Revenge of the Stepford Wives
|Revenge of the Stepford Wives|
|Written by||David Wiltse|
|Directed by||Robert Fuest|
|Producer(s)||Edgar J. Scherick
|Running time||95 min.|
|Distributor||Edgar J. Scherick Productions
Embassy Television (1986 Video)
|Preceded by||The Stepford Wives|
|Followed by||The Stepford Children|
Revenge of the Stepford Wives is a 1980 made-for-television sci-fi/horror film inspired by the Ira Levin novel The Stepford Wives. It was directed by Robert Fuest with a screenplay by David Wiltse. Sharon Gless, Julie Kavner, Don Johnson, Arthur Hill, and Audra Lindley starred in the film. It is the first in a series of sequels inspired by the 1971 novel and the original 1975 film.
Set 10 years after the original film, a prologue sets the scene as a couple unhappy in idyllic Stepford, Connecticut, attempts to leave town; they are killed by the police chief.
Spirited investigative TV reporter Kaye Foster (Gless) arrives in Stepford to do a story on the American town with the lowest crime and divorce rates and the tightest real-estate market in the country. She immediately notices the beautiful, but compliant and domestic women of the town, who take a pill four times a day when an eerie siren sounds (they each claim it's for a thyroid condition). Kaye meets Megan and Andy Brady (Kavner and Johnson), newcomers to town. Megan is refreshingly down to earth, and Andy is interviewing to join the police force and become a member of the Stepford Men's Association, headed by refined but vaguely hostile Dale "Diz" Coba (Hill). Kaye needs a research assistant, and after being turned off by the seemingly plastic and subservient women of Stepford, she jumps at the chance to hire Megan.
Kaye is shaken when Barbara Parkinson (Lindley) "accidentally" nearly runs her down with her car, then exhibits strange, repetitive behavior at the accident site, yet has no recollection of the incident the next day. Disillusioned hotel manager Wally (Adams) seems guiltily on the verge of divulging something important to Kaye about his wife's inability to change, when another attempt is made on Kaye's life.
Andy assumes the job with the Stepford Police and Megan has chosen a house when she is sent to the Men's Association and disappears for a few days. Suspicious, Kaye sneaks into a garden party at the Association attended by the townswomen; there, three new "sisters" are welcomed, including Megan. All three wear the frilly and outdated fashions so popular in town and exhibit the brainless behavior of the other wives. Kaye overhears Diz explaining to the husbands that the wives have been brainwashed and kept compliant by the "thyroid pills." To keep them subservient, they must not drink alcohol, miss the medication, or be overstimulated, or the women will become hostile and potentially violent. Kaye is discovered and narrowly escapes, and the men set out to track her down.
Kaye shows up at Megan's house, throws out her pills and compels her to down some vodka. At first, Megan attempts to stab Kaye and manically clean the house. Overcome, she later recovers and the two women knock out Andy. Kaye, now disguised as a Stepford wife, enlists the aide of Wally to help them escape; he betrays them, but having anticipated this, Kaye manages to elude him. However, their plan to escape by train fails, and Megan is taken to the Men's Association for reconditioning. Eventually, Kaye arrives and holds Diz at gunpoint while Megan repeatedly sounds the pill siren. All the women of the town overdose on their pills, becoming disoriented and then violent. Having second thoughts about the scheme, Andy shows up in time to reconcile and escape with Megan. Kaye is finally caught by Diz, however, and just as he is about to kill her, he is confronted by the vengeful women of the town. Screaming and clawing, they push him over a balcony, trample him, and literally tear him apart. Shocked and horrified, Kaye makes her escape.
This is the first sequel in a string of stories suggested by, but not necessarily true to the original concept of the novel. Although the feel, costumes, and even music suggest the original film, a new and different twist is written for the sequel.
Later sequels include The Stepford Children (1987) starring Barbara Eden which retained the secret of the original, but in which the men were also transforming children of Stepford. This third sequel The Stepford Husbands, revisits the concept, reversing the roles, with the women as oppressors. Louise Fletcher's role, in particular, recalls the role of "Diz", the Men's Club President. A 2004 film remade the original, but with an entirely different tone and ending.
The Executive Producer for the film is Edgar J. Scherick, who produced the first film.
One review of the film describes "Revenge" as "an average telefilm sequel [which] isn't that bad, but isn't much memorable either." Another generally rates it as mediocre, though praises the end of the film, but remarking "Despite this more satisfying ending, however, the intelligence of the audience is further insulted by the fact that the credits roll directly thereafter, leaving us with nothing to explain Coba’s methods or the fallout that would naturally occur after these events. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see the women confront their husbands following their deprogramming? Wouldn’t we like to see Kate’s [sic] triumph as she tells the story of Stepford to her tv audience?" While acknowledging the value of an ambiguous ending, "there's a difference between mystery and confusion."
Viewer comments echo these sentiments, with critics dismissing it as a formula film. On the other hand, the film was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1981 for Best Television Feature or Miniseries to writer David Wiltse.