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Who am I here?
~ The Stepfather's infamous catchphrase.

The "Stepfather" is the only known (real) name of the titular main antagonist of the 1987 psychological horror film The Stepfather and its two sequels Stepfather II: Make Room For Daddy and Stepfather III: Father's Day. He is also the eponymous main villain of the 2009 thriller horror film of the same name.

He was portrayed by Terry O'Quinn in the first two films. In the third film Stepfather III: Father's Day, he was portrayed by Robert Wightman (a change explained by the fact he gets plastic surgery). In the 2009 film, he is portrayed by Dylan Walsh.

Appearance

The Stepfather is a middle-aged man or older who is able to alter his appearance however he sees fit to make himself appear normal or different from his previous alias. However, his real appearance is a balding spectacled man.

Following the incident of the second film, he received plastic surgery that altered his appearance into that of a young looking male with a full head of well-groomed hair.

Personality

In almost all his aliases, the Stepfather appears to be both a likeable and charismatic man, charming his way into the lives and hearts of multiple widowed or lonely women without revealing his true nature. Underneath all this, he is, in fact, an unstable and ruthless man, who secretly lashes out whenever the smallest thing goes wrong. In most situations, the Stepfather often smashes things using a hammer, even ranting to himself about numerous things, most notable maintaining order or his current life.

The Stepfather is a rather delusional and idealistic, seeking what he believes is thePerfect Family, something that has caused him to act as if he's the perfect husband and father. However, despite this, most often than not, his stepchildren are able to see passed this and realize there is something wrong with him. As shown in Stephanie (Stepfather I), Andy (Stepfather II), and Michael (Stepfather Remake), all of whom could tell he tried too hard to relate to and be liked by them, while obviously prying into their personal lives.

In handling the children, who ends up being his main nemesis in the end, in spite of seeming to care about them, on the inside the Stepfather doesn't. He killed Dr. Dondurant, Stephanie's psychiatrist and close friend; and Father Ernest Brennan, Andy's best friend and grandfather figure, then tried gaining their sympathy without showing actual remorse for killing them. In the remake, he grabbed Sean's neck after being told to turn down his TV, albeit, he couldn't hear her; then murdered their father, Jay M. Harding, who tried reconnecting with Michael.

If the situation arises where the Stepfather feels his ideal perfect family is endanger, often by others, most notable those related to or close to them who attempts to find out more about him. The Stepafather would murder each of them before that happens, however, ironic enough, their deaths would be the cause of his ruse being uncovered and causing the tear in his family.

In both the first and third films, if his family started breaking apart, the Stepfather will start on working on building a bond with another family before returning to kill the previous one.

Biography

The Stepfather

Stepfather.jpg

Little is known of the Stepfather's life history, not even his real name. A few subtle clues are given during a few of his rants to himself when he is alone (or thinks he is), suggesting he was the victim of an abusive father. He is a serial killer who is obsessed with extremely conservative family values, and his M.O. is to find an unmarried, divorced or widowed woman, preferably with children, and begin dating her under an assumed name with a made-up personal history.

Whenever the family he attempts to create inevitably doesn't live up to his extremely demanding standards, he suffers a mental and emotional breakdown and flees, creating a new identity and life for himself somewhere else, usually murdering his wife and stepchildren before doing so. Although he has done this numerous times prior to the events of the first film, the Stepfather's first noteworthy alias was Henry Morrison.

Under this name, he married a woman with several children. Exactly what happened isn't known, but things went wrong and the Stepfather murdered the entire family and left. As Morrison, he was a bearded man with long hair and glasses. He shaved the beard, got rid of the glasses and cut his hair short (in actuality he is balding and wears a toupee), transforming himself into real estate agent Jerry Blake, who then went on to romance and marry a single woman named Susan, who had a teenage daughter named Stephanie.

Although Susan was smitten with "Jerry," Stephanie didn't like him, and the feeling was mutual; the Stepfather dislike his stepdaughter's rebellious streak and the fact that she saw a psychiatrist. Stephanie began suspecting her stepfather was the notorious Henry Morrison, and confided in her psychiatrist Dr. Bondurant. Bondurant looked into Jerry's past and started becoming suspicious as well, so he meets Jerry in a house for sale to investigate him, but the Stepfather realizes the doctor's true motive and decided Bondurant knew too much and beaten him to death with a wooden plank. Later telling Stephanie the man was found dead and pretends to grieve with her.

In the meantime, his brother-in-law from the Morrison marriage, Jim Ogilvie, was hunting him to avenge his murdered sister.

Realizing his Jerry Blake persona was quickly in danger of falling to pieces, the Stepfather hurriedly began setting up a new life as a man named Bill Hodgekins, and even started dating a single woman named Dorothy Rinehard while still married to Susan. As Hodgekins, he took off his toupee to show off his receding hairline, wore glasses and a false mustache. A slip of the tongue gave things away to Susan too soon, and he attacked her, knocking her unconscious while Stephanie was upstairs.

When Jim Ogilvie showed up, he hesitated when it came time to shoot the man he'd known as Henry Morrison, allowing the Stepfather to stab and kill him. He then pursued Stephanie with the intent to kill her, but Susan got Jim's gun and shot her erstwhile husband, badly injuring him. Stephanie then stabbed him in the chest with a knife. The Stepfather fell down the stairs and was initially thought to be dead, however he survived, and was taken into custody for the multiple murders he'd committed, and committed to an insane asylum in Puget Sound.

Stepfather II: Make Room for Daddy

Since he was arrested while in his Jerry Blake persona, this was the name he was admitted to the asylum under. He was treated by psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Danvers, who the Stepfather found intensely interesting and sought to emulate. After killing Danvers and a security guard, the Stepfather escaped and assumed the identity of the psychiatrist by the name of Dr. Gene Clifford. He killed a salesman and stole his money and his car, and moved into a new subdivision under the Dr. Clifford identity, where he immediately began attempting to woo real estate agent Carol Grayland, a recent divorcee with a son named Todd.

Complications arose, first from Carol's ex-husband Phil and then from her friend Matty, who didn't think "Gene" was who he said that he was. She looked up the high school he claimed to be from and discovered that there had been a Gene Clifford there, but he was a different looking person from the psychiatrist her friend was dating. The interference of both Phil and Matty forced the Stepfather to murder both of them. He stabbed Phil to death with a broken bottle and strangled Matty. Carol eventually figured out the truth and confronted "Gene" about where he'd gotten a certain brand of wine (he had in fact taken it from Matty's house after killing her).

Losing his temper, he attacked Carol, who was saved by her son Todd, and the Stepfather was badly injured yet again when the claw end of a hammer was buried in his chest. However, he survived and escaped.

Stepfather III: Father's Day

He took the name Keith Grant and hired a back alley doctor to do plastic surgery to change his appearance, after which he murdered the doctor. He continued his efforts to find the perfect family, murdering anyone who got in his way or tried to dig too deeply into his past, before finally meeting his gruesome end in a woodchipper.

Remake

Within the 2009 remake, the Stepfather goes under the name of David Harris. Not too much is different about character though he's not quite as developed as he is in the original and seems to have full control of his actions and knows how badly they hurt people, thus deteriorating any chance of a bond he may have had with his victims like in the first film. He also escapes prison at the end of the movie and seduces a woman who has two children.

Abilities

Master Carpenter: In all three films, including the remake, the Stepfather has shown to be an adept carpenter, often seen working with wood and houses.

Disguise Intuition: The Stepfather is also adept at altering his appearance, often either growing out his hair, cutting it, or using hair extensions, glasses or contacts (even colored ones) to make him appear like someone completely different.

Enhanced Endurance: He has proven to be more durable than a normal person likely due to his own insanity, often surviving injuries that would kill or stop a normal person. In the first film, he was stabbed using a broken mirror, shot twice, then stabbed in the chest using a knife. In the second, he was stabbed in the hand using a cake cutter, then again stabbed in the chest using a hammer's clawside. In the third, he underwent plastic surgery without being put under without screaming or moving around before recovering from the operation, however, he was permanently killed after being stuck in a woodchipper.

Trivia

  • The 1987 film and its 2009 reboot were loosely based on the crimes of John List, who murdered his entire family and lived as a fugitive for several years.
  • Ironically, all the recent families he's been apart of has fallen apart partly due to situations that he caused for himself in an attempt to keep up his cover as the "perfect man".

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