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Thread: The Stepfather

  1. #1
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    Default The Stepfather

    I believe there are several plausible parallels between the 1987 horror/thriller film The Stepfather, and imagery or themes during The High End Of Low.

    The Stepfather features Terry O'Quinn - who some people will recognise as John Locke in one of Manson's favourite television series, LOST - in the lead role as a duplicitous murderer who takes on several different identities. The story is loosely based on the real-life New Jersey crimes of John List, whose disappearance remained a mystery from 1971 until 1989 (the same year Marilyn Manson was created, observing the prominence of serial killers on television), when he was apprehended via a campaign on America's Most Wanted.

    As The Stepfather begins, O'Quinn flees his suburban family house, having murdered his wife and children. In the first sequence, we see O'Quinn dramatically changing his appearance as he calmly leaves the murder scene, all the while checking his appearance in the mirror, which is a motif running through the film as he assumes different identities. The first mirror sequence instantly reminds me of promotional shoots from The High End Of Low:-




    Then shortly after, as his appearance begins to change, we have a distinct parallel with the Running To The Edge Of The World video:-




    It's not as easy to see there as when you're watching the movie, but if you check this YouTube Upload of the opening sequence, in the latter shot, O'Quinn's mirror is clouded with steam from the shower, just as Manson's is. They also both use razor blades (O'Quinn shaves), and clean either themselves or the walls of blood. That's another motif actually, the blood stains running down the walls reminiscent of both the EAT ME, DRINK ME cover art, and numerous lyrics during The High End Of Low.

    Here's the promotional poster:-


    Fans will perhaps note the similarity between the writing in the mirror, and the writing on Manson's walls. That phrase is interesting as well, as O'Quinn actually says it during the film, when he's tipping further into madness and momentarily forgets which persona he's supposed to be adopting, as he juggles two families he plots to kill. This reminds me of the ambiguity between Manson's different personas, especially the dialogue between he and Evan in Heart-Shaped Glasses, and lyrics during ...Low. There's a tenuous link to be found with Heart-Shaped Glasses also, as although there is no element of sexual relationship between O'Quinn and his stepdaughter, the story of a man prepared to kill who moves in with a teenage girl and her mother is comparable to Lolita*.

    Later in the film (without wanting to spoil too much) O'Quinn murders again, both by bludgeoning and stabbing with a large household knife, very similar to that used by Manson onstage over the past few years. He also disposes the body of a man he kills by positioning him in a car, and then driving it into a ravine, where it explodes into flames, further conjuring images from both EAT ME, DRINK ME and The High End Of Low. He also beats his wife with a telephone around the face in the domestic space, similar to the Running... video once more, and chases after his wife's teenage daughter with the kitchen knife, also stabbing someone else to death in the process.

    All-in-all, I feel the film and the themes or imagery Manson employed during 2009** are similar enough to warrant attention, and consider them an influence on Manson. I also recall at some stage - I think in the photographs section of Manson's old Facebook profile - there was a photograph taken from inside his home cinema of Terry O'Quinn on screen, and I believe it was The Stepfather they were watching, as he was nude in the shower.

    Nothing more on that really, unless people want to watch the film, or have seen it and wish to discuss the potential links further. It makes sense knowing that Manson has not only seen the film, but that it also features an actor he admires and has painted personally, that there could be an influential link over his work. Let me know what you think.



    * There's another, rather bizarre element to the film, mostly unrelated to this analysis, but still worth a mention. During the final scenes where O'Quinn hunts down Stephanie, the teenage daughter, we see Stephanie take a shower. There is a piece of dialogue earlier in the film where O'Quinn expressly states that Stephanie is sixteen years old, and yet as part of the narrative, we see both full front and back nudity shots of her showering. The actress who played Stephanie, Jill Schoelen, was actually twenty-three at the time of filming, but nonetheless the film knowingly portrays a scene of a sixteen-year-old girl showering in the nude. Strange stuff.

    ** Entirely coincidental and largely unrelated, but one of O'Quinn's first major film roles was in 1985, as part of the cast of Silver Bullet, a film about werewolves...
    "the Serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which
    the LORD god had made
    "

    m e m e n t o m o r i . p o s t m o r t e m


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  3. #2
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    If standing in front of a mirror was trademarked by The Stepfather, then yes, you're right.

    Not to shoot you down or whatever, but this is one of those connections that really feels like it's a long reach.

    EDIT: I do read posts as well as look at pictures, FYI.
    Last edited by kleiner352; 07-23-2013 at 10:52 AM.
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  4. #3
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    kleiner if you read the post as well as looking at pictures then it might make a bit more sense as to why S.D. choose to write about this film and its possible inspiration for Manson.

    I've not seen the film but it sounds very much like the themes used throughout EMDM/THEOL. Seeing as he knows of the film then it is possible some of it was an influence on him.

  5. #4
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    Interesting. I haven't seen the film but would be interested in seeing it. Terry O'Quinn is a boss-level actor and it sounds like there's some definite influence on Manson's work.
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    Great insight here. I will have to check out this movie.

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