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Movie Reviews: The Stepford Children + Mrs Ratcliffe's Revolution

The Stepford Children (1987)
The second TV movie sequel to the 1975 ‘The Stepford Wives’. Steven moves back home to Stepford with his second wife Laura (Barbara Eden) and children David (Randall Batinkoff of ‘Dead Man’s Curve’ and the ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ movie) and Mary (Tammy Lauren of ‘Martial Law’ and ‘Wishmaster’). Stepford is a town where the women and children dress like they’re in some kind of religious cult. Steven knows the perfect town is a secret trap and that there is a price for perfection. He is only too eager to carry on the town’s inhuman legacy starting with his vile punk/new wave kids.

David is a ghastly punk who can’t act while Mary has puffy 80’s hair, dresses like a ‘Lost Boys’ reject and has no visible personality. They rebel against the town where the imbecilic moms wear pinafores and the children are docile and obedient, even the cheerleaders are creepy with their endless pep. The men folk are all mean, distant and issue edicts that doom their wives and children. They’re all abusers and don’t care.

The picture like the town is fuzzy, soft and pastel looking. Everyone acts like it is the 1950s. Mary is taught cookery at school and is photobombed by the photography class. The photographs and surreptitious hair sample taken from a brush shows time has moved on since 1975 where the doomed wives were sketched. Dark forces are everywhere. This is the men folk’s idea of social cohesion? David dates Lois and her pee coloured hair. Laura befriends Lois’ wild mother Sandy. Lois’ awful insalubrious father retaliates against the wife and daughter he resents. Laura realises there is a mystery about Steven’s dead first wife Karen. Steven who sees his children as a burden is lectured by the creepy insane moral degenerate head of the Men’s Association (Richard Anderson of ‘Kung Fu: The Legend Continues’, ‘Condominium’, ‘The Bionic Woman’ and ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’).

Sandy becomes a Stepford Wife and after David, Lois and Mary cause a school dance to go awry, Lois turns into a Stepford teen. David who is one of life’s hand picked losers has the IQ of warmed up compost. Laura tries to uncover the grievance led agenda of the Men’s Association but is systemically stonewalled, rebuffed and intimidated. But soon she has built up a critical mass of information that the men in Stepford are all capable of draconian callousness and wanton calculated coldness. This film is good in parts but an abject failure in others, namely any scene with David and his utter inability to act and it is unclear if the wives and children are being replaced by clones or robots or something in-between.

Steven wilfully abandons his husbandly and parental duties to have Mary changed. David and his egregious acting wears acid washed jeans like an extra from ‘Top Gun’ and wears a scarf tied around his head plus he is unruly, back-sassing and unwanted. Why not change him first? Mary becomes wholesome, well-mannered, dresses like she’s Amish and is courteous and clean. Also she’s now a cheerleader. Laura digs up Karen’s grave and finds something unexpected. Mary tries to knife her mother and then glitches on the floor. Laura breaks into the Men’s Association. There is crying, an escape, David drives through a window on his motorbike and stuff blows up.

On a final note Stepford is a dead end exploitative town where people society doesn’t want vanish. This film was ripped off by ‘Disturbing Behavior’. The Stepford look is dated but the new wave clothing is tremendously silly looking. BTW who is Shelia E who the school photographer claims to have photographed?

Best Lines:
“How’s it going?”

“Not out of the carton!”

“Too green. Too clear.”

“I hate fish. I hate the way they look. I hate the way they smell. I hate the way they taste.”

“I’m planning to nuke Stepford.”

“That’s Stepford’s chapter of the Hell’s Angels.”

“What’s wrong with the way I dress?”

“Nobody looks like us.”

“Pass a leek please.”

“I’m talking, you listen!”

“Father loves to yell.”

“This town is not for us.”

“We hope you’ll be able to control this wife.”

“Look but don’t touch boy.”

“Essence of uncool.”

“Some kind of drugs.”

“Mr Psycho keeps picking up the phone.”

“Something really weird is coming down.”

“This family is in trouble.”

“I’m a very lucky girl.”

“I love a good bundt cake.”

“You should be happy instead of paranoid.”

“Very lucky girl, very lucky girl.”

“Still Mary only perfect. We’ve come a long way in Stepford since the early years. Things don’t go wrong the way they used to.”

Mrs Ratcliffe’s Revolution (2007)
This low budget flop is based on a true story. In 1968 committed communist Frank dragged his family to the German Democratic Republic for silly macho reasons. His slutty elder daughter Alex, snotty tween daughter Mary, idiot brother in law Philip and put upon wife Dorothy (Catherine Tate of ’Doctor Who’) go along with it, at first. The injustice collecting Frank likes the coercive confinement of the iron curtain. He has no reflection or circumspection about adhering to inhospitable cultural norms, at first.

Dorothy feels stifled and has an ability to interact socially, she feels dispirited, pained and distressed. The bratty vile goblin Mary is recruited by the Stasi, Alex is still all about being a tramp and using her menacingly predatory sexuality, Dorothy is all gin and low expectations and the family renounce their British citizenship. Their mad black market operating neighbour befriends the stocky, rejected, outcast and incurably unloved Dorothy. Alex wants to watch ‘Bilko’ and listen to American forces radio. Too late love!

The family act in craven irresponsible ways and life options make some embittered. Frank’s imperiousness leads to emotional adultery and inappropriate behaviour. Dorothy sorts out a cross functional issue when Philip is dragged off by the Stasi and she now engages with the world. She develops a full on hatred for the DDR and is disgusted by it and plans to defect. They’ve burned their passports and renounced their citizenship - where do they plan to defect to?

This was good and snappily written as events escalate in jaunty fashion. The thought leader Frank is a tool and invariably has no self-gratification. Dorothy’s defection plans are brought down by jealously, negativity, personal agendas and trouble makers. Dorothy and Philip finally get confrontational with the salaciously sleazy, filthy, insincere Frank. The uncomprehending Mary has hostility and engages in critiques and denunciations. Finally people realise being in the DDR does not contribute positively to family life and they escape via helpful misunderstandings. This has a desultory connection to the real story but it was fun.

Best Lines:
“In my opinion, she’s a prostitute.”

“A capitalist tool of consumer oppression.”

“The persistence of misery in a desert, without fish.”

“He does believe in violence.”

“My crapper is kaput.”

“Her decadent ways have no place in the modern DDR.”

“Everyone works in the DDR, even Uncle Philip. He doesn’t have so much time to lie in bed all day and have a nervous breakdown.”

“We are East Germans now. Wish us luck.”

“The enemy could be anywhere.”


“A liar and a secret smoker!”

“It’s a sandwich spread.”

“I’m going to report you now.”

“I’m staying. I like it here.”
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