The Stepfather (1987)

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Released 10-Apr-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Keep The River On Your Right; The Last Seduction
Trailer-My Beautiful Laundrette; Cinema Paradiso
DVD Credits
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 85:12 (Case: 91)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Joseph Ruben
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Terry O'Quinn
Jill Schoelen
Shelly Hack
Case Click
RPI $29.95 Music Patrick Moraz


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    The Stepfather is an average movie on an average DVD.

    Stepfathers and stepmothers tend to get fairly negative representations in popular culture. They tend to be portrayed as greedy, evil, manipulative and uncaring. This movie will do nothing to improve their image. The mysterious Jerry (Terry O'Quinn), has moved to a quiet town. He has wooed and married a widow, Susan (Shelly Hack), with a sixteen-year-old daughter, Stephanie (Jill Schoelen). Jerry is obsessed with creating a 'perfect family' with wholesome all-American, traditional family values. What no one sees, however, is the rage that bubbles away within him, just below the surface. Stephanie starts to spot some of the cracks in his personality, and Jerry is not very happy.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The image is pretty hazy throughout, and appears to be only marginally better than a good VHS tape.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, full frame (open matte).

    The image is soft throughout, and at times so hazy that it seems that the room is full of mist or fog, such as at 44:07. The shadow detail is appalling - see for example the shot in the office at 10:05.

    The colour was murky throughout and appears to have darkened with age.

    MPEG artefacts are present in the form of a slight pixelization throughout, and mild posterization, such as on the faces at 20:51. There is even some mild macro-blocking, such as on the background walls at 53:06. Film-to-video artefacts were present in the form of mild aliasing, such as the slight shimmer on the deck chair at 21:52. Surprisingly, the movie has not been adversely affected by film artefacts, but they are present occasionally. For example, a large white fleck appears at 56:50.

    There are no subtitles on this DVD.

    This is not a RSDL disc, which considering the amount of content is acceptable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Overall, the sound is very thin, flat and 'tinny'.

    There is only one audio option on this DVD, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track (at 224 kbps).

    The dialogue quality is fine, but the audio sync is occasionally slightly out, such as at 57:04.

    The music is composed and performed by Patrick Moraz, and is a collection of cheesy synth sounds and discordant notes on a keyboard.

    The audio is not surround encoded, and thus there is no surround presence and activity. The subwoofer is never called upon.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The few extras on this DVD are all presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Menu

    A very simple menu.

Theatrical Trailer (1:46)

    Fairly standard trailer.

Umbrella Propaganda

    This extra provides trailers for another four DVDs:

    Cinema Paradiso (1:28) -- This is possibly my favourite movie of all time, along with the Shawshank Redemption.

    Keep the River On Your Right (2:27) -- This looks like an  intriguing documentary that I must now rent, having seen the trailer.

    The Last Seduction (1:36) -- This trailer looks out of place compared with its art-house companions.

    My Beautiful Laundrette (1:55) -- Excellent UK movie, set in Thatcher's Britain.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Stepfather has not been released on DVD in Region 1. However, Stepfather 3 is available there on VHS, but why would you bother?

Summary

    This movie can be summed up in two words: 'cheap' and 'cheesy'. I recall seeing this movie originally as a schoolboy, and finding it to be a 'spine tingling thriller', but now it is merely predicable and very dated.

    The video quality is only slightly better than a good VHS tape.

    The audio quality is on par with a good VHS tape.

    The extras are slim.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Sunday, May 26, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Peter O
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Wayne F

Comments (Add)
A word from your favourite pedant :-) - Anthony H (read my bio)