The Stepford Wives ★★★

The term a "Stepford Wife" is possibly more famous than the source material itself. It's synonymous with cookie cutter suburbia and the 50's idealized American housewife that is viewed as unnatural and fake to the modern woman. It's pretty great that this ultra 70's sci-fi/horror movie made such an impact of the cultural vernacular and being such a feminist piece. When mother of two, Joanna (Katharine Ross) and her lawyer husband Walter (Peter Masterson) move out of the city to start a new life in the quiet, affluent town of Stepford right off the bat, things seem off. The film is never really scary but maintains an underlying feeling of dread as Joanna witnesses the transformation of normal, free thinking women into subordinate, pristine homemakers. Considering Joanna doesn't have a career but a budding interest in photography it's encouraging to see her drive and passion such as wanting to start a women's group in the town or be at least a productive member of society while the men want to keep those like her in the house serving only their needs. The horror really comes from the power of the white patriarchy which is still the most unnerving part of our existence.

It's fascinating watching this to see where Frank Oz drew his inspiration to turn this into a broad comedy. It's definitely an outrageous scenario, that of switching out men's nagging wives into sex pot house slaves. Maybe more importantly, he trims the fat of this almost 2-hour movie into less than 90 minutes (if you subtract credits). Additionally the conclusion while terrifically bleak and eerie left me with numerous questions that the remake attempts to explain, expanding backstory and extra plot twists. This Stepford Wives lays some good groundwork but just like the women, could use some improvement.