The Stepfather (1987)

Directed by: Joseph Rubin

Written by: Donald E. Westlake

Story by:
Carolyn Lefcourt, Brian Garfield & Donald E. Westlake


Terry O'Quinn .... Jerry Blake
Jill Schoelen .... Stephanie Maine
Shelley Hack .... Susan Maine
Charles Lanier .... Dr. Bondurant
Stephen Shellen .... Jim Ogilvie

Release Dates: Theatrical: January 23, 1987; Fantasporto Film Festival: February, 1990

*Images courtesy at:





A serial killer Jerry Blake (Terry O'Quinn) has slayed a widowed family that he wasn't satisfied with and then moves away overseas to another area and disguises himself to be another person getting a job as a real estate agent.
While residing there, he becomes engaged to another widow Susan Maine (Shelley Hack) along with her daughter Stephanie (Jill Schoelen) who has a hard time adjusting to him since her father has died.
She talk to her counsellor Dr. Bondurant (Charles Lanier) on what to do about these situations as she's frusterated with life. She even rebels with her classmates in school getting herself kicked out and almost being forced to go to a boarding school in which Jerry disapproves in which he thinks that a family should stick together.
Also during a real estate party he notices a paper discussing about the family slaying and goes down to his basement where he works with his carpentry supplies going crazy and screaming out loud in which Stephanie catches him in the act and tries to find out if he was responsible for slaying the family due to his temperamental behavior.
Eventually Jerry reacts more strangely to Stephanie's lifestyle and is dissatified with this family in which he may have some deadly plans up his sleeve for the two of them.
A detective Jim Ogilvie (Stephen Shellen) tries to track Jerry down before it's too late since he is trying to travel all over the area asking residents about him living in the area.


The film turns off with a terrific horror start in which this maniac known as Jerry Blake cleans himself up after killing his stepfamily which is quite cringing but at least there's nothing shown on him doing all of this in which people who are just starting out to watch horror films can be entertained by watching this. Also it's neat that he disguises himself and changing his name in order to hide his identity which is even spookier making you wonder how long he can pursue doing this and living with his guilt for what he did to the former family he was unsatisfied with.
Then a year passes in which he's engaged to a woman named Susan along with his stepdaughter Stephanie in which he seems like an innocent charming fellow who wouldn't harm anyone which can boggle you thinking if he will remain sane after what he's done. But you keep watching and you see he has some anger issues when he's alone which is really psychological to anyone who has a quick temper and needs to let out some steam when they're alone. You think to yourself... Can I go that crazy???
He shows a great rage in his workshop in the basement which is the most effective due to the writing and everything else bringing out the true horror to this maniac making you think to yourself if he will get to the point that he will kill again???
There's also scene's with Stephanie talking to her counsellor Dr. Bondurant which looks very uplifting as if he's a family member helping her out that there's a perfect realtionship between the two of them as some counsellors can come across as too serious and almost intimidating. I found these moments nicely written in.
There's a moment when Bondurant tries to fake a person interested in buying a house in order to try and talk to Jerry about the situations that Stephanie is having problems with him in which this moment is pretty chilling. You do think to yourself that he is looking for his death bed while the story still starts to run and Jerry gets suspicious which definetely leaves a chilld down your spine when he gets serious with him to the point that he is about to do something and then it does which makes this moment hard to watch for sure.
Yet there's moments when Jerry lies to Stephanie about what had happened to her poor counsellor which makes them close like he always wanted. You think to yourself what is going to happen next as he seemed to get what he wanted by behaving like a bloodthristy monster? Well it sure does as Stephanie kisses her boyfriend and he catches them thinking he was trying to rape her which is normal for an maniac to make judgements likes that.
Then later on he quits his job and plans to find a new place to stay and changing his identity before doing his next deeds and this brings up the terror big time that he's not happy with this family at all which really becomes very exciting as well as a detective trying to hunt him down and hoping to save the day too.
The ending is great as you just get even more excited to watch the sequel wondering what happnes next. No matter how many times the killer dies he always comes back alive and killing!!!!
Bottom line is this film seems slow in some spots but it really picks up with the suspense and intensity big time as well as having great performances which makes this a good movie and almost makes it grab fans who enjoy flicks like Psycho. Worth chacking out for anyone who likes bizarre type of films with a killer hiding his deadly secrets to impress innocent people to bring him into their life.

The acting is terrifically well done in which lead actor Terry O'Quinn (Jerry Blake) really knew his stuff on playing a maniac as he has the looks of one with his thinnish features plus he really knew on how to act deceivingly nice and mellow really fooling you that he's a normal everyday guy. Then it's great when he snaps acting insane and obnoxious in which he came across as truly intimidating. He shows a terrific versatality with his role making his role truly psychological. A good moment with him pushing someone which looked nicely done as well as a good disturbed expression on his face when he confuses his story about his daughter which looked creepy. A good disturbed reaction on him replying to the others about all of this which looked spooky like after reading the paper on the murder case. Effective performance on him down in the basement with his working tools slamming them around and going in a screaming rage which looked believeably intense and then a nice change when he spots someone and changing into his mellow mood again in which he does wonderfully and very horror like offering a perfect versatality. A great shocked expression on his face after what he spots that was in the mail. Was believeably deadly with his blocking motions while smacking someone with a board offering perfect intensity. Does great by screaming in a rage towards someone after spotting a couple kissing in his front house as he shows off a perfect psychotic attitude. A good moment with him picking up a phone and then slamming it at his fellow actress' face which looked believeably brutal. Plus some great moments on him being brutal towards her and throwing her down some stairs.
Jill Schoelen
(Stephanie Maine) has a nice typical teenage attitude with a good hearted behavior as well as really showing some good emotions with what she does along with her sensitive behavior too. She brings on a nice charming attitude too which was a great plus so she brought everything together nicely. Shows off a natural job when nervously approaching someone after seeing their rage down in a basement area.
Shelley Hack
(Susan) plays a good sympathetic mother with a nice attitude bringing a good heartwarming behavior around her. She certainly came across perfectly by portraying this part in the film. She does it so well that you wouldn't want anything bad to happen to her.
A perfect demanding and nervousness moment trying to get some answers towards someone else.
Charles Lanier
(Dr. Bondurant) really brought on a terrific understanding attitude as a counsellor. He really came across as a likeable type that everyone would like to have who are having problems with their life and him listening and really being non pressuring. I liked his part alot in the film as he made his part come to life big time. Showed great painful reactions after being smacked with a board.
Stephen Shellen
(Jim Ogilvie) certainly showed the most energy as a tough detective in the flick. He really brought out his anxiety and aggressions for most of the scene's in this film which is great. He came across as some character that you'd see in Miami Vice or somewhere along those lines. He was quite powerful in what he did.
A great rage when he is grabbing onto his fellow actor and getting aggressive with him. A great moment with him acting panicky towards someone else and getting forceful towards him accussing him as well as him getting tough asking him a question which looked highly energised. A great moment with him acting cautious by entering a house.

Terry O'Quinn has his butt revealed while walking into a shower.
Jill Schoelen
also walks into a shower with her butt reavealed and her breasts are shown while she showers.

Dr. Bondurant's head is bloodily bashed by a board
Susan's face is bloodied after a phone is whacked in her face
Jerry Blake has a knife stabbed in his chest and he is bloodied

There's some good low keyboard music as well as the odd chiming sounds for the opening credits which works incredibly well along with some heavy drum booming too in many of the scene's for the film. Plus there's some good violin plucking sounds too which works quite well all composed by Patrick Moraz.

Jerry Blake: Wait a minute, who am I here?
Sue: Jerry?
Jerry Blake: That's right. Jerry Blake. Thanks, honey.