Directed by Jeff Burr [Other horror films: The Offspring (1987), Stepfather II (1989), Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990), Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (1993), Puppet Master 4 (1993), Puppet Master 5 (1994), Night of the Scarecrow (1995), The Werewolf Reborn! (1998), Phantom Town (1999), Straight Into Darkness (2004), Frankenstein & the Werewolf Reborn! (2005), Devil’s Den (2006), Mil Mascaras vs. Aztec Mummy (2007), Resurrection (2010), Puppet Master: Blitzkrieg Massacre (2018)]
While not near as good as the first movie (which I have heaped praise upon, and will continue to do so), Stepfather II is still a solid film worth watching, especially if you’re a fan of the first one.
Terry O’Quinn puts in another great performance as the Stepfather, and again, while his scenes were stronger in the first movie, he does a very good job here. He just nails it, from that small scene where he’s listening to the snap-crackle-pop of the Rice Krispies to his musing about the importance of tradition (“If more people stuck with tradition, there’d probably be a lot happier people and a lot fewer divorces”).
I mentioned this in my review for the first film, but I’ll do it again – I find the character of the Stepfather so damn interesting. His old-fashioned view on the world, his desire for the perfect family, but at the same time, how easily he dispatches those who disappoint him and optimistically moves on, hoping to finally find that perfect home, family and all. His origins are hinted at a bit in this one, with him mentioning his father, but we still don’t get that much, which I’m actually fine with. He’s great as is, and O’Quinn really brings him to life. If only it weren’t for that whistling and wine…
Meg Foster is also good here, as is the guy playing her son, Jonathan Brandis, but neither one is quite as captivating as Jill Schoelen (who appeared in flashback form at the beginning, on a side-note). I didn’t notice until just now, amazingly, but Brandis played young Bill Denbrough in the It mini-series. Looking at him now, it’s not clear how I missed it, but there you go. Meg Foster is certainly solid, but again, I wasn’t quite as engaged with her character.
The only other performance to mention is Caroline Williams, who played Stretch in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. She was one of the few things I liked in that movie, and she was similarly pretty enjoyable here, though I probably would have approached the situation she found herself in somewhat differently.
Much like the first movie, the kills here aren’t great. A character getting strangled had some suspense to it, to be sure, and seeing this one guy get pummeled to death was oddly satisfying, but kills were never the strong points for these movies. Perhaps O’Quinn’s breakout of the mental institution was the best sequence, but I digress. The lack of memorable kills never really bothered me with the first film, and it doesn’t bother me now. I would say the overall story, though, isn’t quite as engaging, partially because of the characters.
Stepfather II isn’t near as good as the first movie, but then again, few movies are. This is still a surprisingly solid sequel, and despite it not being great, it’s an enjoyable watch, and if you enjoyed the first one, I can’t imagine this coming across as a big let-down.