The original Stepfather is in many ways a mini-masterpiece of 80's horror. As a voracious horror fan in the early 90's I rented anything from the nearest horror section that especially if I had yet to see it. The Stepfather came totally out of left field back then, and surprised me with it's story of suburban madness anchored by the great Terry O'Quinn.
I had known since around the time I saw the original, that there was a few sequels made. This didn't come as a surprise, everything had a sequel. Hell, Witchcraft had 12 sequels, and those films were horrible. None of the video stores in the area carried Stepfather 2, some of them carried 3, but I hate going into things out of order so I skipped it. And so when Synapse released their special edition of Stepfather 2 I knew I had to check it out.
Stepfather 2 follows the formula of the first one very closely. Terry O'Quinn plays Jerry Blake “The Stepfather,” who has been locked away in a mental asylum after the events of the first film. A new psychiatrist comes to the hospital, and takes a very liberal approach to Jerry's treatment, needless to say this shrink was a little too trusting, and ends up paying for it.
Of course Jerry isn't going to stick around the mental hospital, he escapes, and settles down in a small town in California where he assumes the name Dr. Gene Clifford, and works as a counselor to the neighborhood women. He falls in love with divorcee Carol Grayland (Meg Foster, They Live), and her son Todd (Jonathan Brandis, Sidekicks), and attempts to integrate himself into their lives. He is successful at first, until Carol's ex-husband Phil comes back into the picture, and is looking to reconcile their marriage. Thus Jerry/Gene begins to unravel, and his murderous impulses can no longer be restrained.
As I stated earlier, I believe the original Stepfather to be a mini-masterpiece of 80's horror cinema. So the sequel had a lot to live up to. Unfortunately, it is not quite as successful as the first. On the featurette included on the disc, a producer on the film, chalks this up to the element of surprise being taken away. You have seen the Stepfather in action, you know his m.o., so whatever happens in the second film is not going to be as shocking as the first, and in a sense he is sort of write. The Stepfather 2 is essentially a remake of the first film, except with another new family.
The first Stepfather felt more like a psychological horror. While the Stepfather 2 feels like Friday the 13th featuring Ward Cleaver. I'm not saying that this is a bad thing, I had a lot of fun with the Stepfather 2, and could see myself watching it quite a few more times. Plus with the PG-13 remake on the way, these films could use the re-release just to watch Terry O'Quinn in action. While this film in certain ways feels like just another 80's horror sequel. The performance of Terry O' Quinn as Gene/Jerry elevates the film above the typical slasher of the era.
Synapse has presented Stepfather 2 in a 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The film looks great, the transfer is quite clear, with the exception of some minor print damage, but this is all very minor. Synapse has done a very good job restoring this film.
Stepfather 2 is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound track. The dialogue is clear and audible, and there does not appear to be much hissing, pops, or grain on the track.
Synapse has included an audio commentary with director Jeff Burr(Leatherface: TCM3, Eddie Presley) and producer Darin Scott. They have also put together a featureette called Daddy's New Home that goes into all aspects of the making of the Stepfather 2 and is quite interesting. Although, it does suffer from a severe lack of Terry O'Quinn. The disc is rounded out by a series of deleted scenes, a still gallery, and the theatrical trailers for the film.
While not quite as good as the original Stepfather, the Stepfather 2, is an enjoyable piece of 80's slasher mayhem. It is elevated by an excellent performance by Terry O'Quinn. Synapse has done an excellent job putting together this special edition just in time for the 2009 remake. The A/V quality is good, and the extras interesting. If you are a fan of the Stepfather this release is definitely worth checking out.