‘Stepfather II,’ also known as ‘Stepfather II: Make Room for Daddy,’ is a psychological horror film directed by Jeff Burr. It was released in 1989 and was plagued by studio interference.
After the incidents of the first film, Jerry Blake (Terry O’Quinn) is institutionalized, but murders his psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Danvers (Henry Brown) and takes a new identity as psychiatrist Dr. Gene F. Clifford in Los Angeles. He starts a practice and begins a relationship with his divorced real estate agent Carol Grayland (Meg Foster), winning over her son Todd (Jonathan Brandis). Gene murders her ex-husband Phil (Mitchell Laurance) and her best friend Matty (Caroline Williams) to get closer to Carol and soon his clutches surround her.
Originally, Burr wanted the sequel to resemble its predecessor with themes of fears. However, ITC Entertainment studio executive Harvey Weinstein interfered insisted on ramping up the blood and gore. When Burr refused, they brought in Season of Fear director Doug Campbell to chop up the film. This was a mistake as it devalued the story.
Developing its story around the fear of having a stranger right beside you similar to the first film, but this one focuses too much on the blood and gore. It keeps ramping up the violence instead of focusing on the story. At times, it felt the plot was trying to make you empathize with Blake only to shock you with another gory sequence.
Terry O’Quinn and Meg Foster are both good actors, but they were hampered by the story. This did not hinder their performances necessarily, but they were given such bad writing at times it was hard to keep up with them. Henry Brown was, of course, brilliant, though I wished his role had been larger.
As for the scares, it does not deliver as it should. The first one played off genuine fears that everyday folks may have while this one just tries to shock you with its violence, blood, and gore. It came off as incredibly cheap.
I will say, it was nice to see the late Jonathan Brandis in a role. He was a good actor and seeing him perform as a child actor was a nostalgic walk down memory lane. Even at a young age, he still had a ton of on-screen charisma and talent.
Bottom line, Stepfather II: Make Room for Daddy is a failure and disappointment compared to its predecessor. I would like to have seen the original version Jeff Burr directed and compared it. Perhaps we could get a “release the Burr cut” hashtag since that is all of the rage these days.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Bloody violence, Sexual content, Foul language
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Check out the trailer below:
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