The Stepfather – a Blu-ray review
Director: Joseph Ruben
Starring: Terry O’Quinn, Jill Schoelen, Shelley Hack
Review by Brian M. Sammons

Long before Terry O’Quinn gained fame for getting Lost as John Locke, he was one of those hard working actors who would pop up in a ton of movies and TV shows, but never as the leading man. Then came this little suspense thriller in 1987 and Terry got his big break. Or at least, this is the first movie that I remember him playing the lead. That could be because this movie is just so memorable. In fact this movie is so well remembered by horrorheads that naturally Hollywood felt the need to desecrate those memories and make yet another needless remake out of it. Well no real surprise, but that remake sucked pretty bad. Luckily that gray cloud of remake ickiness did have a silver lining; it was all the excuse the folks at Shout Factory needed to re-release this gem of a film after a far too long absence. It first came out on DVD a few months back and now it’s in glorious Blu-ray format. So, be on your best behavior boys and girls, stepdaddy dearest is coming and it’s best not to upset him.

Terry plays a great, remorseless psychopath looking for the perfect family, but always seeming to fall just a tad short in his quest. When that happens, daddy deadliest packs up his things and moves on, but he leaves no survivors in his wake. That includes his own small children. Terry is creepy as all hell in this movie. He can turn on a dime at any given moment and can shift emotional gears with ease and in a matter of seconds. One moment he’s all smiles and the next he’s caving your head in with a 2X4. Afterwards, he’s all smiles again. He’s also a man without a real identity and he slips in and out of personas as easily as you or I put on and take off hats. Really, people go on and on about how great Terry O’Quinn was in Lost, and he was good in that TV show, but this movie is the real testament to his considerable acting prowess.

Joining Terry in this first rate thriller is the lovely scream queen from the 80s, Jill Schoelen as the teen daughter of the woman Terry has just wed only one year after decimating his last family. The film is told in equal parts from both Terry and Jill’s POV. Jill’s story has the girl investigating her weird new stepfather. Terry’s tale is all about a psycho losing his tentative grasp on reality once more. So begins a teasing game of dread anticipation as the stepfather begins to pull up stakes, not to mention pile up the bodies, while the quintessential good girl next door tries to put the puzzle pieces together before both her and her mother meet the same fate as last family of the murderous stepfather.

Now on Blu-ray, this movie looks and sounds better than ever. It also has a few cool extras to offer. There’s an audio commentary track with the director, moderated by Fangoria’s Michael Gingold. There is a 30 minuet behind the scenes documentary called The Stepfather Chronicles that interviews many of the cast a crew about their thoughts on the film. Sadly nether Terry O’Quinn or Jill Schoelen are in it. There are also some trailers and a still photo gallery to round things out.

Fans of thrillers should already know about this movie. If you fall into that camp then oh happy day, The Stepfather is finally available again. If you’ve never seen this movie before then you’re missing out. Do yourself a favor and pick up this movie toady. It’s great on so many levels, and not just because it has a wonderful nude scene of Jill Schoelen in it. Hey give me a break, I’ve had a crush on that woman since the 80s, so I’m allowed a little ogle and drool. If it’s any consolation, the lady Lost fans out there can get a peak of “John’s Little Locke.” I guess that’s worth something. Whatever, I really like this movie and I’m sure you will too, so go get it already.

About Brian M. Sammons

Brian M. Sammons has penned stories that have appeared in the anthologies: Arkham Tales, Horrors Beyond, Monstrous, Dead but Dreaming 2, Horror for the Holidays, Deepest, Darkest Eden and others. He has edited the books; Cthulhu Unbound 3, Undead & Unbound, Eldritch Chrome, Edge of Sundown, Steampunk Cthulhu, Dark Rites of Cthulhu, Atomic Age Cthulhu, World War Cthulhu and Flesh Like Smoke. He is also the managing editor of Dark Regions Press’ Weird Fiction line. For more about this guy that neighbors describe as “such a nice, quiet man” you can check out his infrequently updated webpage here: and follow him on Twitter @BrianMSammons.

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