Horror Movie Review: Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator (1989)

A horror comedy, sort of. In that it doesn’t have much in the way of horror or comedy. Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator is one of the most confusingly titled movies ever. While one of the main characters is called Stephanie, an incinerator never comes into it.

To add even more confusion to what you’re watching, the VHS cover grossly overestimates what you’re about to watch and seeing Troma was involved means absolutely nothing. They distributed it but did not have a hand in making it. So if you’re hoping for the Troma brand of insanity with lashings of gore and nudity, you’re going to be very disappointed.

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That being said, Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator is insane but not for the reasons you might expect. Writer/director/producer Don Nardo seemingly wanted to create something akin to a fever dream when it came to storytelling and it certainly comes across like mad ramblings.

The movie opens where we see an air-plane mechanic named Paul (William Dame) grabbed by some thugs who mug him for his wedding ring. He is then kidnapped and then wakes up in a lavish looking house. Here he meets Stephanie (Catherine Dee) and Roberta (M.R. Murphy). The former is a young and pretty woman while the latter appears to be a man dressing as a woman. It’s really obvious yet isn’t played for laughs as she tells Paul that he is their guest and she wishes for him to have sex with Stephanie while she watches.

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He is interested in the first part, not so much the second. Roberta tells him there is no escape and he will do as she pleases. She isn’t wrong either as events transpire which sees Paul and Stephanie spend the night together. Unknown to them, this was the plan all along and Roberta watched from afar. She reveals she enjoyed his performance and wants to experience it for herself. This is too much for Paul but on threat of Stephanie’s life he agrees to do it.

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As they lean in for a kiss, the first of Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator’s surprises is revealed.

It’s all a game. An elaborate game of play acting created by Paul (whose actual name is Jared) for his amusement. The charade drops away to reveal he is married to Stephanie (actually called Casey) and Roberta was a man (Robert), someone they hired.

The couple are very rich and these games seem to be the only thing that amuses Jared anymore. Not so much his wife though who has grown to hate them and him too. He’s the one with the money though so she dare not leave him. If only there was some way to get rid of Jared….

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The first narrative shift might seem jarring but it is actually surprisingly welcome as the first third of the film is so meandering. You’re constantly waiting for something interesting to happen and it just never does. Then when it does, we enter a more traditional story.  Casey plans a way to murder her husband all while he disappears further into his fantasies.

Then just when everything is playing out clearly, we get one final shift that is actually jarring. It’s nonsensical and makes you feel like you’ve wasted the last 80 minutes of your time. I won’t spoil it for you but it makes your investment of the story wasted.

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I get the impression that this movie is supposed to be more like a play. Split into acts with the cast playing several roles over several scenes. That explains the overuse of classical instruments with music that seems completely out of place at times.

It’s easy to admire the attempt to make Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator something a little different but everything about it before you actually watch screams cheesy silliness. That’s not what we get at all as the film is serious to the point of sourness and if there were jokes, they went straight past me. Maybe the comedy element is the absurdity of it all? If so then the joke is on all of us.

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  • Carl Fisher

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Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator
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