FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Jan 18, 2011

Daddy's home and boy, is he bland.

Hey, do you guys remember that time in 2009 when they remade The Stepfather and everybody kind of ignored it and then I totally forgot that it existed? Me too! But then there it was all over Netflix instant watch and I was all, "Ohhh yeaaahhh...The Stepfather. Huh." And I watched it, and lo- it was terrible.

I looked it up on imdb to find out who was responsible for this dreck and when it turned out to be the writer/director duo behind that other pile of a remake, Prom Night, it all made sense. The OG Stepfather (1987) is of a Lifetime Movie ilk, to be sure, but at least it has some fucking bite to it, largely thanks to Terry O'Quinn in the lead role. The dude is intense! He puts on a smiling face for his new family, but it's easy to see there's a psychopath lurking juuuust underneath the surface. I can't say that the eunuch-i-fication of the film is solely the fault of Dylan Walsh as the titular stepdad- he's just working with what he's given, after all, and what he's given is a big, fat nothing.


I know "eunuch-i-fication" doesn't really make sense, but for serious- it's as if writer J.S. Cardone and director Nelson McCormick took the original film and castrated it. Then they lobotomized it and sent it off into the world in a daze. The Stepfather is everything horror fans hate about PG13 remakes- a boring, generic "rock" soundtrack used way too often; boring, generic TV actors,...a boring, generic plot...and boring, generic violence without a drop of blood. I don't mean to imply that I need my horror movies to be full of graphic violence, because I don't. In my review of the original film, here's what I said about the topic:
The violence in The Stepfather is shocking. It's not explicit per se, nor does it permeate the film...but when it comes on it comes out of nowhere with a viciousness that's really sold by O'Quinn. He doesn't just hit someone with a piece of wood- he lets loose and beats them to death. Jerry doesn't hold back, and in a sense he's far more depraved than even Jason Voorhees.
In the remake, there's none of that viciousness. Without it, The Stepfather is nothing but a tepid, sub-par made-for-TV movie, akin to eating a white rice on Wonder bread sandwich.

One thing that anyone with eyes will notice while watching The Stepfather, however, is the curious nature of Amber Heard in this film- basically, that she is straight-up exploitation eye candy. Her character is the girlfriend of the boy who does battle with the stepfather...nothing noteworthy in this type of film, to be sure. But it's been a while since that type of throw-away character has been so blatantly objectified, it's actually amusing. At least it adds the slightest dash of salaciousness to this boring affair. As one imdb user put it:
The plot isn't worth discussing. There's nothing here that we haven't seen before. What IS worth discussing is the director's obvious decision to exploit Amber Heard's lovely figure in one long never ending cheesecake sequence. You could make the argument that the ONLY reason this film was even made in the first place was to launch Amber into the stratosphere of blogworthy sex symbols (not unlike what Michael Bay managed to do with Megan Fox). You'll see Amber in her underwear lounging in bed, Amber in her itsy bitsy teeny weeny bikini, gratuitous close-ups of her splendid anatomy, etc. This exploitation becomes so flagrant that it distracts from the story itself, which is probably a good thing.

This is seriously the only time she's fully-clothed in the film, doing some High Tension shit! Don't worry, there's no blood.

Hey, do you guys remember that time in 2009 when they remade The Stepfather and everybody kind of ignored it and then I totally forgot that it existed? Me too! Let's go back to that.

18 comments:

B.E. Earl said...

A buddy of mine likes to prank me by recommending awful movies that he says are "surprisingly good". He tried to scam me with this one last week, but I'm not so stupid as I used to be. Huh?

I passed.

Stacie Ponder said...

That's hilarious! I gotta start doing that. A friend of mine did it to me with Jason X- giving me a video of it and telling me I just HAD to see it. Later, when I told him how terrible it was, he responded with "Oh yeah, I couldn't even make it through the whole thing."

goblin said...

Not that I don't enjoy looking at Amber Heard's body, but it's quite a shame that she has to keep on playing these vapid characters who are nothing more than eye candy. I think everyone who has seen 'All the Boys Love Mandy Lane' will agree with me when I say that she's a really gifted actress and deserves better roles. But I guess that won't happen any time soon. In her next movie, she'll star besides Nicholas Cage and while there are certainly worse fates out there, I somehow can't help but feel sorry for her.

Stacie Ponder said...

AGREED, 2000%.

Slyde said...

that is dissapointing to hear.

last night i too was perusing netflix instant and literally had my decision down to stepfather and the original black christmas.

i decided on bc, and it looks like i made the right choice. i loved the original SF but this sounds like ass...

Banned In Queensland said...

Oh, that reminds me, I totally forgot about the totally ignored Poseidon Adventure remake.

Thanks Stacie... I think.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha, this movie is so terrible. Slyde - Black Xmas is a million times better (I hope you meant the OG version with Margot Kidder). I have tried to watch dumbass stepfather twice - cant do it. I just cant do it. And this is coming from a person who is looking forward to mega python vs. gatoroid.
deb

Slyde said...

deb - yup, the original with ms. lois lane herself...

and i agree... i quite liked it.

Slyde said...

p.s. and totally off topic...

i noticed on your game blog that you havent played amnesia yet. That is a crime.

hands down the best horror game i played in years.... i think my vote for scariest game ever comes down to either amnesia or silent hill 3. def check it out :)

Stacie Ponder said...

Amnesia...I know! I've seen a couple of videos and I'd LOVE to play, but unfortunately I don't have the setup for it right now.

Slyde said...

well, when you DO get to play it, definitely do it right....

lights off, with a pair of headphones on to get the full sound effect. I practically jumped out of my skin playing that game. great, great stuff.

Anonymous said...

Is Amnesia for PS3? If so i'll give it a try, i've been trying to decide what my next game will be. As far as my fave - gotta go with the first Resident Evil. What can I say, I'm old!

deb

zombivish said...

Is it wrong that to say the only reason i was interested in seeing this is due to, what i will dub, the "Heard factor"? Probably.
Is it true to say that? Yes.
I really hope Ms Heard gets better roles- as much as i appreciate her "cheesecake" roles she really is fairly solid as an actor(she was pretty good working with next to nothing in The Ward).
I wonder, will her recent coming out affect the roles she's offered now? I hope we're past that kinda thing.

Stacie Ponder said...

@deb - Amnesia is available on PC & Mac for cheap...my Mac isn't powerful enough to run it, though. I'm seriously behind the times in Computerland!

@zombivish - How was The Ward as a whole? The trailer makes it look so run-of-the-mill, which is surprising because even in his less successful films (err, the ones I don't like, ha!), Carpenter is anything but run-of-the-mill.

As to her coming out, I don't think it'll affect much. I think she's unknown enough (which is weird because she's EVERYWHERE) and honestly hot enough that people will ignore it. Sad to say, but I think it's mostly about appearances.

zombivish said...

Sadly The Ward was, as the trailer promises, run-of-the-mill. It's worth a watch if you see it on instawatch or the like, but i wouldn't rush out to see it.
There are a few decent moments of grue - there was a bit of ocular trauma that would have brought a smile to Fulci's face - but over all the story was just slightly dull.
The setting was interesting and the cast was fair enough- there Amber Heard gets to play a nice strong female lead, but over all the parts were greater than the whole. I'd say it felt almost like a Master's of Horror episode except Carpenter's MoH entry Cigarette Burns oozed far far more atmosphere and tension than this did.
The Ward was just too reliant on cheap jump scares combined with a terrible ending.
Check it out if you dig on cool 60's clothes.

At the Q&A after the Ward screening at TIFF Heard made some comments about why she did the flick (getting to work with Carpenter being an obvious biggie)and she mentioned the fact that film had almost no T&A and had interesting female characters that didn't just require the (admittedly HOT cast)to "skank it up in a bikini" before knowingly acknowledge that "I've done my share of that". so at least she is aware of what.

Stacie Ponder said...

Cool, thanks for sharing! Bummer that the movie kinda blows. Hopefully better projects will come her way...and hopefully one of these years TIFF will come MY way...or I'll go its way, or whatever. :D

dementia13 said...

Ecch. What a bland movie. You're right- Amber Heard is the only heat in this movie. And "eunuch-i-fication" is an excellent and appropriate coinage. Speaking of excellent, the original's true spiritual heir was The Dentist. Forget the remake, go watch The Dentist.

@zombivish: I seriously doubt that anything about her coming out (and to show what a big deal was made of it, that's the first I've heard of it) will affect the roles she's offered. If you wonder whether we're past that, keep in mind that the entertainment industry is way, way past that, and has been since roughly the time of, oh, Shakespeare.

Moorhead said...

In the making-of video on the disk (the only reason I watched it was because I had to review it - http://insidepulse.com/2010/02/10/the-stepfather-dvd-review/ - ahem), the director says that he thought the original had a great idea and that he should "bring it to life."

I mean... really.