The Stepfather (1987)
Succeeded by: The Stepfather II (1989)
Terry O'Quinn plays an ice-cold psychopath who marries widows with daughters in order to live out his dream as the perfect family man, but then butchers them when they turn out to disappoint him. This campy premise could have turned into a rather lackluster horror flick but for a surprisingly taut script by Donald E. Westlake and fine direction by Joseph Ruben which ensures a pleasant fluidity. Even when it telegraphs its plot and borrows horror cliches, The Stepfather retains its allure and effectiveness because it's simply so well-made. And Terry O'Quinn manages to spur life – and even some degree of sympathy – into what is basically a stock movie villain. Followed by two panned sequels, in 1989 and 1992.