Horror Favourites – Rolfe Kanefsky

Although Rolfe Kanefsky has been writing and directing movies for over thirty years in multiple genres, this is the first time he has both written and directed a Lifetime thriller with POOL BOY NIGHTMARE.

We reached out to him to tell us all about it and his favourite horror film.

Pool Boy Nightmare is a sexy suspense thriller about Gale (Jessica Morris, Art of the Dead) a divorced woman and her 18 year old daughter, Becca (Ellie-Darcey Alden, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2) who have just moved into a new home that comes with a beautiful pool in the back yard.

Gale hires Adam (Tanner Zagarino, son of action star Frank Zagarino, in his film debut), a local pool boy who used to work for the previous owner, Rhonda (Sarah French, Automation) who died in a “freak drowning” accident.
Turns out that Adam has a thing for older women and has a fling with Gale. Knowing she made a mistake, Gale ends the affair quickly but Adam is a very determined young man. He starts dating Becca, Gale’s daughter, to make Gale jealous.

As the twisted love triangle heats up, danger also mounts since Adam will do just about anything to get the woman he wants! As Jackie, Becca’s best friend (Cynthia Aileen Strahan, Art of the Dead) and Gale’s ex-husband, Tony (Clark Moore, Stumptown) soon discover, Adam is not only obsessed but very dangerous! In the end, nobody is safe from this POOL BOY NIGHTMARE!

Rolfe has worked in the Lifetime world for years, having authored the productions of “WATCH YOUR BACK” aka “KILLER PHOTO” starring AnnaLynne McCord, “DEADLY SORORITY” with Greer Grammar and Moira Kelly, as well as “STALKED BY MY PATIENT”, “DEADLY VOWS” and “THE WRONG BABYSITTER” starring Daphne Zuniga.

Being a big fan of classic television thrillers from the ’70s and ’80s, Rolfe saw this as an opportunity to embrace the feel that Steven Spielberg created with his first television movies like “DUEL” and “SOMETHING EVIL” as well as Dan Curtis’ classics “THE NIGHT STRANGLER”, “TRILOGY OF TERROR” and “DEAD OF NIGHT”.


Below Rolfe Kanefsky takes us through his favourite horror film The Stepfather:

“So, the problem with asking a real horror movie fan what their favorite horror movie is, there is never just one. There are so many different types of horror movies for so many different occasions depending on mood. It really comes down to which one comes to mind at the time the question is asked.

“For me and for right now, I’m going to go with one that I’ve always loved since I first saw it and has constantly come back as a major inspiration for me in a lot of my own work in the genre.

“Many times a horror film and one’s appreciation of it depends on the time you saw it, your age, and your expectations or lack thereof. There are the ones you’ve heard are great and then you can be disappointed and then there are the ones you know nothing about and are surprised by how amazing they are. Those ‘sleeper discoveries’ can easily become your favorite because you found them yourself without anyone telling you to see it or how great it is.

“One of my favs is the still underrated psycho classic Joseph Ruben 1987 flick, “THE STEPFATHER”. Due to a lot of recent work in the Lifetime arena, including my upcoming “POOL BOY NIGHTMARE”, “The Stepfather” seemed to be the perfect film to get some more love and attention at this time. It has not only majorly influenced my work in the thriller genre but I have constantly referenced this movie in my other horror flicks as well. You can find shades of “The Stepfather” in my movies, “The Black Room”, “Art Of The Dead”, and others.

“I first discovered this film in the theaters. It didn’t play long but I went by myself to the movies one afternoon and saw the poster of a man staring back at his own reflection in the bathroom mirror but he was different in the reflection.

“Writing in the steam on the glass were the words, “Who Am I Here?” That was all I knew about the film. I had never heard of it and didn’t recognize any of the actors names on the poster. It was pretty much a blind choice.

“The theater had very few people in it but from the opening scene, which is quite the grabber, I was hooked. By the end, I loved the movie. The fact that it was based on a real story made it even more horrifying. It is a roller-coaster of thrills, suspense and one of the most tense stalker endings ever! Even though he’s not wearing a mask, Terry O’Quinn performance as Jerry Blake aka “The Stepfather” is phenomenal and I think easily rivals (and beats) Jack Nicholson in “The Shining”.
Plus, the moment when, as clued in the poster, “Who Am I Here?” actually occurs in the film, it’s a terrifying and jump-inducing scare.

“Now a good movie needs a good story and this one has an amazing script by Donald E. Westlake based on a story by Brian Garfield. If those names ring a bell, they should. Garfield wrote the original novels that “Death Wish”, and “Death Sentence” were based on.
Westlake is responsible for more crime stories like “Point Blank”, “The Split”, “The Hot Rock” and “The Grifters” than one can count. These two are well-equipped to provide plenty of smart thrills and chills. And then there’s the director, Joseph Ruben, who I’ve been a fan of since I first saw “Dreamscape”.

“He went on to make “Sleeping With The Enemy”, “The Good Son”, and “The Forgotten” in this suspense genre. “The Stepfather” is still his best!

“Of course, having a great villain is crucial in a horror thriller but one also needs a hero(ine) you can root for and the adorable cute and smart Jill Schoelen is the perfect protagonist for the movie.

“Playing Stephanie, a rebellious 16 year old who suspects her soon-to-be stepfather is not exactly who he seems, Jill nails the role bringing heart, spunk and yes, sex appeal to the show. Jill should be known by many horror fans because she is one of the unsung “Scream Queens” of all time who rarely gets mentioned but just watch her performances in Wes Craven’s “Chiller”, “Cutting Class”, “Curse II: The Bite”, “The Phantom Of The Opera” with Robert England, “Popcorn” and one of my other horror favorites, “When A Stranger Calls Back”, you’ll see she well deserves the honor. The scene where Stephanie goes down into the basement to get some ice cream and accidentally stumbles upon Jerry “having a moment” is hair-inducing scary.

“Every time I watch it, I get the chills. And then there’s the climax. You’ve seen this scene countless times before but it is so effective, smart, and tense, the few members in the audience were screaming and leaping from their seats! I’ll always love the “sled” moment in the attic. Although the film only played on the big screen for maybe a week and a half, I went to see it FOUR times in the theater during its release and dragged everyone I knew to watch it! There was never a big crowd but all who went had a great time.
Also, every screening, when Jerry is deciding what knife he should use to kill his family and the little dog goes running to him, the audience screamed, “No! Not the dog! Don’t kill the dog!!!” It’s funny that they cared more for the dog’s life than the humans in the fillm.

“Anyway, “The Stepfather” has lost none of its impact all these years and if you watch Lifetime movies, it is the staple example for over half of these produced films to this day.
What really makes this movie exceptional is how much you LIKE Jerry Blake. Even though, from the opening, you know he’s psychotic and deadly, you root for him not to lose his cool. He is such a nice guy and trying so hard to find the perfect family. Unfortunately as the tag line states, “they couldn’t measure up… and neither could the others”.

“It is easy to play crazy or evil in a movie but to be so likable at the same time, is what makes for a terrifying character. I put Anthony Perkins in “Psycho” and Billy Zane in “Dead Calm” on this same level of excellence and, (self-plug) if you see Tanner Zagarino (in his acting debut) as Adam in my “Pool Boy Nightmare”, you’ll see the nods to all these great performances in his portrayal as well.

“The Stepfather” has received two sequels and even a remake over the years but none come close to the original. See it and I bet you’ll like it. I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t. A true gem in the genre.”

POOL BOY NIGHTMARE premieres on The Lifetime Channel on Labor Day, Monday, September 7th at 8:00 pm as part of their “End Of The Summer Marathon”. It plays again later that night and the following Sunday, September 13th at 7:00 pm and throughout the month. Check your local listings for showtimes and airings. Visit MyLifetime.


Alex Humphrey

Alex studied film at the University of Kent and went on to work for Universal Pictures in their Post Room gaining an inside look at the movie industry from the very bottom. Constantly writing reviews in everything from local magazines to Hip Hop sites Alex honed his critical skills even spending a brief period as a restaurant critic. Read more

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