If you're a fan of camp-horror film, you've probably seen the 1975 classic "The Stepford Wives." The frilly-apron-clad, girdle-cinched title characters were uberhausfraus -- creepy, robotic paragons of domesticity -- whose presence signaled recently arrived feminist neighbors to beware: Something was very, very wrong in suburban New York.
Later this week, a Frank Oz-directed remake -- set in the present day and billed as a comedy -- arrives in theaters, starring Nicole Kidman and Bette Midler. What better time, I thought, to host a "Stepford" screening. It was the perfect excuse for a party, and my friends and I needed to bone up before catching the new version.
My celebration of suburban servitude centered on that '70s-era dinnertime staple: the no-fuss casserole. It makes so many appearances in the film, it nearly warrants a credit. I selected a ritzy crab and artichoke number, ideally suited to the upscale denizens of Stepford, featuring a variant of crab imperial sauce. Don't be shy about adding extra cayenne and paprika; their intensity dissipates once the sauce is drizzled over layers of crab and sauteed mushrooms. A liberal dose of grated parmesan on top adds a salty zing.
Since outfits figure so prominently in the film, I entreated guests to dress up. To go over the ladies' frocks we ordered frilly aprons off eBay, and the gents arrived in sport coats, turtlenecks and jumbo-wingspan collars. Entranced by the film and overwhelmed by the tastiness of my dish, my friends chanted alongside robowife Carol Van Sant when her wiring went awry at a garden party. Again and again, the women and men begged, "I'll die if I don't get this recipe." What more could a hostess want?