6.8/10
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103 user 93 critic

The Stepfather (1987)

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1:21 | Trailer
After murdering his entire family, a man marries a widow with a teenage daughter in another town and prepares to do it all over again.

Director:

Joseph Ruben

Writers:

Carolyn Lefcourt (story), Brian Garfield (story) | 2 more credits »
2 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Terry O'Quinn ... Jerry Blake
Jill Schoelen ... Stephanie Maine
Shelley Hack ... Susan
Charles Lanyer Charles Lanyer ... Dr. Bondurant
Stephen Shellen ... Jim Ogilvie
Stephen E. Miller ... Al Brennan
Robyn Stevan ... Karen
Jeff Schultz ... Paul Baker
Lindsay Bourne Lindsay Bourne ... Art Teacher
Anna Hagan ... Mrs. Leitner
Gillian Barber ... Annie Barnes
Blu Mankuma ... Lt. Jack Wall
Jackson Davies Jackson Davies ... Mr. Chesterton
Sandra Head Sandra Head ... Receptionist
Gabrielle Rose ... Dorothy Rinehard
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Storyline

A family-values man named Jerry Blake (Terry O'Quinn) marries widows and divorcées with children in search of the perfect family. As soon as his new family members show signs of being human and not robots who will march unquestioningly to his tune, his dreams of domestic bliss begin to crumble, and he kills them. Then he alters his appearance, assumes a new identity, and skips to another town to begin the deadly ritual all over again. He marries Susan Maine (Shelley Hack), who sees him as the ideal surrogate father for her teenage daughter Stephanie (Jill Schoelen), and he is soon up to his old tricks when she proves to be too much of a troublesome teen to handle. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Jerry Blake loves taking care of the family. Any family. See more »

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | Canada | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 June 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Stepfather I See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$260,587, 25 January 1987

Gross USA:

$2,488,740

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,488,740
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Ultra Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first draft of the screenplay featured flashbacks which helped explain Jerry Blake's (Terry O'Quinn's) abused childhood, that was instrumental in his becoming a killer. See more »

Goofs

When Susan is shooting Jerry from the bottom of the stairs and the gun misfires, she tries to alleviate the problem by tapping the bottom of the grip, which is a move only for fixing a jammed semi-automatic pistol. It is a way of making sure the clip is all the way in. However, the pistol Susan is holding is a revolver and tapping the bottom will do nothing to help.

It would be more of a blooper if tapping the bottom helped, but it didn't help. And it could, possibly, be attributed to Susan just not knowing what she is doing, but tapping the bottom is not something a novice would do to fix a jam, so someone directing the movie told her to do that. See more »

Quotes

Jerry Blake: Expelled? Girls don't get expelled!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in King of the Hill: Untitled Blake McCormick Project (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Sleeping Beauty
(1985)
Performed by Divinyls (as Divinyls)
Music and Lyrics by Christina Amphlett (as C. Amphlett) and Mark McEntee (as M. McEntee)
Published by Astute Lullaby Kings/Rare Blue Music, Inc. (ASCAP)
Courtesy of Chrysalis Records, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
See it for O'Quinn.
17 November 2014 | by Hey_SwedenSee all my reviews

"The Stepfather" is one of the better thrillers to come out of the 1980s: a very pointed look at one very old fashioned individuals' commitment to traditional values, or to put it another way, his intense, ongoing search for perfection. Perfection that, of course, we know can never really be obtained.

"Jerry Blake" (character actor Terry O'Quinn, in his legendary first starring role) is a mass murderer of families. He selects widows with children, ingratiates himself to the woman, and marries into the family. Desperately seeking an ideal American family, he inevitably erupts into violence whenever the family disappoints him. And then on he moves to another brood, and another fabricated life.

O'Quinns' wonderful performance, and the very resonant theme, help to make this a solid diversion. It's based on the real life story of John List, who'd murdered his whole family, and set himself up with a new identity in a new town. He wasn't caught until 'America's Most Wanted' came along in the late 1980s and profiled him. (As a matter of fact, his arrest coincided with the release of this films' first sequel.) The screen story is credited to authors Carolyn Lefcourt, Brian Garfield, and Donald E. Westlake, with Westlake writing the screenplay.

Efficiently directed by Joseph Ruben, this works towards a rather conventional finale, but until then is quite gripping. The lovely Jill Schoelen is appealing as the suspicious stepdaughter Stephanie, while Shelley Hack is adequate as Susan, the unsuspecting new woman in Jerry's life. Charles Lanyer, as kindly psychiatrist Dr. Bondurant, and Stephen Shellen, as Jim Ogilvie, are fine in support.

The opening sequence is nothing short of chilling, especially considering how calmly O'Quinn plays it. There is a fair amount of gore here, as well as some T & A supplied by Ms. Schoelen. The "Who am I here?" moment has become fairly iconic.

O'Quinn reprised his role for the first sequel, but for the third movie, it was recast with Robert Wightman.

Nine out of 10.


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