TNB Night Owl–Revenge of the Stepford Wives

Don Johnson, photo by Alan Light

NOTE–THERE ARE SPOILERS FOR THE STEPFORD WIVES BELOW. I’m assuming that, between 44 years ago and now, you’ve already heard what happened, but just in case, you have been warned.

This is not a metaphor. It is a real movie. THE STEPFORD WIVES, both the novel and the movie, were icons of American culture. The book came out in 1972 and could be seen as both a male fantasy about sublimating women, and as a women’s horror story, imagining what their husbands hoped for, deep down. The 1975 movie adaptation did a great job portraying the suspense as our freethinking, liberated main character watches the women around her become robotic. It was a classic of filmmaking and will live on for generations.

The sequels, on the other hand, were lost to the bowels of VHS sadness.

The first among them, REVENGE OF THE STEPFORD WIVES (1980) was aired five years later (although the title card places is ten years later) as a made-for-TV flick. It opens with a husband complaining that, since the change didn’t “take” with his wife, they’d have to leave the state and pretend he never tried turning her into a mindless slave. Why the wife doesn’t seem the least bit upset that her husband didn’t try to “change” her is not explained. A lot in this movie isn’t explained. But more on this later.

At this point you may ask yourself “Wait, in the original they killed the women and made robot replacements. How could something like that not take?” Easy. They pretend that didn’t happen. This time they change the women with “thyroid medication”. As long as the women take their four pills a day, never drink alcohol, and never feel strong emotions, they’ll be unemotional and compliant. How does the medication work? Again, don’t ask how because they aren’t going to explain it anyway.

The cast isn’t bad. It stars Sharon Gless as a reporter sent to investigate how this city can have a near-zero crime rate, and Don Johnson as the everyman newcomer to town. And I will say the ending (as hinted by the title) is a lot more cathartic than the original. There’s only so good it can be, with the big “gotcha” already known when you go into it, having seen the original and seen the title of this.

What it is, though, is good goofy fun, and a throwback to an era when they genuinely tried to make horror films to air on network TV. And, at least it’s better than ALL THIS AND WORLD WAR II.

If you want a popcorn flick to start out your weekend, it’s streamable from YouTube:

QUESTION OF THE NIGHT–What’s the best quality of your significant other?

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