Wicked Stepmother


1h 32m 1989
Wicked Stepmother

Brief Synopsis

A couple comes home from vacation to find that their grandfather has re-married. The stepmother (a witch) takes over and the couple plot to get rid of her.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG-13
Genre
Comedy
Fantasy
Horror
Release Date
1989
Distribution Company
METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER STUDIOS INC. (MGM )
Location
Los Angeles, California, USA; Hancock Park, California, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m

Synopsis

A couple comes home from vacation to find that their grandfather has re-married. The stepmother (a witch) takes over and the couple plot to get rid of her.

Crew

Gene Abel

Art Director

Eric Alley

Special Effects

Dorothy Amos

Costumes

Ara Ashjian

Sound

Lynn Barker

Special Effects

W C Bradley

Assistant

Stephen P Brien

Special Effects

Robert Burns

Special Effects

Greg Cheever

Sound

Arthur J Codron

Sound Editor

Larry Cohen

Executive Producer

Larry Cohen

Screenplay

Melissa "stanley" Cohen

Photography

Cynthia Costas

Production Supervisor

Duke Crawford

Set Decorator

Moe Disesso

Animal Trainer

David Dittman

Makeup

James Dixon

Location Manager

George Dodge

Special Effects

Bryan England

Director Of Photography

Robert Folk

Music

Jani Fullerton

Stunts

Ray Greer

Special Effects

Jeffrey J. Haboush

Sound

Sanford Hampton

Assistant Director

Kenneth Herbster

Camera Operator

David Hewitt

Effects Coordinator

Jan Heyneker

Key Grip

Pat Holland

Animal Trainer

William Humphrey

Animator

Mike Hyatt

Rotoscope Animator

Ann Job

Set Decorator

Dayne Johnson

Hair

David Kern

Editor

Carol Kottenbrook

Production Coordinator

Lynn Lacava

Assistant

Louis Lazzara

Makeup

Robert Littman

Producer

Rocky Malloney

Other

Hal Marshall

Production Coordinator

Rodd Matsui

Special Effects

Lori Mcclellen

Costumes

Bryon Moore

Special Effects

Kristi Morais

Assistant Director

Cathy Mullamphy

Special Effects

George Neil

Special Effects

Bob Norin

Makeup

Kim Ornitz

Sound Mixer

Rick Pallack

Assistant

Lynda Clark Pearl

Unit Production Manager

Doug Poole

Property Master

Jennifer L Pray

Set Decorator

Diane Roberson

Hair

Stephen Rocha

Lighting Technician

Greg P. Russell

Sound

Roger Sassen

Lighting Technician

Kathryn Sermak

Associate Producer

Debra Simon

Photography

Dennis Skotak

Technical Advisor

Robert Skotak

Technical Advisor

Paul B Stader

Stunts

Paul B Stader

Stunt Coordinator

Bob Stewart

Other

Laurie Sullivan

Costumes

Jim Sweet

Key Grip

Bruce Tauscher

Other

Leandro Velazquez

Stunts

Joseph Wallikas

Digital Effects Supervisor

Don Ward

Special Effects

Mary Lou Ward

Special Effects

Brenda Weisman

Script Supervisor

Julie Weiss

Costume Designer

Mark Williams

Special Effects

James B Winburn

Stunts

Marc Mac Young

Special Effects

Robert Zoller

Property Master

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG-13
Genre
Comedy
Fantasy
Horror
Release Date
1989
Distribution Company
METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER STUDIOS INC. (MGM )
Location
Los Angeles, California, USA; Hancock Park, California, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m

Articles

Wicked Stepmother (1989)


Manhattan-born filmmaker Larry Cohen managed to resourcefully overcome a number of obstacles over the course of his career in film and television. He managed to work around permit restrictions, slashed budgets, incomplete scripts and other factors that would deplete the average director’s creative inspiration. After scoring his biggest hit with the public in 1974 with It’s Alive (which in turn spawned two less lucrative sequels), he became firmly identified with the horror and science-fiction genres, something he continued to embrace with films like God Told Me To (1976), The Stuff (1985) and perhaps his most acclaimed film, Q: The Winged Serpent (1982). Even his darkest films were laced with a heavy dose of satirical and very offbeat humor, a trait that came to the forefront with his idiosyncratic horror comedy Full Moon High (1981).

However, one of the biggest projects of his career also turned out to be the one that became the most infamous: Wicked Stepmother (1989). It started as a whimsical supernatural comedy starring Bette Davis as Miranda, a heavy smoking witch who marries Sam (Lionel Stander) while his daughter Jenny (Colleen Camp) is away from home with her husband, Steve (Davis Rasche). Upon returning, Jenny is horrified to find herself in a real-life fairy tale that puts her entire family in peril. Unfortunately, disaster struck when the film began shooting in the Spring of 1988 in Los Angeles, when Davis had to take a break from filming after one week for dental surgery in New York – but she never returned to the set. Accounts differ from that point, with Davis claiming eight months later in the Los Angeles Times that she was displeased with the footage that had been shot: “I’m not a vain person. But at 80 years old I don’t want to look the way I looked. It could seriously be the end of anybody ever hiring me again.”

Cohen’s side of the story begins when he saw Davis presenting at the Golden Globes (most likely the 1986 ceremony), according to a 2012 reminiscence for Film Comment, and he decided to write a part for her that would give her another spot in the limelight rather than being a fixture at award ceremonies. The two hit it off, and he claimed that the dental procedure had a much heavier toll than anticipated that ultimately led to her being unable to return to the production. Davis had made a physically limited but emotionally potent comeback in The Whales of August (1987) by the time the script was done, and she had also published a bestselling memoir, This ‘n That. Though her reps initially passed on the script, Turner Classic Movies’ own Robert Osborne lived in her building and passed it along to her directly. What started off as a harmonious production came to a swift end soon after the camera started rolling, with Davis appearing in TV interviews numerous times over the following year recalling her version of why she left.

In the interim, Cohen did some reshuffling of the film to boost the role of Barbara Carrera, who had initially been cast as Davis’ conniving daughter Priscilla (also a witch). The solution to the film’s sudden, very public problem: turn Carrera into an alternate version of Davis’ character herself, also using cat transformations to rationalize the plot gaps and allow the film to be completed. A veteran of the Cohen-scripted I, the Jury (1982), the Nicaraguan-born actress ended up sharing equal poster space with Davis when the film opened on February 3, 1989, ultimately becoming more of a success on VHS when it hit home video a year later. For movie buffs, the film offered a chance to see Davis on the big screen again and get a chuckle out of a well-timed gag involving a photo of Stander’s previous wife, which we wouldn’t dream of spoiling. Davis would pass away later that same year on October 6, leaving behind a cinematic legacy filled with dramatic real-life twists and turns that, as it turned out, would extend to the film that would ultimately prove to be her swan song.

Wicked Stepmother (1989)

Wicked Stepmother (1989)

Manhattan-born filmmaker Larry Cohen managed to resourcefully overcome a number of obstacles over the course of his career in film and television. He managed to work around permit restrictions, slashed budgets, incomplete scripts and other factors that would deplete the average director’s creative inspiration. After scoring his biggest hit with the public in 1974 with It’s Alive (which in turn spawned two less lucrative sequels), he became firmly identified with the horror and science-fiction genres, something he continued to embrace with films like God Told Me To (1976), The Stuff (1985) and perhaps his most acclaimed film, Q: The Winged Serpent (1982). Even his darkest films were laced with a heavy dose of satirical and very offbeat humor, a trait that came to the forefront with his idiosyncratic horror comedy Full Moon High (1981).However, one of the biggest projects of his career also turned out to be the one that became the most infamous: Wicked Stepmother (1989). It started as a whimsical supernatural comedy starring Bette Davis as Miranda, a heavy smoking witch who marries Sam (Lionel Stander) while his daughter Jenny (Colleen Camp) is away from home with her husband, Steve (Davis Rasche). Upon returning, Jenny is horrified to find herself in a real-life fairy tale that puts her entire family in peril. Unfortunately, disaster struck when the film began shooting in the Spring of 1988 in Los Angeles, when Davis had to take a break from filming after one week for dental surgery in New York – but she never returned to the set. Accounts differ from that point, with Davis claiming eight months later in the Los Angeles Times that she was displeased with the footage that had been shot: “I’m not a vain person. But at 80 years old I don’t want to look the way I looked. It could seriously be the end of anybody ever hiring me again.”Cohen’s side of the story begins when he saw Davis presenting at the Golden Globes (most likely the 1986 ceremony), according to a 2012 reminiscence for Film Comment, and he decided to write a part for her that would give her another spot in the limelight rather than being a fixture at award ceremonies. The two hit it off, and he claimed that the dental procedure had a much heavier toll than anticipated that ultimately led to her being unable to return to the production. Davis had made a physically limited but emotionally potent comeback in The Whales of August (1987) by the time the script was done, and she had also published a bestselling memoir, This ‘n That. Though her reps initially passed on the script, Turner Classic Movies’ own Robert Osborne lived in her building and passed it along to her directly. What started off as a harmonious production came to a swift end soon after the camera started rolling, with Davis appearing in TV interviews numerous times over the following year recalling her version of why she left.In the interim, Cohen did some reshuffling of the film to boost the role of Barbara Carrera, who had initially been cast as Davis’ conniving daughter Priscilla (also a witch). The solution to the film’s sudden, very public problem: turn Carrera into an alternate version of Davis’ character herself, also using cat transformations to rationalize the plot gaps and allow the film to be completed. A veteran of the Cohen-scripted I, the Jury (1982), the Nicaraguan-born actress ended up sharing equal poster space with Davis when the film opened on February 3, 1989, ultimately becoming more of a success on VHS when it hit home video a year later. For movie buffs, the film offered a chance to see Davis on the big screen again and get a chuckle out of a well-timed gag involving a photo of Stander’s previous wife, which we wouldn’t dream of spoiling. Davis would pass away later that same year on October 6, leaving behind a cinematic legacy filled with dramatic real-life twists and turns that, as it turned out, would extend to the film that would ultimately prove to be her swan song.

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States February 1989

Released in United States Winter February 1, 1989

Released in United States on Video November 14, 1989

Began shooting April 25, 1988.

Began shooting July 1, 1988.

Filming temporarily stopped in May 1988 due to Bette Davis's health.

Released in United States February 1989

Released in United States Winter February 1, 1989

Released in United States on Video November 14, 1989