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The Stepfather (1987)

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After murdering his entire family, a man remarries a widow with a teenage daughter in another town and prepares to do it all over again.



(story), (story) | 2 more credits »
2 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Charles Lanyer ...
Dr. Bondurant
Jim Ogilvie
Stephen E. Miller ...
Al Brennan
Robyn Stevan ...
Paul Baker
Lindsay Bourne ...
Art Teacher
Mrs. Leitner
Gillian Barber ...
Annie Barnes
Lt. Jack Wall
Jackson Davies ...
Mr. Chesterton
Sandra Head ...
Dorothy Rinehard


A family-values man named Jerry Blake marries widows and divorcées with children in search of the perfect family. As soon as his new family members show signs of being human and not robots who will march unquestioningly to his tune, his dreams of domestic bliss begin to crumble, and he kills them. Then he alters his appearance, assumes a new identity, and skips to another town to begin the deadly ritual all over again. He marries Susan Maine, who sees him as the ideal surrogate father for her teenage daughter Stephanie, and he is soon up to his old tricks when she proves to be too much of a troublesome teen to handle. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He's a family man with an ax to grind...and wield! See more »


Crime | Horror | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| |


Release Date:

5 June 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Stepfather I  »

Box Office


$2,488,740 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Cinematographer John Lindley was hired as a last minute replacement for the original director of photography who was arrested in a domestic dispute right before shooting was to start. See more »


When Jerry Blake gets the mail out of the letterbox, he finds a yellow envelope for Stephanie, he notices that it came from the Seattle Examiner. Looking worried, he opens the envelope to see his own photo in it. He starts to panic. Then Stephanie arrives home, and asks for her mail. He gives her a copy of Cosmopolitan, and goes inside the house. Later, he goes to a photo shop, and replaces his own photo with another man in a family photo. The man is smiling in the photo Jerry is about to put back in the yellow envelope. In a later scene, Stephanie and her friend Karen are in her room, with the photo of the family man photo Jerry replaced. The man in the photo is not smiling, as he was in the first photo we see of him. See more »


Jerry Blake: All we need is a little order around here.
See more »


Referenced in DVD-R Hell: Too Smart for Strangers (2011) See more »


Sleeping Beauty
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Published by Astute Lullaby Kings/Rare Blue Music, Inc. (ASCAP)
Courtesy of Chrysalis Records, Inc.
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User Reviews

Father knows best.
18 October 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The Stepfather is directed by Joseph Ruben and collectively written by Carolyn Lefcourt, Brian Garfield and Donald E. Westlake. It stars Terry O'Quinn, Jill Schoelen, Shelley Hack, Stephen Shellen and Charles Lanyer. Music is by Patrick Moraz and cinematography by John W. Lindley.

Why can't they leave me alone?

Joseph Ruben's film is firmly ensconced in the land of B horror cultdom, and rightly so. Some horror fans may be disappointed at the lack of brutal killings actually shown on screen, but looking beyond that expectation there beats the heart of a cynical picture. The American Dream shed of its bloody veneer, the film plants an ambiguous serial killer in the normalcy of the family life that he so craves, that is until his vision of Americana family life is not met and his dark half comes to the fore.

It's a cunning picture, keeping the killer's back story shaded in grey, and Ruben smartly keeps tension simmering away to keep viewers anxiously waiting for the stepfather to crack. O'Quinn is excellent as damaged dad, intense, measured and charmingly normal when required, and then not over the top when he cracks and rants. Around him he is backed by strong turns from Schoelen, Hack and Lanyer, while Ruben's direction and Lindley's colour photography bring a credible feeling to the plot.

A running sub-plot involving Shellen's grieving brother doing detective work feels a bit superfluous at times, while a nude shower scene with Schoelen is totally unnecessary. Don't get me wrong, Schoelen has a lovely body and is a very pretty girl, the actress aged 24 at the time, but she's playing a 16 year old! It just comes off as pointless titillation in a film that didn't need such tricks. Small irritants aside, The Stepfather is intelligent horror and still holding up now in this age of torture and hackville sub-genres. 7.5/10

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