It is officially National Parents’ Day weekend, and what better genre of films to watch with the individuals who made you than horror, right? Nothing says, “I love you, Mom and Dad” better than blood, gore, and all-out mayhem.
With that, we thought we’d help remind you of some of the best parents in horror movie history. These men and women 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 Parents Of All Time (and yes, we’re aware that technically, given the nature of the article, there are more than 25 people on this list).
25. Nick and Lily Laemle – Parents (1989)
Portrayed by: Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt
From the point of view of a child, the premise of Parents is simple: young Michael Laemle starts to suspect his parents are cannibals. The film is shot in a strange ‘50s retro kitsch world where Michael’s mother is the perfect housewife, and his father a hardworking supporter of the family. The All American dream with a nasty edge, for behind this facade of domestic bliss lies a dark secret.
For most of the film we’re never quite sure if this is all a child’s nightmare fantasy or reality. SPOILER ALERT: Yes, his parents indeed have a taste for human flesh. The film ends with Michael’s grandparents assuming his care. After placing him to bed, Michael’s grandfather leaves him a midnight snack consisting of a glass of milk and a suspicious looking sandwich, implying perhaps that his parents’ cannibalism was learned behavior. That’s not good.
24. Krug Stillo – The Last House On The Left (1972)
Portrayed by: David Hess
The level of violence is as shocking today as it was back in 1972 with the sick son of a gun Krug leading the mayhem as he vents his sadism on two teenage girls – Phyllis and Mari – along with his equally heinous acolytes Weasel and Sadie who are both perverted and violent deviants.
Krug is such a degenerate, he gets his own son, Junior, addicted to heroin so he can control him, and in the later stages of the proceedings, he goads him into shooting himself in the head – “BLOW YOUR BRAINS OUT!”. Imagine coercing your kid into suicide. The scum factor is off the charts. But we spy with our little eye a great big chainsaw coming to put an end to Krug’s reign of terror…
23. Freddy Krueger – Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
Portrayed by: Robert Englund
In what was supposed to be the final installment of the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise, about midway through, we are introduced to perhaps the lamest plot twist of all time. In The Final Nightmare it is revealed that dream-stalking Freddy has really been doing all this killing for all these movies to get revenge against the ones who took him from his daughter. Yup, Freddy has a daughter, apparently. Suddenly Freddy’s Dead turns into a tale about bad parenting.
Maggie has not seen her dad, Freddy, since she was a little girl. She was the one who told the authorities about her demented dad, which led to his arrest and his “death” by fire from a mob of angry citizens. He had, you see, strangled to death her mother after her mother found his secret murder room in the house. With that, the obvious question becomes: who would have thought that Freddy’s daughter would have grown up to be so hot?
22. Beverly Sutphin – Serial Mom (1994)
Portrayed by: Kathleen Turner
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 and deeper into madness as the story 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. It’s hysterical.
21. Amelia Vanek – The Babadook (2014)
Portrayed by: Essie Davis
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.
20. Mama – Mama (2013)
Portrayed by: Javier Botet
At the center of the supernatural tale Mama are two little blonde sisters, the watchful Victoria and the wee imp Lilly. In the tumultuous prologue, they’re kidnapped by their crazed father — he has just shot their mother — and on the verge of being murdered in an abandoned house in the middle of a snowbound forest when… well, what happens is in one way very, very good and in another very, very bad. Which is an excellent way to start a horror film. Our sympathies are confounded.
Five years on, the girls are discovered in that cabin by trackers hired by their uncle and are, at first, barely recognizable as human. They hiss and claw and scamper around on all fours. Lilly was barely a toddler when she entered that cabin and is particularly far gone. Whisked away, she calls out, “Mama.” And with that, an overly protective supernatural surrogate, who “raised” the children for all these years, follows the kids back to civilization. Deprived of her own child centuries ago, ghost Mama wants her babies back… and she’s willing to do just about anything to make that happen.
19. Nathan Grantham – Creepshow (1982)
Portrayed by: Jon Lormer and John Amplas
Seven years ago Nathan Grantham was murdered (just before he was to receive his annual Father’s Day cake) by his daughter. She got away with the crime and the family has come together on Father’s Day for their annual dinner.
Unfortunately for them, Grantham has a bone to pick and isn’t going to let a triviality like death get in the way. Rising from his grave, he picks off the very ‘80s cast one by one seeking to get the Father’s Day cake he missed out on seven years earlier. And it’s a glorious thing to behold.
18. Vera Cosgrove – Braindead (1992)
Portrayed by: Elizabeth Moody
There’s no doubt that Vera Cosgrove from Peter Jackson’s gore-soaked Braindead (aka Dead Alive) is a terrible mother. She endeavors to keep her meek son, Lionel, under her thumb by sabotaging his date at the zoo and is bitten by a rare Sumatran rat-monkey for her trouble. This turns her into a zombie, which doesn’t do wonders for either her relationship with her son or her parenting skills.
Arguably the most despicable character on this list, Vera has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The worst comes towards the end of the film, where Vera eats her son by ingesting him back into her womb. Blech.
17. Mother – Mother’s Day (1980)
Portrayed by: Beatrice Pons
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.
16. Chris Cleek – The Woman (2011)
Portrayed by: Sean Bridgers
On the outside, Chris Cleek seems like a good person. He has a devoted wife, three healthy kids, and just seems to be an all-around nice, family oriented guy. That image is quickly shattered when he comes across a feral woman bathing in a nearby river. He kidnaps her, and tells his family they’re going to take part in “civilizing” her.
First, he burns the woman with scalding hot water, then uses a high pressure power washer on her. He later sexually assaults the woman, and encourages his son to commit violent acts against her as well. It’s also implied that his own daughter is not exempt from his depravity. It’s interesting he dies when the woman rips out his heart, as you’d be forgiven for assuming that he didn’t have one to begin with. Truly, a grim man.
15. Jerry Blake – The Stepfather (1987)
Portrayed by: Terry O’Quinn
Jerry Blake just wants to live the American Dream – a house, a job, a wife and kids. Unfortunately, the man has some anger issues, so whenever his new family disappoints him, he explodes into violence. When we first meet him, he’s picking up the pieces after killing his current wife and stepchildren, casually stepping over their bodies in between changing his appearance and collecting his things. Then he moves to another town, starts looking for another widow to marry, and the cycle begins anew.
This is all reasonable enough, but the trouble with moving from city to city is that, sooner or later, someone will recognize you. And at all times, you have to keep your stories straight. If you get confused and give the wrong name, your wife will realize something is wrong faster than you can give her your thousand-yard stare.
14. Dad Meiks – Frailty (2001)
Portrayed by: Bill Paxton
Some kids grow up wishing they could have spent more time with their fathers, wishing there were more of a bond between them. But most people would prefer fishing, hunting, or perhaps working on cars with their dad… not murder. For brothers Adam and Fenton Meiks, killing “evil” becomes a shared hobby with their father.
Dad claims to his sons (shown in flashback, since the story is essentially told by an adult Fenton) that he has been told by God to hunt and kill demons whose names are to be provided to him by an angel. He says he can see the sins of whomever he touches, and when he kills a demon, he wears gloves, uses a pipe to knock them unconscious, and ultimately slays them with an ax he names “Otis.” Adam follows his father willingly in the crusade, but Fenton is sickened, leading Dad to conclude that Fenton might be a demon. As told in the story, Dad is eventually dealt with by one of his children, but the other decides to carry on his legacy. Like father, like son it seems.
13. Chucky and Tiffany Ray – Seed Of Chucky (2004)
Portrayed by: Brad Dourif and Jennifer Tilly
In the fifth entry of the Child’s Play franchise, Glen/Glenda is the plastic, genital-free spawn of everyone’s favorite killer dolls Tiffany and Chucky (birthed at the end of the previous film, Bride Of Chucky). Conflicted about gender, Glen(da) spends a good portion of the film wrestling with identity issues while the bodies pile up around the house.
Of course, as soon as Chucky learns that he has a son/daughter/whatever he pushes the young one hard to follow in his murderous footsteps – literally putting the knife in his hand. Tiffany, however, ultimately becomes the great mom we all knew she could be. Sure, it was tough for her to quit killing people and act like a good mother, but she did her best. Tiff’s 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.
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