Stepfather II: Make Room for Daddy (1989)

Just when you thought he was gone, he’s back for seconds in this sequel to the 1987 psychological thriller that now delves mainly into slasher style territory.

After being nearly killed by Stephanie Maine, Jerry Blake awakens in a mental institution with scars from his previous effort to create the perfect family. Hatching a plan to escape, Jerry gets in the good graces of the new psychiatrist but he ultimately does in fact kill him and the security guard before disguising himself as the guard to leave the facility and find his next place to strike. He finds a small community in California and becomes a psychiatrist named Gene Clifford.

Gene instantly eyes a woman named Carol Grayland, who is on the verge of divorcing her husband after he had an affair. Gene bonds with Carol’s son Todd right away and when Carol’s estranged husband returns to the picture, things begin to go awry. After dispatching the philandering husband, Gene and Carol start a relationship with Todd supporting it as he and Gene click. However, Carol’s friend Matty begins to suspect something isn’t right with Gene. Despite her futile efforts, Matty intends to get to the bottom of things about who Gene is, especially when Carol accepts Gene’s marriage proposal.

He’s back and he’s set to find another perfect family. From the director who would later bring us Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III and a script by John Auerbach that brings back the titular Stepfather in the form of the great Terry O’Quinn, this is actually a well-done sequel. This time, going under the name Gene Clifford, instead of finding a widow, our Stepfather finds a potential victim in a divorcee and son and will do anything to make sure he is a part of that family. O’Quinn once again gets to rift on whistling “Camptown Races” after he kills someone and when there is a moment of his not getting his way, like in the original, he unleashes rage with a witness unknowing watching them.

However, unlike the original where it is his stepchild watching, it’s the best friend of his potential victim. In this case, it’s post office worker Matty, played by Caroline Williams of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 fame. She intends to get to the bottom of things to protect Carol, played by Meg Foster, who just two years before, menaced audiences with a great role as Evil Lyn in Masters of the Universe. The film also makes good use of future stepson Todd, played by Jonathan Brandis. It is not until the insane climax, which takes place at the impeding nuptials, where he finally sees his future stepfather’s true colors and will go to great lengths to protect his mother. The killings are really graphic and are slightly tamer compared to the original, but the finale still stands out as one of epic propotions.

Stepfather II: Make Room for Daddy is a very unexpected and yet, well done sequel with Terry O’Quinn returning as the dual personality that is the titular role. Excellent support from Meg Foster, Caroline Williams, and the late Jonathan Brandis make this for a good sequel.

WFG RATING: B

An IFC Entertainment Group production. Director: Jeff Burr. Producers: Darin Scott and William Burr. Writer: John Auerbach; based on characters created by Carolyn Lefcourt, Brian Garfield, and Donald E. Westlake. Cinematography: Jacek Laskus. Editing: Pasquale A. Buba.

Cast: Terry O’Quinn, Meg Foster, Caroline Williams, Jonathan Brandis, Mitchell Laurence, Henry Brown, Miriam Byrd-Nethery. Leon Martell, Renata Scott.

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