Halloween Scene: The Stepfather (1987)

Let’s be honest, the main reason I wanted to watch The Stepfather is because it stars Terry O’Quinn, you know Locke from Lost. It was fun watching him while we were going through Alias and of course his role in Silver Bullet. And, man, does he absolutely murder this role. He’s cold, set apart, but can also flip the smile and loving glow on when he needs to. Assume there’s SPOILERS ahead. I love how the movie opens with him intricately cleaning himself and changing his appearance while covered in blood. He gets dressed up and then calmly walks through his corpse-filled house all dressed for work. Man, that’s a hell of an opening. So, right away you know this guy is a killer and you’re sort of on edge the entire time because you never know when he’s going to snap and kill again. And that tension lies squarely on O’Quinn’s shoulders and I think he does a great job. He actually does such a great job that I found myself feeling a little drawn in by his niceness. After the opening transformation, O’Quinn already has another family and job set up so he can easily jump right in with that life. The problem is that his daughter-in-law played by Jill Schoelen (who was also in Popcorn!) doesn’t like him and keeps getting in trouble at school. I thought she was fantastic in this, but don’t really remember her in Popcorn.

As the film moves on and word of the first set of murders gets out, she starts getting suspicious. Meanwhile, the brother of the first dead wife is also on the hunt. So, you’ve got a race for who’s going to discover his true identity first and whether it will be before or after he kills his new family. The pacing is pretty great and, even though there aren’t a ton of kills, the suspense is always there with plenty of emotional highs and lows through it. And the final sequences after he snaps and is after his wife and daughter-in-law are great. You’re not really sure what’s going to happen, the guy searching for O’Quinn finally shows up only to get stabbed int he chest, there’s lots of other stabbing and shooting. It’s great.

The movie’s not all good though. I was very weirded out by the fact that, after making it very clear to the audience that Schoelen’s character is 16, they still has a scene with her getting into the shower where you can see full-on butt and the side of a boob. My math puts the actress at being 23 or 24 when it was shot, so it’s not actually weird, but knowing the character is so young and then seeing her naked was kind of disarming and took me out of things a bit. Also, the music is really weird and all over the place. I don’t usually notice things like that, but there’s a scene where the brother/investigator guy is in town, knocks on a door and realizes who O’Quinn really is. He leaps off of their porch and into his car while something that sounds like a Beverly Hills Cop cast-off plays in the background. I know it’s just a product of the time, but it was pretty strange. The music at the very end was a little strange as well, but I was pretty wrapped up in what was going on, so it didn’t bother me too much.

In the end, this is a movie I really really liked. I’ve watched a lot of supposed classics lately that left me feeling pretty bored like Terror Train and Black Christmas, so it was nice to see one that I dug. I also recommend checking out the mini documentary on the DVD in the bonus features, it’s not too long and full of interesting facts about filming and getting the movie together. I good rental all around!

They Can’t All Be Winners

2009-02-25
2:06:36 am

I haven’t been having a ton of luck lately when it comes to watching movies. Aside from falling asleep about a half hour in exactly no matter how cool the movie, I’ve been picking some duds (though still a few good ones). I couldn’t even get into watching Repo: The Genetic Opera for some reason. I’m not going to pass judgment on that one now because I was really tired, but I wanted to keep our Netflix queue going so I sent it back.

I did not however like an action movie I tried watching last night called Kiltro (2006). I made it about a half hour into that one before I fell asleep. I was hoping for an awesome action movie (as advertised), but instead I got a story about a guy who likes to fight and has a crush on a girl who blah blah blah. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I want my action movies (and my giant monster movies for that matter) to be less talking and more destruction, unless they happen to be actually funny like Police Story 1 and 2. Again, I don’t really consider this a review, because I didn’t watch the whole movie, just letting you action fans out there know not to waste your time.

I also watched most of a movie called Hickey and Boggs (1972) which has a lot going for it in that The Warriors writer Walter Hill wrote it and Bill Cosby stars as a tough guy private detective along with Robert Culp who also directs. I didn’t have any problem with this movie, though it is a bit slow, I just haven’t finished it yet because it’s kind of long and it expires from Netflix on March 1. It’s in the same vein as Dirty Harry and is pretty cool, so I might finish it up today. Oh, and if you were wondering, yes it’s kind of weird seeing Bill Cosby as a tough guy, but he also pulls it off really well. It’s fun to watch. Again, not a real review, but just some thoughts.

That being said, I do have four ACTUAL reviews:

POPCORN (1991)

Man, the 90s were a weird time for horror movies. You’re looking at a time after the slasher glut greatly hindered the genre, but before Scream made them cool again. Popcorn is kind of a weird movie. The basic premise is that a college film club decides to hold a movie marathon to raise some money. But this isn’t any movie marathon, they’re showing movies with a gimmick like smell-o-vision or shock-o-rama. As such, they need an old movie theater to show their flicks in and a crazy old guy to help out (and then completely disappear) in the form of Ray Walston (My Favorite Martian). If you really liked the beginning of Scream 2 where there’s all kinds of craziness happening in a movie theater, then this is right up your alley as it seems as though a counterculture guy from back in the day wants his weirdo movie to be seen so much he’s willing to kill people for it (that’s not exactly the plot, but I don’t want to give too much away). There was enough quirky charm to keep me watching even though the movie isn’t awesome by any means. So, if that sounds interesting (oh and the fact that someone gets killed via giant fake mosquito), check it out.

THE ROCKER (2008)

I was really surprised with how much I liked this Rainn Wilson flick. I was also surprised with the huge number of cast members I not only recognized, but knew by name (for the most part). Wilson stars as a drummer who got kicked out of what became the biggest band of the 80s right before they blew up. Now, in modern times, Rainn’s down on his luck, but ends up joining his nephew’s band, which garners its own huge levels of success. Aside from the cast that includes Christina Applegate, Emma Stone, Jeff Garland, Jane Lynch (from 40 Year Old Virgin and a hundred other things), Jason Sudekis, Will Arnett, Fred Armisen, Jane Krakowski, Bradley Cooper, Lonny Ross (30 Rock), Demetri Martin and Aziz Ansari, I was really impressed with how well they pull off some moments that could have come off as cheesy. There’s also one part where Rainn offers up the emo lead singer some songwriting advice (paraphrase “let’s speed it up and switch it to I’m NOT bitter) and he actually takes it without flinching. Sure it’s kind of similar to a scene in That Thing You Do, but in this case the lead singer just decided to go for it instead of being a d-bag. The Rocker is one of those flicks that seems like it either went up against some huge other movie or their producers didn’t have the juice to put much/any advertising cash behind it, because there’s no reason that this shouldn’t have done way better (though I said the same thing after seeing Speed Racer, which I still really enjoyed, so what do I know).

I also watched a couple movies all the way through that I wasn’t really into and those were Bangkok Dangerous (2008) and The Crazies (1973). I’ll be honest, the only reason I wanted to watch BD is because I’ve laughed a million times at the Best of The Wicker Man video on YouTube starring BD’s Nic Cage. Man that’s a funny video. You can get to it here after reading an AWESOME article I wrote about horror movie remakes for ToyFare. Unfortunately, BD was no where near as ridiculous as I was hoping it would be (I mean, COME ON, it’s Nic Cage as an assassin!). Instead, it’s a pretty run-of-the mill story about an assassin who has all kinds of rules, but is starting to not want to be an assassin anymore. You’ve seen it a million times and this doesn’t really offer up anything new, unlike Grosse Pointe Blank which is completely awesome.

The Crazies (1973) is the first non-zombie George Romero movie I’ve ever seen. It was okay, but not all that interesting. Instead of focusing on characters and how they react to these crazy situations, it seemed like Romero was more focused on showing a lot of dudes in white hazmat-type suits rounding people up after a virus that makes people go bat-poop nutso, gets released in a small town. There’s nothing all that wrong, really, it just didn’t grab my attention like my favorite Romero (and horror) flick Dawn of the Dead does.