Stepfather II

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Stepfather II
Directed by Jeff Burr
Produced by William Burr
Darin Scott
Carol Lampman
Written by John Auerbach
Starring Terry O'Quinn
Meg Foster
Caroline Williams
Jonathan Brandis
Music by Jim Manzie
Cinematography Jacek Laskus
Edited by Pasquale Buba
Distributed by Millimeter Films
Release dates
  • November 3, 1989 (1989-11-03)
Running time
93 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1.5 million

Stepfather II also known as Stepfather 2: Make Room for Daddy, is a 1989 psychological thriller film directed by Jeff Burr from a screenplay written by John Auerbach. It is the sequel to the first Stepfather (1987) and stars Terry O'Quinn as the title character, a flawed sociopath and a master of disguise who escapes a sanitarium and enters the life of a single mother with the intent of marrying her, murdering everyone who gets in his way. The cast includes Meg Foster, Caroline Williams and Jonathan Brandis.


Surviving being shot and stabbed at the end of the previous film, the stepfather has been institutionalized in Puget Sound, Washington since, spending his time building model houses in the workshop. Assigned a new doctor named Joseph Danvers, the stepfather begins confiding in him to gain his trust, ultimately murdering the doctor during a session by stabbing him in the neck with a blade smuggled out of the workshop. After killing Danvers, the stepfather beats a suspicious guard named Ralph Smith to death with his own nightstick with only two strikes and takes his uniform, successfully sneaking out of the sanitarium. After robbing and murdering a travelling salesman, the stepfather checks into a hotel, alters his appearance, takes the name Doctor Gene F. Clifford (a family psychiatrist) from the newspaper obituaries and travels to Palm Meadows, Los Angeles after seeing an ad for it on an episode of Dream House.

Arriving in Palm Meadows, Gene meets Carol Grayland (who coincidentally held a real estate job position that used to be Gene's when he was still Jerry Blake) and leases a house just across the street from her and her son Todd. During a session with the wives of the neighborhood, Gene learns Carol's dentist husband, Philip, had absconded with his mistress the previous year. Gene begins courting Carol, eventually winning over her and Todd. Gene's plan to marry Carol is soon complicated when Phil returns, wanting to reconcile with his wife. Needing Phil out of the way, Gene persuades Carol to send Phil over for a meeting, during which Gene kills him with a broken bottle, covering up Phil's disappearance afterwards by making it look as though he simply ran off again. With Phil gone, Gene and Carol arrange to get married.

Local mail carrier Madeline "Matty" Crimmins (who is a friend of Carol's) begins looking through Gene's mail, finding a letter addressed to the real Gene Clifford (which includes a photograph revealing him to be African American). Confronted by Matty (who wants to know who he really is) in the park, Gene persuades her to let him tell Carol the truth about his past, though this turns out to be a lie. Later that night, Gene strangles Matty to death, making her death resemble a suicide by hanging. On his way out Gene takes Matty's last bottle of wine and crosses through the yard of Matty's blind neighbor Sam Watkins, who hears Gene whistling "Camptown Races," which he mentions to Carol the next day.

Despite Matty's death, at Gene's insistence, the wedding proceeds as planned. While dressing in the church, Carol recognizes bottles of wine sent by Matty's parents as the same brand Gene had the other night, and overhears Todd whistling "Camptown Races", which he says Gene taught him. Thinking Gene may have had something to do with Matty's death, Carol confronts him, prompting Gene to attack Carol and Todd, the latter of whom he locks in a storage closet. As Gene prepares to kill Carol in the reception area, Todd breaks out of the closet and saves his mother, stabbing Gene in the chest with a claw hammer, seemingly killing him.



After a test screening of the film, studio executives Harvey and Bob Weinstein complained about the lack of blood and demanded re-shoots. Jeff Burr refused and another director was hired to do the reshoots. In an interview, Burr commented, "they cut a little bit of [the film] out and they added some badly done blood effects. Badly done, because Terry O’Quinn refused to do it. Really, they were meaningless, so that was irritating."[1]


Stepfather II was originally intended to be released direct to video; however, the producers were impressed enough with the sequel that it was released into theaters. The film was given a limited release theatrically in the United States by Millimeter Films in November 1989.[2] It grossed $1,519,796 domestically at the box office.[3]


The film received mostly negative reviews. Variety stated "this dull sequel reduces the intriguing premise of the original Stepfather to the level of an inconsequential, tongue-in-cheek slasher film".[4] Richard Harrington of The Washington Post wrote that the film was cliche-ridden and lacked the reality-rooted horror that made the original film effective, finishing his review by stating "Stepfather 2 is just slick marketing trying to capitalize on unsettling art - and failing badly, at that".[5]

Home video[edit]

After the film's theatrical release, it was released on VHS by HBO Video in the United States and in Canada around the same time by Cineplex Odeon. In 2003, the film was released on DVD by Miramax Films and the same year in Canada by Alliance Atlantis; it included audio commentary with director Jeff Burr and producer Darin Scott. In 2009, to coincide with the release of the Screen Gems remake of the original Stepfather, Synapse Films re-released Stepfather II on DVD with special features including the ones available on the Miramax and Alliance Atlantis releases, as well as new features such as a making-of documentary. [6] [7]


  1. ^ ICONS Interview with Director Jeff Burr
  2. ^ "Company Credits for Stepfather II". Retrieved 2011-04-10. 
  3. ^ "Stepfather II". Retrieved 2011-04-10. 
  4. ^ "Stepfather II". Variety. 1989-01-01. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  5. ^ "Stepfather II (R)". The Washington Post. 1989-12-06. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  6. ^ "Synapse's Stepfather 2 DVD, Sick Girl art, etc.". Fangoria. Retrieved 2009-04-29. 
  7. ^ "Synapse Announces 'Stepfather II' DVD". Bloody-Disgusting. Retrieved 2009-06-09. 

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