The Stepfather (1987)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Terry O'Quinn plays The Stepfather in this intelligent, unsettling chiller. We'd tell you O'Quinn's character name, but he has so many. You see, O'Quinn has been a stepfather many times over, romancing and marrying widowed women in several different states. After each wedding, everything is blissful -- at least, until O'Quinn's new wife and kids fail to measure up to his notions of perfection. Then he kills them en masse, and moves on to his next victims. Shelley Hack and Jill Schoelen co-star … More

Rating: R (adult situations/language, nudity, violence)
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Horror
Directed By:
Written By: Brian Garfield, Donald E. Westlake
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 9, 2010
Nelson Entertainment

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as Jerry Blake

as Stephanie

as Jim Ogilvie

as Dr. Bondurant

as Paul Baker

as Art Teacher

as Mrs. Leitner

as Anne Barnes

as Lt. Jack Wall

as Mr. Chesterton

as Receptionist

as Dorothy

as Mr. Anderson

as Mr. Anderson

as Mr. Anderson

as Mr. Stark

as Mr. Stark

as Mr. Grace

as Mrs. Fairfax

as Mr. Fairfax

as Dr. Barbara Faraden
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Critic Reviews for The Stepfather

All Critics (29) | Top Critics (7)

An engrossing suspense thriller that refreshingly doesn't cheat the audience in terms of valid clues and plot twists.

Full Review… | September 24, 2007
Top Critic

One is left longing for Hitchcock's dark, daring wit and disturbingly amoral insights.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Too often disappointingly thin.

Full Review… | August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

The styling is never less than assured, and [director] Ruben knows how to put bland, unruffled surfaces to sinister Hitchcockian uses.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

While I was watching the film, I was distracted by elements of the Idiot Plot Syndrome -- moments when only an idiot would have made such obvious mistakes.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

May be the best movie about the breakup of a family since Shoot the Moon.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Stepfather

Before he was marooned on a desolate island, Terry O'Quinn was a fiendishly vile serial killer who targeted widows and their suspicious children. The brilliance of 'The Stepfather' is the subversive nature of the screenplay insofar as the antagonists' motives are ultraconservative (his 'Father Knows Best' desire is a nuclear family with strong moral fiber who don't spout profanity and profess unflappable respect for their elders) and his victims could be construed as the immoral ones. Stephanie is a rebellious teenager who is undergoing therapy whereas Jerry is the distilled image of normalcy- a halcyon role model with a thriving real-estate career who socially invites his friends to neighborly cookouts due to his generosity. The race-against-the-clock element of Blakes' ex-brother-in-law narrowing down his location is a goosebump-inducing nail-biter. Soliloquizing to himself in the basement and violently smashing his wooden crafts like a frothing madman, the stupendous character actor O'Quinn can quickly transpose his fury for imperfections into a smiling, supportive bread-winner within seconds. When Blake switches the envelope photographs of himself for another suspect, his deviousness is incontrovertible. On the downside, the soundtrack in the slasher finale can be a tad strident but it is a minuscule sacrifice for an otherwise astute, irreverent rollercoaster that reverses the sanctity-of-family convention.

Cory Taylor
Cory Taylor

Super Reviewer


While it plays like a normal lower budget 80's thriller / horror flick the awesome Terry O'Quinn elevates the movie for me. He the perfect blend of loving husband and father mixed with psychopath. His ability to turn it off and on puts him above the rest of the cast.
The movie is also darker than I remember it being which also sets it apart from other films like it of the decade.

Jason Spencer

Super Reviewer


This is a very realistic and scary horror movie, more of a horror drama, I'd say. Plus, I heard it was based on a true story, which makes sense because it's so realistic. It's a family's worst nightmare, if you love horror movies, you should see this.

Aj V

Super Reviewer

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