Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Stepfather 2: Make Room For Daddy

That nutty stepfather is at it again! He breaks out of the mental institution, sets up a new identity for himself, and once again worms his way into the life of a single mother in an effort to create his utopic vision of the perfect family. In a fun twist, this time he poses as a marriage counselor and nobody notices how warped and silly his antiquated, 1950's values and meaningless platitudes are.

In preparation for The Stepfather remake, I thought I'd go back and re-watch the original, which is something of a minor classic. I couldn't find it at the video store, unfortunately, so I figured I might as well watch the sequel, which I only vaguely remembered. Anyways, it turns out that the remake is PG-13 and was made by the same assholes who did the execrable remake of Prom Night, so I'm pretty sure I'm not going to bother with it now.

It wasn't all a loss though, as it inadvertently turned my Wednesday night into an "Unnecessary Sequels That Don't Live Up to the Original, Yet Conversely Are Better Than They Should Be" double feature with Halloween II.

Stepfather 2 loses a lot of the great social satire/commentary of the original in favor of becoming a more standard slasher-y movie, but it's done with some skill. The crucial element is of course Terry O'Quinn's performance as the stepfather. His work is still strong, and the filmmakers have fun with his character even if he's lost some of the nuance this go-round. (Also, I think it was a mistake to try to explain or reconcile some of his contradictions, when those are what made him fascinating in the first film.) I especially like his queasiness about sex; late in the film, when his diabolical plan is exposed, he complains that his fiancee made him sleep with her, as if it was some sort of burden. How can you be mad at him for all the murder and manipulation when he's been working so hard to make you happy? He even had premarital sex with you, you ingrate!

It's got one of those classic exploitative 80's horror movie endings where the killer is killed by a little kid. It probably would have sent Roger Ebert into convulsions if he ever saw it. The kid is played by a very young Jonathan Brandis, a child actor I remember from Sidekicks with Chuck Norris and Ladybugs with Rodney Dangerfield. It's always weird when I see him in an old movie every now and again, because after 5 or 10 minutes I remember that he killed himself like 5 or 6 years ago.

Whoops, sorry to end this post on a downer.

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