The Stepfather (1987/Shout! Factory DVD)
Sound: C Extras: C Film: C
Somewhere between bad B-movies, the Slice & Dice 1980s
cycle and outright thrillers, Joseph Ruben’s The Stepfather (1987) was one of the last hits of note for the
former ITC who had long lost Lord Lew Grade and would release any B-movie they
could. This one was silly, but enough of
a hit that two sequels were made and now, Shout! Factory is issuing the
original on DVD as the 2009 remake hits theaters.
Terry O’Quinn is Jerry Blake, a man who is going to find
the perfect family to be the father of, no matter who he has to kill. He has just killed off members of the latest
one he was part of, but could not take it anymore and was not going to waste
his time on divorce proceedings or just plain leave. He just decides to kill and go. As we join him, he has romanced Susan (Shelly
Hack of Charlie’s Angels, who always
looked good, but no one helped her to ever learn how to deliver dialogue lines)
to the point that they get married.
She is unaware of her new hubby’s past, but her daughter
Stephanie (Jill Schoelen) is not so sure about him and his behavior is at
first, a little odd. Then it gets much
worse. However, he acts so odd, the fact
that Susan is oblivious to this is hard to buy as you watch and Miss Hack is
not the problem, but the script is despite the participation of Donald E.
Westlake as a writer.
A cult favorite, this will now have some curio interest
and might be worth a look for the most curious, but in real life, it is nothing
that extraordinary and for the most curious only. One viewing would be enough for most who have
not seen it.
The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image shows its age
and is soft throughout despite being shot in 35mm film. The print they have hopefully is not the only
surviving material, but you never know.
Expect grain and depth limits throughout. Color is not always great either. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is very
compressed and has distortion throughout, partly because of the low budget, but
also because this was an analog Ultra Stereo release; an old sound format that
was a cheap version of Dolby analog to begin with, so you can imagine how this
sounds. Extras include a trailer, audio
commentary by Ruben and making of featurette entitled The Stepfather Chronicles.
- Nicholas Sheffo