Mother’s Day is once again upon us, and what better genre of films to watch with the woman who helped make you than horror, right? Nothing says, “I love you, Mom” better than blood, gore, and all-out mayhem.
With that, we thought we would help remind you of some of the best mothers in horror movie history. These woman are all wonderful in their own way and cover the entire spectrum; from psychotic killers to heroes and everything in between. This is the 25 Greatest Horror Movie Moms Of All Time.
25. Alysson Paradis as Sarah Scarangelo – Inside (2007)
Four months before Christmas, Sarah and Matthieu Scarangelo were in a car crash, of which Sarah and her unborn baby were the only survivors. On Christmas Eve, Sarah stays home alone, where she grieves her husband and prepares to go to the hospital the next morning for the delivery. As night falls, a woman knocks on Sarah’s door asking to use the phone. When she refuses, the woman reveals that she knows Sarah and tries to force her way in. Sarah calls the police; they inspect the home and determine the woman has left, but promise to keep watch over Sarah through the night. The woman returns and tries to take Sarah’s unborn child, but Sarah locks herself in the bathroom. The strange woman torments Sarah through the night and kills all who try help her.
All in all, Sarah holds up quite well for a woman who’s nine months pregnant. Well, she holds up well for a really long time. But our mysterious antagonist, known only as La Femme, is simply too much to withstand, and Sarah’s motherhood is sadly short-lived.
24. Jordan Ladd as Madeline Matheson – Grace (2009)
Some mothers like to hang twirling mobile butterfly things above their baby’s crib. New mom Madeline Matheson would like that for diddums, but instead she’s forced to hang up twirling rolls of sticky paper from the ceiling to keep off the flies. That’s what happens when you give birth to a still born baby that returns to life, and instead of milk, craves blood.
Grace capitalizes on the notion of children as parasites both inside and outside the womb. How many times have we heard mothers tell their older children “I’ve given you the best years of my life” as they complain about lost youth and their figures? These kinds of sacrifices are made into the subject of horror, as Madeline realizes what she must do (i.e. kill, dismember and liquefy human flesh) in order to feed her child. Now that’s dedication.
23. Nicole Kidman as Grace Stewart – The Others (2001)
Grace Stewart lives an isolated life in a big house as she waits for her husband to return from the war. Her two children, Anne and Nicholas have a rare condition in which light causes terrible sores on their skin and could even kill them. Hence they cannot go outside and every room they are in can only be lit by candles. Every door is locked to make sure they cannot be accidentally exposed to light.
Grace is a very strict Roman Catholic and does not believe her children when they tell her the house is haunted. As it turns out, however, it is Grace and her children that are the ghosts. Alone and grief stricken Grace went mad and smothered her children, killing herself when she realized what she had done. Those “haunting” the house are in fact the living who occasionally intrude on the spirit world. Sheesh.
22. Desiree Gould as Martha Thomas – Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Young Angela Baker has had a very traumatic childhood. Her father, John, and brother, Peter, are killed by a reckless motorboat driver in 1975. Instead of being raised by her father’s boyfriend Lenny, Angela is raised along side her cousin Ricky, by her divorcee and overly eccentric aunt, Dr. Martha. Years later, Angela and Ricky are sent away to a sleepaway camp called Camp Arawak, but not before an awkward interaction with Aunt Martha, who seems very detached from reality as she hands them their physicals with instructions not to tell them where they got them.
A series of obligatory murders take place at the camp: In the end, Angela is discovered holding one of the camper’s severed heads while standing naked, revealing herself to not only be the killer, but also that “she” has a penis, and is in fact Peter, her brother believed to be dead. That’s right. Martha already had a son, and desperately wanted a daughter, so she raised Peter to be his dead twin, Angela. As suspected, Martha is a total nut job. Poor kids.
21. Catherine Hicks as Karen Barclay – Child’s Play (1988)
Birthday shopping for a young boy is difficult business (well, not really, but let’s pretend that it is). Karen Barclay knows this all too well. Her son Andy is turning 6 and he doesn’t want Transformers or a Lite-Brite. Nope! He has his sights set on a Good Guy doll. However, as the dolls are much too expensive, she ends up purchasing a doll at half-price from a peddler in an alley. Too bad this particular doll is possessed by the soul of serial killer Charles Lee Ray (aka “The Lakeshore Strangler”).
As the inevitably and unexplained murders begin to rack up, Karen must come to grips with what her son has been telling her – that this doll isn’t what it seems. The crowning moment goes to Chucky when he first bursts into life as Karen threatens to throw him into the fire. His friendly facade is stripped away and he assaults her with an explosion of obscenities, followed by bites and scratches like a wild animal. Maybe she should have just bought her son a Teddy Ruxpin instead.
20. Jennifer Tilly as Tiffany – Seed Of Chucky (2004)
Who says your child has to be flesh and blood to be a super mom? 1998’s Bride Of Chucky paired our favorite killer doll Chucky with Tiffany, a former lover and accomplice who brings Chucky back to life only to be killed herself (at the hands of Chucky) and have her soul put into a doll.
It wasn’t until Seed Of Chucky that Tiffany officially became the great mom we all knew her to be. Sure, it was tough for her to quit killing people and act like a good mother, but she did her best. Tiff’s Glen/Glenda baby inspired the bloodthirsty plastic babe to go on the straight and narrow, but living a good life while trying to co-exist with Chucky is pretty much impossible, and Mama Tiff finds this out. Although she does manage to find her escape in the end.
19. Kathleen Turner as Beverly Sutphin – Serial Mom (1994)
Beverly Sutphin, on the surface, appears to be a happy housewife living in suburbia with her family. The truth, however, is that she has uncontrollable homicidal impulses that rise to the surface whenever anybody does something she doesn’t approve of. We’re not talking about serious offenses either; We’re talking about things like chewing gum or somebody not wanting to date her daughter. It’s absolutely hilarious watching Beverly descend deeper into madness as the film progresses.
Indeed, Beverly’s killings begin to snowball and eventually she is arrested and her trial becomes a national sensation with the media dubbing her “serial mom.” And although a statement says that the events of the film are true, it is in fact complete fiction. The film even ends with a close-up of Beverly’s iniquitous smile and a caption stating that Beverly “refused to cooperate” with the making of the film.
18. Dee Wallace as Donna Trenton – Cujo (1983)
When a mother and her child are put into a horrific situation, it definitely seems to make for a much more compelling story, because there is a lot more at stake for the characters, and the audience. In the film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Cujo, Donna Trenton shows us her motherly dedication when she and her young son Tad are trapped in a hot car with a rabid dog outside, preventing them from easy escape.
There’s nothing all that remarkable or interesting about Donna when the audience first meets her. She is a normal housewife and mother, often very quiet and unobtrusive. But there’s definitely something going on beneath the surface. Donna doesn’t seem depressed or unhappy, but rather just bored and directionless with the life she has built with her husband. This is why she has been having an affair with the “local stud,” Steve Kemp; however, even this doesn’t really fulfill her. It only leaves her with feelings of guilt. The audience needs all this backstory to understand the biggest part of Donna’s character arc – her realization that she has been taking her family for granted. A lesson that many mothers could do best to learn as well.
17. Laurie Metcalf as Mrs. Loomis (aka Debbie Salt) – Scream 2 (1997)
“Was that a negative, disparaging remark about my son? About my Billy? It’s not wise to patronize me with a gun, Sidney! Randy spoke poorly of Billy and I got a little knife-happy.”
What is so great about Mrs. Loomis in Wes Craven’s first Scream sequel is that she only kills two people in the entirety of her slasher career. She is the ultimate criminal mastermind: smart, determined and sane (that last one is her word, not ours). She played her accomplice Mickey like a fool, and had the simplest motive out of all of the Ghostface killers: “good old fashioned revenge” for her son Billy’s murder. Some people may have felt underwhelmed by her reveal, but the whole “Debbie Salt is actually Billy’s mother” twist is arguably the most successful killer reveal the series has ever done. Plus, she’s played by Aunt Jackie from Roseanne! And she gives some great crazy eyes.
16. Rose Ross as Mother – Mother’s Day (1980)
Three female friends head to the woods to remember their collegiate good times, all the while with no idea that they’re being hunted by a dysfunctional hillbilly family. Mother is teaching her backwoods boys how to rape, torture and kill young women – and her adept pupils are more than willing to practice their lessons.
After capturing the three women, the two mad brothers act like giddy children on Christmas morning, “Can we open’em now, Ma… can we open’em now?!” They treat the ladies like living toys; not just to be played with, but to be beaten, raped, and humiliated all for the enjoyment of their dementedly domineering mother who has a front row seat to the savagery. Yup! Mom may keep the blood off her hands, but we can still see the crazy written all over her face.
15. Karen Black as Mother Firefly – House Of 1000 Corpses (2003)
Rob Zombie’s directorial debut was a soupy vomitorium of colorful and disparate horror imagery. In the film, a group of city-dwelling twenty-somethings are kidnapped by an evil tribe of family-minded mutants and hicks, who force them to dress in bunny costumes, feed them human flesh, kill some of them, sew their bodies to fish (!), and end up feeding any random survivors to the blood-soaked cyborg named Dr. Satan.
Over the course of the film, we get to know the psychos much better than any of their victims. We meet Otis, his comely sister Baby, the clown-faced Captain Spaulding, and the giant mute oaf they keep in the basement. Leading up the pack of misfits and murderers is the voluptuous horror of Mother Firefly, a woman who not only enjoys violence, but openly condones and encourages her brood to do likewise. House Of 1000 Corpses is essentially a stylized retread of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with a tilting surrealism, and a spooky mom heading up the pack.
14. Barbara Hershey as Carla Moran – The Entity (1982)
Hard-working single mother Carla Moran is the victim of a violent rape and further sexual assault by an unseen force in her own home, while her three children also suffer from disturbing paranormal activity. Carla seeks help from a psychiatrist who believes that Carla is unconsciously causing the attacks on herself, while Carla also encounters a team of parapsychologists who believe they can help rid her of the entity.
Simply put, Carla works so well as a character because of the ability to evoke huge audience sympathy for her plight, managing to stay strong-willed for the sake of her children, and eventually doing anything in her power to stop this evil thing from entering her life. This woman just can’t seem to catch a break.
13. Essie Davis as Amelia Vanek – The Babadook (2014)
Amelia has been living a rough life for the last few years. On the way to the hospital to give birth to her son, Samuel, she is in a fatal car wreck that kills her husband, leaving her all alone to raise their child. As Samuel gets older he begins displaying erratic behavior: he rarely sleeps through the night, and is constantly preoccupied with an imaginary monster, which he has built weapons to fight. Amelia becomes visibly resentful of her child the more seemingly fanatical he becomes.
The audience can only watch in horror as Amelia is swallowed up by anguish at her husband’s death, slowly becoming the monster she fears. Her grief becomes so huge, so all-encompassing that it takes on a life of its own and becomes the titular monster. It’s only by finally facing down her own fears – of living without her husband, of being an inadequate mother – that she is able to tame the beast… and have it live relatively peacefully in her basement, naturally. After all, you can’t get rid of The Babadook.