Watch Wicked Stepmother
Wicked Stepmother is a 1989 comedy film directed by Larry Cohen and stars the legendary Bette Davis as Miranda Pierpoint, an ageing actress who marries a wealthy man, Sam (Barry Primus) after a whirlwind romance. Miranda is over the moon when she discovers that Sam has a teenage daughter named Jenny by his first wife, but her excitement short-lived as she soon discovers that Jenny is less than thrilled to have her as her stepmother. Miranda becomes suspicious that Jenny is manipulating Sam's affections and sets out to prove that the teenager is not as innocent as she seems.
As Miranda's suspicion grows, she takes matters into her own hands and employs a number of harebrained schemes to expose Jenny's true colors, including trying to seduce her fiancÃ©, trying to get her to eat poisoned birthday cake, and even faking her own death. Meanwhile, Jenny's mother (played by Barbara Carrera) returns from the dead following a botched cosmetic surgery and begins haunting Miranda, making her look as guilty as ever in Sam's eyes.
The film is an entertaining romp through the dynamics of a blended family, with the ever-dramatic Bette Davis delivering a masterful performance as the manipulative and scheming stepmother. The supporting cast also delivers solid performances, with up-and-coming actress Colleen Camp stealing the show as Jenny's ditzy best friend, while Carrera adds an ethereal element to the proceedings as the ghostly first wife.
One of the film's main strengths is its ability to balance comedy and suspense in equal measure, with its tongue-in-cheek tone perfectly walking the line between parody and genuine thriller. The film also serves as a satire of Hollywood excess, with Miranda's over-the-top attempts to win Sam's affection highlighting the lengths to which some will go to attain fame and fortune.
Another notable aspect of the film is its playful use of special effects, with some of the film's most memorable sequences featuring Carrera's ghostly apparition wreaking havoc on Miranda's hapless character. The film's soundtrack, featuring songs by the likes of Cyndi Lauper and Kool & The Gang, also adds to its '80s charm.
Overall, Wicked Stepmother is a fun and memorable film that showcases Bette Davis' undeniable star power and demonstrates director Larry Cohen's skill at blending humor and suspense in a unique and enjoyable manner. Fans of '80s comedies, Bette Davis, and films that don't take themselves too seriously will find much to enjoy in this underrated gem.
Wicked Stepmother is a comedy. It has received mostly poor reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 3.9.