325) The Stepfather (1987) Dir: Joseph Ruben Date Released: January 1987 Date Seen: October 5, 2009 Rating: 2/5
With a screenplay by pulp maven Donald Westlake, the original The Stepfather, soon to be remade for reasons I'm sure don't exist, is the kind of film academics like to spotcheck in their lists of tell-tale films of the period. Westlake announces the film's anti-Reagan-era mentality in almost every scene through pedantic dialogue and glaringly obvious symbolism (after the killing stroke is delivered to the titular monster by a mirror shard to the heart, his step-daughter Stephanie triumphantly destroys the birdhouse he spent all film erecting). Thank goodness for Brian Yuzna's deliriously funny and effectively alienating Society (1989), which would shortly therafter take the piss out of poe-faced slasher critiques like The Stepfather with an orgy scene to end them all. Part of me admires the fact that genre films like the latter were being used to take a stand on the preposterous moralizing that has come to represent the status quo of the period. Another part realizes that that they've never stopped and that eventually, people will recognize films like Alex Proyas' Knowing or any of Robby Henson's Christian horror films as the zeitgeist according to equally shrill doomsayers. I know I'm looking forward to writing about them in an academic journal some day.