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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
Loosely based on the story of John List, the New Jersey man who killed his family in 1971, and was on the run until 1989, when his profile on the television show "America's Most Wanted" resulted in his capture. See more »
Stephanie picks up the U2 cassette "Wide Awake In America" and puts it in her player. When she presses play, we hear Pat Benatar's "Run Between The Raindrops". See more »
Performed by The Divinyls (as Divinyls)
Music and Lyrics by Christina Amphlett (as C. Amphlett) and Mark McEntee (as M. McEntee)
Published by Astute Lullaby Kings/Rare Blue Music, Inc. (ASCAP)
Courtesy of Chrysalis Records, Inc. See more »
Talk about your domestic issues! Someone's been watching too many 1950's sitcoms, and woe betide anyone who doesn't fit into that image of perfection! After the death of her father one year ago, Stephanie Maine (Jill Schoelen) has been getting into a lot of trouble at school. Part of the reason she's like this is that she's creeped out by her all-too-perfect step-dad, Jerry Blake (Terry O'Quinn). Everyone, especially her mother (Shelley Hack), thinks he's the ideal family man, but Stephanie knows better.
Although there is no real humor in this film (there's a clever one liner, but it's not especially funny, nor is it meant to be), this is a satire of the "American Family Ideal." You know what I mean, a white picket fence, a mom and a dad, 2.5 kids, and a dog and a cat. No one really has this, and if they do, it's never the image that is portrayed in magazine ads. Unfortunately, no one told this to Jerry. He wants that so-called perfect family. At first, he seems like a godsend. But if that image is shaken, then he becomes the step-dad from hell.
The premise is sound, but it's the execution that's lacking. The pacing is erratic, and the set-up is non-existent. We never get a sense of who Jerry is. To be sure, we know he's a psychopath (this is, after all, a horror movie). But there's little showing of how he wants his family to be. A thriller needs this kind of thing to give us a sense of the psychopath we are dealing with.
Apart from O'Quinn, who is very good, the acting varies. Jill Schoelen has moments of believability, but others where her performance doesn't work. Likewise, Shelley Hack is never believable. And both of them are guilty of doing some really stupid things (then again, this is a horror movie). Charles Lanyer is good as Stephanie's therapist who goes above and beyond the call of duty (not in the way you'd think, though). However, Stephen Shellen is horrible as David Ogilvie, the man who's racing against time to find Jerry before he slaughters his next family.
Joseph Rueben's direction is plastic. There's nothing special about how this film looks or how the story is told. It's a point and shoot approach, and that leaves it up to the actors (specifically O'Quinn) to induce suspense. There are a few legitimate shocks in this film, but to be honest, there are better options out there.
This film may be hard to find, and there's a reason for it.
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