In a modest suburban bathroom a man cleans his hands, takes a shower, and shaves his beard. He packs a few belongings in a suitcase and heads downstairs, casually passing the bloody remains of his massacred family along the way. He even whistles “Camptown Races” as he heads out the door and grabs the morning paper.
So begins the 1987 film The Stepfather, starring Terry O’Quinn as “Jerry Blake” (one of his numerous assumed identities), an unhinged sociopath who marries into existing families in order to force them into his obsession with traditional, old-fashioned family life. This obsession is so powerful that whenever his new family doesn’t live up to his expectations, he murders them and moves on to a new identity, a new town…and a new family.
The current prey of this calculating predator is Susan and her daughter Stephanie. While Susan has accepted Jerry into her home, Stephanie is not so enthusiastic, and her trepidation is based on more than the usual adjustments with the change in family dynamic. She is simply afraid of him, and believes there’s more to Jerry than the friendly Ward Cleaver facade he displays in front of the neighbors.
As the film progresses, cracks begin to form in Jerry’s plans when his conflict with Stephanie grows. The brother of one of Jerry’s previous victims is also hot on his trail, tracking him down from his last known whereabouts and identity. The suspense builds as Jerry becomes more desperate to keep his dreams of living with the perfect family alive—even if it means his latest family must die.
The film is worth watching for Terry O’Quinn’s excellent, unpredictable performance alone. He turns from cordial gentleman to raging lunatic and back again in the blink of an eye, and you genuinely fear for any character that is left alone with him. Check out the film’s trailer below, and then sit back and watch the terror unfold. Father knows best!
[youtube id=”C6dg84FhA9k” align=”center” mode=”normal” autoplay=”no”]