Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Remake Comparison Project - Who Am I Here?

Cody and Priscilla honor the fathers of the world by taking in viewings of The Stepfather 1987 and 2009.


Priscilla and I like to feature movies that are relevant to the month whenever possible in our Remake Comparison articles, and since we covered the Mother's Day movies for last month's mother-celebrating holiday, it's only fair that we celebrate Father's Day by watching movies about a couple of the worst cinematic fathers ever.

In 1971, an accountant named John List found himself without a job and deeply in debt. He didn't see how life could continue on for his family without his career to provide for them all. They would surely lose their nineteen room home, he would have to file for bankruptcy, the family would have to suffer the shame of going on welfare... John List couldn't allow that to happen. He didn't tell his family he had lost his job, instead he kept leaving the house every day for the normal amount of time, but rather than going to work, he just sat at a bus station. And began to come up with a plan to "save" his family.

Apparently he never took into account all the things he could sell off to improve his situation. Perhaps he found doing anything that would show the public he was in trouble too shameful... He saw nothing ahead for his family in this world but trouble, so the deeply religious patriarch decided he needed to send them to Heaven.

On November 9, 1971, John List murdered his wife, his three teenage children, and his mother, who lived in an apartment in the home's attic. He left his mother's body in the attic, but gathered the rest of his family's bodies together in the ballroom. Lining them up beneath the $100,000 stained glass Tiffany skylight... If only he had thought to, or could bring himself to sell that skylight, the murders might never have occurred.

Again, John List was religious, so that meant he couldn't then commit the sin of killing himself. He needed to go on with his life the best he could so he could someday be reunited with his family in Heaven. But of course Earthly judgment wasn't for him, he couldn't allow himself to be arrested, either. So he disappeared. The bodies of his family members weren't discovered until a month later. John List eluded capture for eighteen years.

It was during those eighteen years that Death Wish author Brian Garfield found himself thinking about the John List case and wondering what the man was doing while he was on the run. Garfield assumed he was out there somewhere living like a normal person, probably getting married again, maybe starting another family. Garfield was so chilled by the idea that he was inspired to write a story about it called The Stepfather, a story which he fleshed out with co-writers Carolyn Lefcourt and famed, prolific author Donald E. Westlake.

Despite the fact that Garfield and Westlake were novelists, they put this story together with the intention of it being made into a movie. They shopped this movie idea around for almost ten years, until in the mid-'80s, when the horror genre was booming and producer Jay Benson saw promise in the dark thriller the writers had crafted. The project finally started coming together with Westlake taking on the screenplay duties and director Joseph Ruben signing on with the goal in mind to make sure The Stepfather would be a character based thriller rather than the slasher the concept could have easily turned into at that time.

The title role is played in the film by Terry O'Quinn, who today is famous for being John Locke on Lost, but The Stepfather was really his breakthrough role and what he was best known for up until Lost.

Terry O'Quinn tends to play characters that I hate. I hate Morrison/Blake for obvious reasons, and I could never stand John Locke, not even when you're supposed to feel bad for him. He's really good at playing tortured and yet evil characters.

The first time we see O'Quinn's character, his name is Henry Morrison and he looks like hell. Not just because of his scraggly hair and horrendous beard, but because he's covered in blood. He strips down, takes a shower, thankfully gets most of that hair off his head and face, and goes on with his day, freshly clean cut.

I have to say I saw more of him than I wanted to in the scene where he takes his clothes off to get in the shower. This is one of the many occasions where less is more.

On his way to the front door of his home, Morrison passes by a scene that is simultaneously shocking and heartbreaking, a visual out of a nightmare: the living room is a disaster area of dead bodies and blood, including the corpse of a small child clutching a teddy bear. Morrison uprights a knocked over chair, hangs up a blood-splattered phone that's off the hook, and happily makes his exit, whistling "Camptown Races".

I was 8 or 9 years old the first time I watched The Stepfather, and back then seeing the dead bodies never got to me. It wasn't until I was much older that I felt the weight of that particular scene showing the body of a dead child with the teddy bear. And it is a pretty heavy one.

It's a jarring opening sequence that firmly establishes that this man is completely out of his mind.

One year later, Henry Morrison has become Jerry Blake, and he has moved on from the murder of his previous family quite well. He has relocated to a different Seattle suburb than the one he used to live in, he has a job at American Eagle Realty, has a good amount of friends (all of whom are people he sold houses to during his year of working as a realtor), and he's happily married to a woman named Susan, the mother of a sixteen-year-old daughter named Stephanie.

Henry/Jerry isn't the only one who has moved on quickly. Susan's previous husband died only one year earlier (Jerry was not responsible). Stephanie isn't comfortable with Jerry at all, feeling like her mother getting married to him so quickly after the death of her father wasn't the right move for their grieving process.

The first time we see Susan and Stephanie interacting, playing around with leaves in the back yard, it's such a lovely atmosphere. You can see that their bond is pretty strong, which makes it even more understandable why Stephanie wasn't ready to move on from losing her dad so fast. She needed more time with just her mom, to actually go through this painful process, but instead, her mom has a whole new life, and forces her to get into it and catch up. It doesn't work.

It doesn't help the situation that Jerry is so weird. Sure, he has a facade of being the perfect family man and he clings to the sort of old time values that he saw on television sitcoms when he was growing up in the '50s, but something is off about him. Jerry's ideals of perfection are probably what drew Susan to him, it's likely a great comfort after the stress of losing her husband, she wants the care, stability and happiness Jerry would seem to offer.

One year is definitely not enough time. Jerry really worked his magic on Susan, because in a short period of time he got her to act like they'd been together for decades and that he was Stephanie's father, which is not right. Susan also clearly favors Jerry over Stephanie when she slaps her daughter for expressing her anger toward him when he made a huge deal about her kissing a boy later in the movie.

Also, I find it extremely unhealthy and inappropriate how loud Susan is when she's having sex with Jerry. Stephanie is already having a hard time accepting this new life that was thrown at her, she shouldn't have to listen to that. Talk about uncomfortable and unnecessary.

Being a teenager, Stephanie has an edgier approach to life that conflicts with what Jerry feels is proper, and she's still dealing with the death of her dad. Her emotional turmoil is manifested in trouble at school, including a fight that gets her expelled soon after we're introduced to the character.

Stephanie's a rebel now...that's her way of coping. Getting paint on the teacher's shirt was a big mistake though... a funny one.

She goes to therapy, where is really the only place she can be herself. Dr. Bondurant sympathizes and seems to really care about her. It's almost borderline inappropriate. I hope he was only trying to help her, without second intentions, but the way he makes it kind of his business to check Jerry out is a little too much, it's not part of the job, and it doesn't end up well. It's another huge blow to Stephanie, she can't seem to catch a break.

One person who hasn't moved on from the events of a year earlier is a man named Jim Ogilvie, former brother-in-law of the man he knew as Henry Morrison. Ogilvie is still on the trail of the man who killed his sister and her children, getting the newspaper to publish a follow-up article on the unsolved case, talking to a detective about it, discovering that the police believe the Morrison murders weren't the first time this killer wiped out a family, getting a gun and practicing at a firing range...

I love the fact that someone is after Jerry. Considering how serious what he did was, and that it probably wasn't the first or second time he did it, it makes sense that someone would be trying to find him.

Ogilvie knows that, much like John List, Henry Morrison was without a job for quite a while before he killed his family, but would still go out during his regular working hours and return home at the normal time. Ogilvie feels that the killer used this time to set up the new life that he escaped into, and has figured out that he must be living within a certain radius that could be traveled during daily working hours.

It's a stretch, but he's actually right.

This is something that the police should have thought of. It should've been obvious, really. Also, the newspaper should've shown Jerry's picture in the article Ogilvie gets them to publish. I don't get why they wouldn't want to.

As imperfect situations and stressful scenarios pile up, Jerry Blake's mask of sanity begins to slip, and Stephanie takes notice of things. Like the way he goes off on raging rants in his basement work shop...

His fits are very bothersome.

Or his reaction to the newspaper article about the murders. His comment that the victims must have "disappointed" their homicidal stepfather. She's on the case just as much as Ogilvie is.

Jerry's reaction to the newspaper gives away that he might have something to do with it. Maybe only a troubled teenager would think that way, desperately trying to justify the way she feels about him and get rid of him, but she was right. And I find the way that she tries to discover more about it such an endearing reminder of how different things were back then. She writes a letter, by hand, to the newspaper and gets a response by mail a few days later. In the era of easy access to any type of information, with internet,'s just nice to remember how things were. How times have changed.

Feeling the walls closing in on him, Jerry Blake begins to kill again. Of course, given the character's off-balance fantasy '50s hang-ups, what really sets him off is when his teenage stepdaughter gets a boyfriend who has the audacity to kiss her goodnight on the front stoop. This will not do. The Blake family is a lost cause. Time to start over.

With time ticking down to the moment when Jerry will finally snap and attack Susan and Stephanie, Ogilvie is set up to be the hero of the piece. Viewers will likely assume that he's going to eventually encounter his former brother-in-law and get his revenge, we're rooting for that, and the likelihood of it gets even stronger when Ogilvie figures out Jerry's current identity and, while tension rises in the Blake household, jumps in his car and starts speeding across town. It appears he's racing to the rescue.

Things don't quite work out that way.

I thought for sure he was going to save Susan and Stephanie and kill Jerry Blake.

As far as characters of his type go, Ogilvie certainly doesn't measure up to Halloween's Dr. Sam Loomis. Not since Rob Dyer in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter has there been a character who so completely whiffed their shot at avenging a loved one. In fact, the Ogilvie subplot as a whole plays very similarly to Dick Hallorann's journey to the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.

I always think of Rob Dyer when I see their confrontation. It's just as unexpected and disappointing.

The actor in the role of Ogilvie, Stephen Shellen, made his character a likeable and strong presence through this fake-out of a plotline that ultimately leaves Stephanie and Susan to fend for themselves.

Director Joseph Ruben hated slashers and was determined not to let The Stepfather be one, but he did fall into some slasher trappings at times. For one thing, the one-liners Jerry delivers to his victims... Not only does it take away from how scary this character could be, but they're also totally corny. He's Ward Cleaver meets Freddy Krueger for some of his dialogue.

Also, simultaneous to Jerry descending into full madman mode, Ruben throws in some slasher prerequisite T&A, showing off Stephanie's body as she takes a shower. It was a strange move to suddenly decide to use this character to provide the film with some gratuitous nudity. There is no reason for this shower scene to be in the movie other than to objectify her. Although Stephanie is sixteen, the actress playing her, Jill Schoelen, was in her early twenties at the time, but that doesn't make the shower scene any less weird.

Pretty much every guy out there is going to disagree with this, but yes... the shower scene was completely out of place and out of the blue. It doesn't go with the overall tone of the movie and just feels cheap.

Schoelen's age was an issue for me at times. No matter how short she was or how soft her voice was, she really didn't seem like a teenager to me. I like her as Stephanie, but still, she comes off like a woman in her twenties trying to act younger.

I agree. It's hard to buy Jill Schoelen as a sixteen-year-old. I like Stephanie... she's a pretty solid character, and the fact that I'm pretty sure it's a Tears For Fears poster I see in her bedroom when she walks in makes me like her even more.

Despite being given some cheeseball lines, Terry O'Quinn did terrific work in the role of The Stepfather, expertly mixing the exterior of perfection with a simmering rage just under the surface.

He is so creepy, Quinn was totally perfect for the job.

Ruben and Westlake made the wise decision of not divulging Jerry Blake's history, never fully explaining why he is the way he is, what started him down the path of being a serial killer, or even how many times he has repeated this "join a family, then kill them off" scenario. Unlike a lot of films these days, where they often feel the need to show and explain everything, the filmmakers here understood that there is power in mystery.

Even without getting into his background story, we can tell that his early years were probably terrible and that he never had a father figure... not a good one, and not for long anyway. Because his solution to problems was as drastic as it was, his mother probably moved around a lot and had a few awful and abusive men in her life. When things got rough she either left them and everything else behind, or they left her and Jerry never heard from them again. Of course I'm reaching here, but it's very hard to imagine that someone who had a good or even "normal" upbringing would turn into a cold, calculated murderer like this. Sure, people go crazy and do absurd things all the time, but this is something else. It's a pattern, and with every new family, he could tolerate less and less of what he saw as trouble.

The filmmakers also did outstanding work delving into their characters, making each one an interesting, psychologically complex person. It's understandable why Susan is drawn to Jerry, just as it's understandable why Stephanie is repelled by him.

The characters are very well written, it certainly helps the movie and gives it more depth.

With a nice, down-to-earth style captured by Ruben and cinematographer John W. Lindley and a musical score by Patrick Moraz that wavers back and forth between effective and overbearing, The Stepfather is a great little thriller with some excellent performances and very unnerving story that was unfortunately based on a real event.

I love The Stepfather, it's always been something I want to watch every now and then. The score is very effective, like every other aspect of the movie. The atmosphere is perfect and I love the houses they show, even the one Jerry was trying to sell to Dr. Bondurant.

Brian Garfield was right, John List was still out there, carrying on with his life like a regular person. He fled the crime scene he left behind in New Jersey and was able to get another accounting job in Colorado under a fake name. He lived comfortably in Colorado for a decade before moving to Virginia, and once there, right around the time that The Stepfather was going into production, he remarried. Thankfully, he never had any more children, but he was living a life of wedded bliss when The Stepfather was released in theatres. It wouldn't be until 1989 that an episode of America's Most Wanted gave away his identity and led to his capture.

It's very sad that something so awful truly happened. It's also very obvious that he was not a sane person, choosing to kill his family instead of simply trying to start over with them. Every time I hear or read about things like this I get chills down my spine.

John List died in prison in 2008. One year later, a remake of The Stepfather came out.


Judging by the special features on the DVD release, the remake of the 1987 film The Stepfather appears to have its roots in the television station Bravo's 2004 compilation of their choice for "100 Scariest Movie Moments". It was on that list that producer Greg Mooradian first saw reference to The Stepfather, and was intrigued because, unlike most of the other movies mentioned, he had never heard of it before. Within five years of being tipped off to its existence, he had guided the remake through production and onto theatre screens.

The Stepfather '09 was distributed through Screen Gems, the same company that had distributed the Prom Night remake the year before, and the creative team behind Prom Night '08, writer J.S. Cardone and director Nelson McCormick, were reunited to bring The Stepfather back to the screen.

As far as I'm concerned, they did a great job on both. I really like both remakes, though Prom Night only shares the same name with the original and not much else.

While the only similarity Cardone's Prom Night script shared with the original film was the idea of a killer murdering people on prom night, he stuck much more closely to the original Brian Garfield, Carolyn Lefcourt, and Donald E. Westlake story for The Stepfather, while also adding in some more details from the true crime case of John List.

The title role in the remake is played by Dylan Walsh, who's probably best known from his role on the television show Nip/Tuck, which is where he first worked with director McCormick.

The first time we see Walsh's character, he's bearded and going by the name Grady Edwards. We watch as he showers, shaves, dyes his hair, removes his colored contact lenses, then gets dressed and goes downstairs to eat a light breakfast, hanging up a phone that has been left off the hook. It's Christmas time, Christmas music is playing on the radio... but the Edwards family Christmas tree has toppled over, and scattered around the downstairs rooms are the corpses of a woman and her children. A family The Stepfather gave up on and murdered.

In the original film, The Stepfather passed by a bloody nightmare of a crime scene on his way out fo the house, but here, given the remake's PG-13 rating, the corpses look rather laughable. Despite the sink containing a bloody hammer, knives, and meat tenderizer, the bodies are in such good condition that a couple of them look like their souls simply escaped on their own.

They tried to give the remake a more shocking feeling by making it Christmas time and by making him seem even more cold this time around, taking his time eating breakfast surrounded by the lifeless bodies of his previous family. It didn't work. It all looks way too clean and neat and there's nothing startling about it other than the fact that the guy is a lunatic.

"Grady Edwards" exits, leaving the Christmas music playing in the house, much like John List left religious music playing all through his house when he left the corpses of his family behind.

The Edwards murders were committed in Salt Lake City, Utah, and six months later some Salt Lake City police detectives gather together to deliver some upfront exposition to the audience. The stepfather Grady Edwards is their prime suspect, but Grady Edwards was a fake identity and they have no clue as to who he really is. They do believe he has killed at least one family before, three years ago back in New Jersey, where he killed his wife and three stepchildren with gunshots to the head. (John List was from New Jersey, and killed his wife, mother, and three children with gunshots to the head.)

Other than that brief part showing the police, there's no one looking for Grady. I prefer having a family member from one of the victims involved, like in the original. I think it makes more sense and adds more drama to it.

The stepfather planned the murders ahead of time, doing things like cancelling newspaper delivery so things like newspapers piling up on the lawn wouldn't get the neighbors too suspicious too soon. (John List took similar precautions.) He leaves no trace, paying for everything in cash as he makes his way around, working his way into the families of divorced or widowed women and then eventually killing everybody. Now he could be anywhere.

It's not so clear what he really does for work though. Maybe he had some money saved?

Edwards is actually in Portland, Oregon, going by the name David Harris. Around the same time that the Salt Lake PD are throwing their hands up over the Grady Edwards case, David Harris is making a great impression on a recently divorced woman named Susan Harding, who he chances across while she's out grocery shopping with her two young children, Sean and Beth.

David can be very charming. O' Quinn was better at being creepy, but Walsh is certainly better at being charming. Their first encounter shows that, and he has Susan completely wrapped around his finger right then.

Six months after their meeting, David and Susan have gotten engaged, and Susan's oldest son Michael returns from a year of military school, where he was sent for lying to his mother, having a bad temper, and hanging out with a bad crowd, to meet his future stepfather for the first time.

I'll never understand how some women are able to jump into serious relationships that fast, with people they barely know at all, and especially how they get so deeply involved that they put a man, a complete stranger that they literally just met, before their own kids. And this doesn't only happen in movies. At least in the remake Susan actually is upset when she learns that David was rough with Sean, but that's as far as it went. Nothing else seems to matter to her, as long as he's there.

The time jumps in this film are kind of confusing, because with the two six month jumps, it should be Christmas again by the time Michael is coming home, but it's actually summer, and he makes the comment that it's strange that the relationship between his mother and David has progressed so quickly, they've only known each other since "after Christmas". I guess we aren't supposed to add the SLPD's comment that it's been six months to the "Six Months Later" card that pops up after the grocery store scene, and it's only been one period of six months.

It is confusing. Something else that I seem to see a lot in movies is people wearing winter clothes during the summer. I'm starting to wonder how warm it actually is in some places in the United States during summer, because here in Brazil there is no way you'd see people wearing denim pants, denim jackets, cardigans, long sleeve shirts at a pool party. I know that the movies aren't always shot in the right season they want to show, but if you have people in swimsuits, swimming, then it only makes sense that everyone would be in summer clothes.

David puts on the act of being a kind, caring family man, and while Susan is drawn to his apparent perfection, Michael finds it nauseating and quickly starts noticing strange things about his stepfather-to-be. Like the padlocked cabinets in his locked basement work shop, or the way he talks to himself sometimes.

David's way of trying to win Michael over is by taking him to the basement and having some tequila shots with him. He's trying to act like a cool dad, hoping that Michael's going to buy into that. It makes sense, because giving the kid a puppy wouldn't do in this case... not that it worked in the original anyway.

As Terry O'Quinn's version of The Stepfather did in '87, David also gets confused over the name of his daughter - but this time it's worse, because he doesn't call his stepdaughter the name of a daughter from a previous relationship, instead he mixes up the name of the daughter that's part of the fake backstory he tells. A daughter he says he lost in an accident involving a drunk driver.

I like this moment better in the remake. I love David's reaction when Michael calls him out on it and how mad he gets after, when he's about to show a house to a couple.

Another moment from the original that was reworked here is when Beth mentions a news report about a woman who killed her children and when the family ponders why someone would do something like that, David suggests that maybe her children disappointed her. In the original, the stepfather was reacting to a newspaper article on his own deeds when he put forth the disappointment theory, but it has the same effect on the lead stepchild in both films - it heightens the suspicion they feel.

A lot of the screenplay is made up of variations on situations from the first film. Terry O'Quinn's Jerry Blake got his stepdaughter back into the school she was expelled from to keep her from going off to boarding school, David Harris gets Michael into swim team practice so he can stay home, go to the local high school, and work on getting a swimming scholarship.

I don't really get why he'd want Michael around. In the original, Stephanie was the only kid, and a girl, so it makes sense. But here there are two other kids, and Michael is a young man...that could pose a threat. But the guy is so completely messed up, that he doesn't even think of that aspect.

Speaking of the two smaller kids. Other than Beth talking about the woman who killed her children, and David grabbing Sean, the two younger kids really are there just to be there. There's nothing to them, and the movie could definitely do without them.

Both movies feature a scene in which the stepchild listens to music in their bedroom to cover up the sound of the stepfather having sex with their mother.

I find it inappropriate in both movies. Even worse in the original. I see no reason why the kids should have to hear that.

Both stepfathers also express being uncomfortable about the displays of affection the teenagers have with their boyfriend/girlfriend.

Michael's girlfriend Kelly is played by Amber Heard, and it's kind of crazy how blatantly objectified Heard is throughout the movie. Although Kelly acts as Michael's confidante and sounding board as he grows increasingly suspicious of David, what she's really in the film to do is provide eye candy for the audience. Almost every scene she's in is set at the family pool with her in a bikini, and when she talks to Michael over the phone she's lounging in her bedroom in her underwear. Sure, Penn Badgley, who plays Michael, is shirtless in those pool scenes, but the camera doesn't focus on him the way it does on Heard. A scene even starts on a shot of her bikini bottomed butt for no reason at all except to scream "Look at her butt!"

Kelly isn't a great character. She wants Michael to let go of his suspicions, she never takes him seriously. And the only way they could show Amber Heard's body more is if she was naked. That's really all she's good for in this movie. Always in underwear or bikinis, which I have to say, she has a huge collection of. It's a different bikini every single time we see her. I think the role could've gained something if played by someone else. Everything I've seen Amber Heard in, she's exactly the same... empty acting and a lot of posing. It's "Look at how hot I am!" all around, and that gets annoying very fast.

And of course, the remakers couldn't leave out the most famous line from the original, where the stepfather starts to lose his grip on his identity and has to take a moment to think, "Who am I here?"

Michael isn't the only one who starts to sense that there's something off about David. Sean is put off by him when he gets too rough trying to show him some discipline. News of this also angers Susan's ex, Jay. David quits his job working as a real estate agent for Susan's sister Jackie when she asks him to provide some background information. An elderly neighbor lady believes David matches the sketch of a killer that was shown on America's Most Wanted. (Being featured on America's Most Wanted was how John List was caught after eighteen years on the run.)

To keep his cover from being blown, David starts killing people. The elderly neighbor gets tossed down a flight of stairs. Jay gets brutally suffocated... and tragically, an unaware Michael is only feet away while his father is being murdered. He and David even exchange a few words while Jay is dying.

Jay is a total jerk. Rude and mean to Susan, not to mention he cheated on her with his secretary. But still, he seemed to be a nice father and I was sad to see him killed.

The old lady wasn't very smart. If you're thinking one of your neighbors might be a wanted person, you don't go to their place to confront them about it. You simply call the police and hope that they'll do their job. And all of her poor kitties were left without a mommy.

The concept being updated to modern times means that David has to spend a lot of time monitoring cell phones and e-mail to make sure revealing messages aren't being exchanged. He spends so much time dealing with these things as the movie goes on, I started to find it comical. It's part of our normal daily lives now, but to see The Stepfather sitting at the computer so often was funny to me.

That's what I meant when I made the comment about how nice it was to see letters being written and delivered by mail in the original. It's so different now, everything is meant to make people closer, but to me, it keeps getting more and more impersonal. In a lot of ways, it's not an improvement. 

As the world starts closing in on him, David starts cracking and having hallucinations, and it's only a matter of time before he snaps and starts trying to kill off his new family.

Sean and Beth really have very little to do in the film, Beth especially - she barely even registers as a character. They're brushed aside to keep the focus on Michael, and they're not home when David goes on the rampage and tries to kill Michael, Susan, and Kelly... Who give him more trouble than previous families have.

Which is what I was saying about Michael being a way bigger threat to David.

While I have issues with The Stepfather '09 - the way it occasionally (mainly in the opening) feels neutered by its PG-13 rating, the wasteful inclusion of more characters than it could handle, the structure that gives David so much net-surfing downtime, the objectification of Amber Heard - I do feel that McCormick and Cardone were able to make a reasonably decent update of the original film.

I agree and I enjoy the remake even though it's not perfect. I feel like a few things could've been handled differently and better, but I still think it's a good movie to watch. I like the acting overall, with a couple of exceptions like mentioned before, I really like the score and find the writing and cinematography pretty favorable.

Sure, I think The Stepfather '87 is better in all ways, from the tone, style, and storytelling to having Terry O'Quinn over Dylan Walsh, but there have been much more egregious remakes made, and this one stands as a good movie on its own merits.

My favorite parts are the chasing and fighting at the end, and right before, when Kelly is looking for her cell phone charger in the car and then trying to warn Michael while he finds all the creepy stuff in the basement. I love the suspense.

Walsh may not measure up to O'Quinn, but if you don't let memories of O'Quinn hang over you through the movie, Walsh does do well portraying the character in his own way. Sela Ward didn't make much of an impression for me in the role of Susan, but Shelley Hack didn't really stand out in the original, either. I was surprised at how well Penn Badgley carried the film in the role of Michael.

I actually think Sela Ward was a better Susan than Shelley Hack. Granted, the character is not all that, but I think she brought more energy to the part. Penn Badgley was a surprise... he did way better than I thought he would.

As a childhood Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles super-fan, I was also glad to have Paige Turco back on my screen, playing Jackie. Turco has worked regularly since she was April O'Neil in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles parts 2 and 3, and yet nothing I've watched in the twenty years since TMNT3, so to see her in this was a pleasant surprise.

Jackie is in a stable lesbian relationship that isn't commented on at all. If it wasn't for the way the camera slobbered over Amber Heard, you'd think this movie was progressive.

It feels like they were somehow forced to add a same sex couple here for whatever reason. It's one of the things I feel weren't handled very well. The relationship feels fake.

I still think Jill Schoelen's shower scene was cheaper than any bikini scene in the remake, even though there were plenty of those. Way too many, but it almost goes with the tone of the movie better, while in the original, it just feels out of place.

If you're going to watch one Stepfather movie, the 1987 version is without question the one to watch. But if you decide to venture into the remake's territory, it's not going to be a painful experience.

I agree. Though I watch the remake every now and then like I do the original. Kind of like the Prom Night remake, I just find it very easy to sit through. I enjoy it a lot. And of course, the original is a classic to me.

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