Stepfather (1987)

I couldn’t think of a movie to watch for Father’s Day and then I remembered this, the kind of movie that puts the fear of God into kids who are in blended families.

Henry Morrison (Terry O’Quinn, TV’s LostSilver Bullet) is introduced to us as he washes away the blood from killing his family, changes his appearance and leaves them — and his past life — behind. He throws all of the objects of his past life into the ocean and disappears for a year, resurfacing as a real estate agent named Jerry Blake.

Now, he has a new wife, Susan Maine (Shelley Hack from TV’s Charlie’s Angels) and a rough relationship with his sixteen-year-old stepdaughter, Stephanie (Jill Schoelen from Popcorn). His biggest worry, though, is Jim Ogilvie, a wannabe detective and his former brother-in-law.

As Henry/Jerry discovers an article from the newspaper about the death of his old family, he flips out at a neighborhood barbecue and flips out in his workshop. Unbeknownst to our hero, such as he is, his stepdaughter is listening to the entire episode.

She goes to her therapist, Dr. Bondurant, who tries to get Henry/Jerry to talk about the past. It doesn’t go too well, to say the least, and the doctor is murdered. That death ends up bonding stepfather and stepdaughter, believe it or not. That is — until he catches her making out with her boyfriend Paul.

The stepfather deals with things the only way he knows how. He starts setting up another identity and gets ready to kill this family. This leads to him starting to confuse his many identities and smashing his new wife in the face with a telephone.

Somehow, despite being shot twice and stabbed in the heart, Henry/Jerry survives and returns for not one, but to sequels. Spoiler warning: At least one of those will be up on this site later on today.

Loosely based on the life of John List, this movie rises above simple slasher to cult classic based upon the acting skills of O’Quinn, who can go from tender and nice to pure mania in the very same line of dialogue. Can anyone make working on birdhouses seem so evil?  I mean, all he’s trying to do is find the perfect American family!

Shout! Factory has recently released this one on blu-ray and it’d make a fine Father’s Day gift. That is, if your dad likes horror and you guys have a great relationship.

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