When last we saw the Stepfather, he had been fatally shot and stabbed. But, like HALLOWEEN's Michael Myers, Jerry Blake is back again, although this sequel to Joseph Ruben's well-received THE STEPFATHER (1987) is far more welcome than the umpteenth installment of the "Friday the Thirteenth" or "Halloween" series. Directed by Jeff Burr, STEPFATHER 2 follows Jerry (Terry O'Quinn, whose lead performance was so riveting in the original) as he escapes from a psychiatric hospital and, drawing on his years of psychoanalysis, becomes a family counselor in idyllic Palm Meadows--calling himself Dr. Gene Clifford. There he sets his sights on divorcee Carol Grayland (Meg Foster), but encounters two roadblocks: Carol's ex-husband (Mitchell Laurance), who wants his family back, and her coworker Matty (Caroline Williams), who begins questioning Dr. Clifford's psychological expertise. Fans of the original shouldn't have any trouble figuring out how Jerry deals with these problems. Dazzlingly directed by Ruben, THE STEPFATHER was a bracingly original horror film that also poked fun at our sitcom-warped search for perfect family bliss; STEPFATHER 2 simply covers familiar slasher territory (though often skillfully). Still, unlike other horror film sequels, it's not an offensive rip-off; rather it offers variations on the bogey man theme, delighting in one-liners that sustain the blackly comic tone even when the suspense falters.