Stepfather II – UK | USA, 1989

‘Tonight – daddy’s coming home to slice up more than just the cake!’

Stepfather II – aka Stepfather II: Make Room for Daddy – is a 1989 British-American horror feature film directed by Jeff Burr (Puppet Master 4; Pumpkinhead II; Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3; et al) from a screenplay written by John Auerbach. It is the sequel to The Stepfather (1987) and stars Terry O’Quinn as the title character. The Millimeter Films production includes Meg Foster, Caroline Williams and Jonathan Brandis.

Stepfather III followed in 1992.

Plot:

After cheating death by surviving being both stabbed and shot, psychotic killer Jerry (Terry O’Quinn) is in Puget Sound Psychiatric Hospital, Washington. However, he soon murders his doctor and escapes.

Taking on a dead man’s identity, he moves to an upscale neighbourhood in Los Angeles and sets his sights on local woman Carol (Meg Foster), slowly winning her heart. Carol’s son, Todd (Jonathan Brandis), grows suspicious of his mom’s new lover, however, and tensions reach the boiling point at the couple’s wedding…

Reviews:

Stepfather II isn’t a very good.  It isn’t very scary, and it rather generic.  The camp aspect of the movie makes it watchable, but don’t head into it expecting a great thriller or many thrills.” JP Roscoe, Basement Rejects

“Terry O’Quinn is still terrific and a joy to watch, but the film’s broader sense of humor does tend to bring the tension down several notches, making the production feel like a campy retelling of the original. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just not as effective or as enjoyable.” Jason McElreath, DVD Drive-In

“O’ Quinn is really good as the apparently loving, if a little traditional, stepfather with a good dose of barely contained murderous rage […] There are a few cheesy one-liners creeping in here but it has the same made-for-TV feel as the original which is part of the charm.” Eat Horror

“This is a likable movie, driven by Terry O’Quinn’s fab performance as the crazed would-be patriarch. He’s particularly fab during his flip-out scenes – he sure can channel some rage. S2 is darkly comic, at times, without descending into the obviousness of, say, Scream.” Final Girl

” …director Jeff Burr brings some nice dark/dry humor to the proceedings. Gene stopping to listen to the “snap, crackle, and pop” of his Rice Krispies (actually “Crispy Rice”) is brilliant, and the sequence where he watches the introduction tapes for a video dating service (do those still exist?) tops any of the humorous scenes even in the original…” Brian Collins, Horror Movie a Day

” …the tension between characters doesn’t get to sit for nearly long enough, so the wire never feels taut. The film also might have benefited from less humor, though I appreciated the entertainment value that added in the grand scheme of things.” Gordon Maples, Misan[trople]y

” …plays up all the black comedy one-liners that were requisite for any mass killer anti-hero in a sequel franchise during the late 80s, with Terry O’Quinn spouting one-liners like “It’s time we cracked this bottle open” or “We’re just wrapping things up” (as he rolls a dead body in a carpet). The only worthwhile thing about Stepfather II is the excellent repeat performance from Terry O’Quinn.” Richard Scheib, Moria

“The movie is nearly sunk by a weak opening sequence set in a mental hospital. Though it picks up once Mr. O’Quinn arrives in southern California, where he impersonates a psychiatrist, it ends abruptly. And the modern little town he infiltrates also lacks the mythic all-American tranquillity of the first film’s shady, tree-lined avenues.” Stephen Holden, The New York Times

” …the sporadic inclusion of admittedly engaging kill sequences – coupled with O’Quinn’s charismatic work – ensuring that the almost unreasonably thin storyline doesn’t become entirely problematic until about the one-hour mark.” David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews

” …this dull sequel reduces the intriguing premise of the original Stepfather to the level of an inconsequential, tongue-in-cheek slasher film” Variety

“The original Stepfather was a complex thriller about a man whose quest for perfection led him to murder one family and marry into another; it compellingly wove threads together until an unsettling tapestry emerged. Stepfather 2 is just slick marketing trying to capitalize on unsettling art — and failing badly, at that.” The Washington Post

Choice dialogue:

Gene Clifford: “I must look like Frankenstein to you.”

Gene Clifford: “Haven’t I said that I love you? Haven’t I been like a father to that boy? I even had sex with you, for God’s sake! You will never find a better family man than me, pumpkin. Not in this lifetime. Not now, not just ever.”

Gene Clifford: “You wouldn’t hit me again, would you Slugger?”

Cast and characters:

  • Terry O’Quinn … Jerry Blake / Gene Clifford / The Stepfather
  • Meg Foster … Carol Grayland
  • Caroline Williams … Matty Crimmins
  • Jonathan Brandis … Todd Grayland
  • Henry Brown … Dr. Joseph Danvers
  • Mitchell Laurance … Phil Grayland
  • Miriam Byrd-Nethery … Sally Jenkins
  • Leon Martell … Walt ‘Smitty’ Smith
  • Renata Scott … Betty Willis
  • John O’Leary … Sam Watkins
  • Glen Adams … Salesman
  • Eric Brown … Hotel Attendant
  • Bob Gray … Choir Singer (uncredited)
  • Rosemary Welden … Video Date (uncredited)

Technical credits:

93 minutes | 1.85: 1 | mono

Production:

In an interview with Icons of Fright, Burr recounted the reaction to his initial cut of the movie: “The Weinsteins] were just livid, because they were expecting something with mucho blood! They were expecting a totally different movie. I remember they were out in the lobby [after the test screening] like these two big school yard bullies saying “What the f*ck? Where’s the blood?”

Although the Weinstein’s wanted more blood Jeff Burr declined, so they hired Doug Campbell to reshoot three scenes to add more gore.

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