Stepfather II 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 tragically 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. Checking into a hotel after robbing and murdering a traveling salesman the stepfather 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 television.

Gene arrives in Palm Meadows and meets real estate agent Carol Grayland (ironically, Carol held a real estate job position which 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 and begins courting Carol, eventually winning back her and Todd over. 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 convinces Carol to send Phil over for a meeting, where Gene kills him with a broken bottle, covering up Phil's disappearance afterward by arranging it so that it looks like he simply ran off again. With Phil gone Gene and Carol arrange to get married.

Concerned about her best friend, Carol, local mail courier Madeline "Matty" Crimmins 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 convinces her to let him tell Carol the truth about his past, though this turns out to be a lie and later that night Gene kills Matty via strangulation, 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 Carol and Gene's wedding goes ahead as planned; while preparing 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 claims Gene taught him. Thinking Gene may have had something to do with Matty's death Carol confronts him, prompting Gene to have a psychotic fit and attack Carol and Todd, the latter who 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.


Terry O'Quinn Jerry Blake/Gene F. Clifford/The Stepfather
Meg Foster Carol Grayland
Caroline Williams Matty Crimmins
Jonathan Brandis Todd Grayland
Henry Brown Dr. Joseph Danvers
Mitchell Laurance Phil Grayland
Miriam Byrd-Nethery Sally Jenkins
Leon Martell Ralph Smith
Renata Scott Betty Willis
John O'Leary Sam Watkins
Glen Adams Salesman
Eric Brown Hotel Attendant
Bob Gray Choir Singer
Rosemary Welden Video Date

Lists of DeathsEdit

Name Cause of death Killer On-Screen Notes
Doctor Joseph Danvers Back of neck impaled with needle Stepfather Yes
Ralph ´´Smitty´´ Smith Head bludgeoned twice with nightstick Stepfather Yes
Phil Grayland Impaled 5 times with broken bottle Stepfather Yes
Matty Crimmins Strangled with bathrobe fabric belt/hung from ceiling Stepfather Yes


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]


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". [2] 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". [3]

Home VideoEdit

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 that same year in Canada by Alliance Atlantis and 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 release, as well as new features such as a making-of documentary. [4] [5]

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