Also known as: Stepfather II (original title) Release Date: November 3rd, 1989 Directed by: Jeff Burr Written by: John Auerbach Music by: Jim Manzie Cast: Terry O’Quinn, Meg Foster, Caroline Williams, Jonathan Brandis
Millimeter Films, Part II Productions, ITC Productions, 93 Minutes
“Haven’t I been like a father to that boy? I even had sex with you for Chrissake!” – Gene Clifford
Stepfather 2: Make Room for Daddy doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor but it’s still a good, slasher-y, black comedy. And while this isn’t really comedy, Terry O’Quinn is just so damn entertaining and kind of goofy as the murderous stepfather.
I think the thing that really makes this chapter in the trilogy of films stand out on its own is the rest of the cast.
First, you have Meg Foster, who I always appreciated in They Live and Masters of the Universe. You’ve also got Caroline Williams, who I will always associate with Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, my favorite film in that series. Lastly, you’ve got a really young Jonathan Brandis just before he’d go on to do The NeverEnding Story II and a slew of other movies.
The four main actors in this all play off of each other really well. I especially liked the tension between O’Quinn and Williams, as she continued to put him on the defensive by investigating who he really was.
Brandis was really impressive, as he was still really young but he wasn’t annoying and carried his own alongside the rest of the cast.
For the most part, this movie repeats the beats of the first one but even if it’s a bit derivative, O’Quinn hams it up and makes it interesting. Also, when he turns psycho on a dime, it’s convincing.
There is a third movie that came out a few years later, which O’Quinn didn’t return for. I’m not super enthused about checking it out because of that but I may still give it a watch to review it in the near future.
Also known as: Kill, Daddy, Kill (Germany) Release Date: January 23rd, 1987 (Los Angeles premiere) Directed by: Joseph Ruben Written by: Donald E. WEestlake, Carolyn Lefcourt, Brian Garfield Music by: Patrick Moaz Cast: Terry O’Quinn, Jill Schoelen, Shelley Hack
ITC Productions, New Century Vista Film Company, 89 Minutes
“I wanna ask you something. Are you interested in buying a house… Or are you interested in me?” – Jerry Blake
Since I had never seen any of the Stepfather films, I figured I’d rectify that this Halloween season. I, at least, want to watch the two with Terry O’Quinn because that guy is awesome and I really wanted to see how good he was in the role of an all-American dad/serial killer.
I’m glad to say that he was tremendous. I loved the hell out of him in both films. My review for the second one will be up in a few days,
I have to point out that this movie has one of the best openings in ’80s horror. It shows O’Quinn, as one of his multiple personas, getting ready for work but as it rolls on, some pretty messed up shit is slowly revealed until you see him reach the bottom of the stairs and step into a room full of bloody carnage and dead bodies. It sets the tone of the movie tremendously well and it stays burned into your memory, as you watch this psycho try to play the part of a happy, successful, suburban patriarch.
Beyond O’Quinn, the two other main characters, played by Jill Schoelen and Shelley Hack, are really good in this. I especially liked Schloelen, who I only know from Popcorn and the Robert Englund version of The Phantom of the Opera. Her scenes with O’Quinn are really good and terrifying and she does a really good job of wearing her fear and emotion on her face.
This movie was actually a bit more brutal than I had expected and it has a really solid finale and a pretty satisfying ending. Honestly, it’s a much better than average ’80s horror flick and I can’t believe that I had slept on it this long.
Release Date: December 25th, 1993 Directed by: George P. Cosmatos Written by: Kevin Jarre Music by: Bruce Broughton Cast: Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Michael Biehn, Powers Boothe, Robert John Burke, Dana Delany, Sam Elliott, Stephen Lang, Joanna Pacula, Bill Paxton, Jason Priestley, Michael Rooker, Jon Tenney, Billy Zane, Charlton Heston, Thomas Haden Church, Paula Malcomson, Lisa Collins, John Philbin, Harry Carey Jr., Billy Bob Thornton, Terry O’Quinn, Frank Stallone, Christopher Mitchum, Robert Mitchum (narrator)
“Take a good look at him, Ike… ’cause that’s how you’re gonna end up! The Cowboys are finished, you understand? I see a red sash, I kill the man wearin’ it! So run, you cur… run! Tell all the other curs the law’s comin’! You tell ’em I’m coming… and hell’s coming with me, you hear?… Hell’s coming with me!” – Wyatt Earp
I feel like an asshole because I haven’t seen this since it was first on VHS where I then watched it a half dozen times but then haven’t seen it since.
I knew that this was packed full of a lot of great manly men actors. However, I had forgotten how many were actually in this and some of them I wouldn’t have recognized back in the mid-’90s as they hadn’t fully blossomed by that point.
What’s really interesting about this pretty over-the-top, high octane western flick is that it is pretty accurate. Granted, some things were adapted from stories and legends that made the rounds after the events of the film but that’s due to there not being a whole lot of recorded history on the lives and extra context of some of these historical figures and frankly, that’s not too dissimilar from most historical pictures trying to be as factual as possible. Sometimes, there are only so many facts and you have to turn to the folklore to fill in the blanks.
This film was directed by George P. Cosmatos, a guy I will always appreciate because he helmed Rambo: First Blood, Part II and one of my favorite and grossly underrated action films, Cobra. He also directed Leviathan, which is an underwater Alien knockoff but it’s got a solid cast and is pretty entertaining, regardless.
Apparently, Kurt Russell was also pretty instrumental in the direction of this movie, as well. From what I’ve read, he was pretty much an uncredited co-director, as he felt really passionate about this movie and his role as the legendary Old West hero, Wyatt Earp. So it’s hard to fully give director credit to either Cosmatos or Russell but their combined effort turned out one of the greatest westerns ever made.
Beyond the direction, this film is also great because of its immense and uber talented cast.
Top-to-bottom, this film is full of stars but they all fit their roles to a friggin’ tee. They blend into this world and while you very much know who they all are, you don’t get lost in the sea of familiar faces because they’re all so good and so is the script.
I’ve got to say that the real standout for me was Michael Biehn, though. Man, he’s already one of my favorite actors of his era but he shines in this movie like he never has before. This truly elevated him and he showed up for work, ready to make Johnny Ringo one of the most iconic western movie villains of all-time. He succeeded at that, greatly. Re-watching this now also kind of pisses me off, as he never really reached the superstardom he probably deserved and he should’ve really moved on to bigger things after this.
I also loved the hell out of Powers Boothe in this and I’d say it’s one of his best performances too.
All in all, this is action packed, fast paced and has the right level of testosterone flowing through every scene. Well, except for maybe the romantic horse riding bit, which feels a tad out of place. But other than that, this is a pretty close to perfect masterpiece.
Rating: 9.5/10 Pairs well with: other ’90s westerns and films with just a bunch of badass dudes kicking the shit out of assholes.
Also known as: The Adventures of the Rocketeer (Australia) Release Date: June 19th, 1991 (Hollywood premiere) Directed by: Joe Johnston Written by: Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, William Dear Based on:The Rocketeer by Dave Stevens Music by: James Horner Cast: Billy Campbell, Alan Arkin, Jennifer Connelly, Timothy Dalton, Paul Sorvino, Terry O’Quinn, Ed Lauter, James Handy, Jon Polito, William Sanderson, Margo Martindale, Clint Howard, Melora Hardin, Tiny Ron Taylor
Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Silver Screen Partners IV, 108 Minutes
“That son of a bitch will fly!” – Howard Hughes
It’s been close to three decades since I’ve seen The Rocketeer, as I saw it in the theater in 1991 and once on VHS just after that. I hadn’t seen it since but I have always had pretty fond memories of the film. Now that it’s on Disney+, I figured I’d revisit it.
The film is actually much better than I remembered and I’m surprised that it didn’t leave a big enough mark on me to inspire me to buy it over the last 29 or so years. But I feel like the things I appreciate about it now are mainly due to my age and the lack of imaginative filmmaking that closed out the 2010s.
It feels very much like a 1990ish live action Disney movie but it reminds me a lot of Dick Tracy because of the period it takes place in, as well as the Indiana Jones films due to the involvement of Nazis, as well as being full of adventure, action and very ’30s-’40s pulpy elements.
The film is actually based off of a comic book character and that character was created as an homage to the rocket-backpack heroes of the old serials like Commando Cody.
The Rocketeer greatly benefits from having a large, great cast. Many of these people I didn’t even realize were in this, as I saw this in a time where I probably wouldn’t have recognized many of them. The bulk of the acting duties, however, fall on Bill Campbell, Alan Arkin, Jennifer Connelly and Timothy Dalton. All four are pretty good in this and Connelly, who’s never not been beautiful, looks like an old school Hollywood starlet from the silver screen era.
I loved Dalton in this, as the villain who is one-part Nazi stooge and one-part Basil Rathbone. His role as the actor within the film was really neat and a cool idea for a bad guy. He’s slimy and vile but you also kind of feel for him, as he’s being forced into evil by the Nazis. But don’t get me wrong, he’s still a total bastard and a great one at that.
The special effects, for the most part, hold up well. The only shots that looked odd were kind of unavoidable, as this was made in a time where you could hide things on celluloid film. This wasn’t made for the digital HD era, so there are a few bits that look wonky in a way that they probably didn’t in 1991.
From memory, this film was kind of a dud, financially. It should have been the start of a franchise for Disney but it didn’t connect with a large enough audience and we only ever got this one film. When I was a kid, I was really looking forward to more of these, as well as more Dick Tracy. Part of me kind of hoped that they could’ve crossed over but none of my dreams for these films materialized.
If you’re going to cancel Disney+ because The Mandalorian is over, you might want to give this a watch first.
Rating: 8/10 Pairs well with: other early ’90s family action movies, most notably Dick Tracy.
Young Guns was kind of a big deal when it came out in 1988. It had hip young stars and it was a western in a decade where they weren’t too popular. It was like a gritty, Brat Packy action flick that saw our heroes face off against one of the greatest western villains of all-time, Jack Palance.
And then there was a sequel, which brought in some other young stars on the rise.
Since it has been awhile since I’ve seen these two movies, I felt like it was time to revisit them.
Young Guns (1988):
Release Date: August 12th, 1988 Directed by: Christopher Cain Written by: John Fusco Music by: Anthony Marinelli, Brian Banks Cast: Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen, Dermot Mulroney, Casey Siemaszko, Terry O’Quinn, Jack Palance, Terence Stamp
Morgan Creek Productions, 20th Century Fox, 103 Minutes
“Hey, Peppin. I see you got Charley Crawford down there with you.” – Billy the Kid, “Yeah, that’s right, Bonney. We got a whole…” – Peppin, [Bonney goes to the window and shoots Charley Crawford] “Hey, Peppin. Charley Crawford’s not with you anymore.” – Billy the Kid
While I still enjoyed this movie, so many years after I had seen it last, it isn’t a film that has aged well. Still, it has a lot of high adrenaline moments and a great young cast of up and coming talented actors. It just feels very ’80s and kind of hokey, at points.
Emilio Estevez is the star of the picture but he is surrounded by Kiefer Sutherland and Lou Diamond Phillips, who would also join him in the sequel, as well as his brother Charlie Sheen, Dermot Mulroney and Casey Siemaszko. There is also Jack Palance as the villain, Terence Stamp as the mentor and John Locke himself, Terry O’Quinn, as an ally of sorts.
It is cool seeing these guys come together for a real balls to the wall adventure but the writing was pretty weak. This chapter in Billy the Kid’s life was interesting to see on screen but the movie does take some liberties, albeit not as many as its sequel.
Estevez is really enjoyable as William H. Bonney and he made the historical figure cool, even if he was a killer and not a very good person. He embraced the role, ran with it and gave it a lot of energy that someone else probably wouldn’t have been able to muster. At least not quite the same way Estevez did. Plus, I always like seeing him act with his brother. Sadly, Sheen doesn’t last too long and obviously didn’t return for the sequel after meeting his demise in this one.
Problems aside, Young Guns is still entertaining and a really fun movie. This one is considered the superior of the two but I actually like Young Guns II a hair bit more.
Rating: 7/10 Pairs well with:Young Guns II.
Young Guns II (1990):
Release Date: August 1st, 1990 Directed by: Geoff Murphy Written by: John Fusco Music by: Alan Silvestri, Jon Bon Jovie Cast: Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Christian Slater, William Petersen, Alan Ruck, Balthazar Getty, James Coburn, Jenny Wright, Robert Knepper, Viggo Mortensen, Tracey Walter, Bradley Whitford,
Morgan Creek Productions, 20th Century Fox, 104 Minutes
“Yoohoo. I’ll make you famous!” – Billy the Kid
Young Guns II was a good sequel to the first. It’s far from a perfect film and has its share of issues but it feels consistent with its predecessor and I liked the additions to the cast in this one. And then there is the sexy bare ass scene with Jenny Wright that really got me excited when I was an 11 year-old in the movie theater seeing her majestic bum on a thirty foot screen. It was one of those special moments in life where you truly believe that God is real and he’s your best friend.
The soundtrack by Jon Bon Jovi makes the film feel dated but the instrumental versions of his pop rock song are still enjoyable and give the film an extra level of hipness that the previous picture didn’t have.
I really like the addition of Christian Slater here and he is my favorite character in this film series. I also liked seeing Alan Ruck and Balthazar Getty join the gang. Another plus for me was seeing Bradley Whitford get a small but important role, as I always liked him, even if I only knew him as being a dirtbag in several ’80s teen comedies. Whitford would go on to have a pretty nice career where he could show off his acting prowess much more effectively than his earlier roles.
While the big finale in the first film was bigger than anything that happens in this one, this film has a grittier feel to it, which I liked. I also liked that it told the Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett story, even if it took some big liberties.
The film also entertains the Brushy Bill Roberts story, where an old man back in the ’40s claimed that he was Billy the Kid and that he actually wasn’t killed by Garrett in 1881. Emilio Estevez also plays the older Bill, where Whitford plays the guy interviewing him.
Both films have some scatterbrained writing but that doesn’t make them hard to follow and not enjoyable. This chapter is more disjointed than the first but its positives give it an edge, in my opinion. The returning cast seemed more in tune with their roles and Slater was fun to watch. Rating: 7/10 Pairs well with: Young Guns.
Release Date: October 11th, 1985 Directed by: Dan Attias Written by: Stephen King Based on:Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King Music by: Jay Chattaway Cast: Gary Busey, Everett McGill, Corey Haim, Megan Follows, Terry O’Quinn, Lawrence Tierney, Bill Smitrovich, Kent Broadhurst, David Hart, James Gammon, Tovah Feldshuh (voice)
Paramount Pictures, 95 Minutes
“I mean, uh, what the heck you gonna shoot a .44 bullet at anyway… made out of silver?” – Uncle Red, “How about a werewolf?” – Mac
I’ve made no secret that I’m not a big Stephen King fan but maybe there is something to be said about film adaptations of his work where he actually provides the screenplay because Silver Bullet is a pretty good picture.
It is a typical werewolf story and there were several big werewolf movies in the 1980s but this one is only eclipsed by An American Werewolf In London, which is a true classic. While The Howling is beloved by many, and I like it a lot too, Silver Bullet surpasses it.
The film stars the always insane Gary Busey, as well as Corey Haim when he was still cute and showed some promise as an actor. The film also features Everett McGill, who was great in Twin Peaks, as well as small parts by Terry O’Quinn a.k.a. John Locke from Lost and Lawrence Tierney, the boss from Reservoir Dogs.
The movie utilizes some pretty stellar practical effects. In fact, it wastes no time in showing you the werewolf in action and it isn’t afraid to keep it obscured in an effort to hide flaws in the effects. The werewolf looks damn good and seeing it rip people to shreds from the get go is a real treat. Even the transformations of the werewolf look good.
One scene that was absolutely impressive was the hallucination in the church where we see all the townspeople transforming. I can’t imagine how difficult this was to capture in the mid-80s with budgetary constraints and without CGI to fill in the blanks.
The story of Silver Bullet is initially a whodunit mystery with a werewolf twist. Once the reveal happens, midway through the film, it goes into high octane and never relents until the big finale, which may be a bit hokey but is still really awesome.
Silver Bullet is pretty underrated and fans today don’t seem to know much about it. There were a lot of Stephen King adaptations that were a lot more popular than this one but this is definitely one of the best. It is infinitely superior to that 1990 television miniseries shitfest It. In fact, it is superior to all of the television miniseries of King’s works that were super popular throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s.
And don’t be fooled by those lackluster King adaptations, this one has a great amount of blood and gore. It also has some humor, as the werewolf steals the baseball bat from an attacker and uses it against him.
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