being shot and stabbed at the end of part one.

This DVD has some extras that include commentary and a retrospective look at the film, all good additions to this film's experience. The cover is pretty cool but seems to be lacking something that would catch the consumer's eyes.

Growing up a horror film fan, I have always heard about this film and have seen it many times on the video rental shelves but never had the need to watch it. I was more into the classic monsters like The Wolf Man, Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula and when it came to slashers, Michael Myers, Jason, Leatherface, Pinhead and Freddy always got my attention. So when Bloodline came to the reviewers this year and told us they wanted more horror film series reviews, I picked this one due to the fact I have never seen it and always knew I should. The Stepfather is by no means a great horror film, but it is an enjoyable one with an interesting plot and a killer who seems as if he could be your next door neighbor.

Next up is Stepfather II, yet another murder spree for killer "Jerry Blake." Let's see if the sequel can hold that horror thriller charm like the first did.