Happy Mother’s Day! Let this poster be a message to you, don’t forget to call your mom! (Or Else) Here are ten of our favorite horror movie moms, for good or EVIL!
It’s time to celebrate the person who brought you into this world. Fed you, read you bedtime stories, and tucked you in at night. And then, when you weren’t looking, snuck up with a knife into your room and… wait, no, maybe that wasn’t your experience. For some of the moms in these movies that WAS the case.
These movies feature moms at their best. Sometimes that means they are stalwart paragons against all that would threaten their kid. Sometimes they are a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. And sometimes they happen to be fifteen feet tall and made mostly out of chitin and teeth. That said, here are some of The Scariest Things favorite moms in horror movies.
10. Diane Freeling (JoBeth Williams) in Poltergeist (1984) The horror hero mom personified. Momma bear isn’t going to let some evil ghost spirits mess with her family, and she FIGHTS! Fear takes a back seat to mom power, as she rescues her kids over and over in this all-time classic. Previous generations of films would have the dad do all the hero work, not this time! (Though it’s not as if Craig T. Nelson was sitting down on the job)
9. Kathy (Zoe Kazan) In The Monster (2016) The mom redeemed. Kathy is a hot mess of a mom. She’s selfish, a narcissist, and inattentive to her daughter’s hopes and desires. But when a savage forest creature puts the pair of them in danger, she finds inner courage and inner-mom strength to fight for her child. This sleeper movie is worth the price of rental for the dynamic between mother and daughter, and the character arcs that the monster forces them through.
8. The Other Mother (Voiced by Teri Hatcher) in Coraline (2009) The false mother. Coraline’s spooky other-universe mother is much worse than she imagined, and the spider-mom version is about as scary a children’s movie has to offer. Makes Ursula and Maleficent look cuddly by comparison. Plus, those button eyes. So creepy!
7. Chris MacNeil (Ellyn Burstyn) in The Exorcist (1972) The good mother, overwhelmed. Chris has it tough, being a single professional mom in the 1970’s. And then her daughter Regan starts behaving oddly, and then demonically. Somewhat more passive than the other moms on this list, remember that Burstyn anchors this movie, giving it a central pivot point, and Burstyn was perfect in that role. Burstyn was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her role as the mother overrun by supernatural events.
6. Amelia Vanek (Essie Davis) in The Babadook (2014) Motherhood and melancholy. Ushering in the smart, character based horror of the current era, Amelia is a complex and tormented soul. Wracked by grief over the loss of her husband, and saddled with a twitchy and antisocial little son, her fears and depression are borne out in the form of The Babadook in this landmark performance.
5. Adelaide Wilson/Red (Lupita Nyong’o) in Us (2019) Nyong’o does double duty here, playing the nervous, but loving mother Adelaide, and her alternative universe lunatic alter ego, Red. The core of the movie is the family bond, and both versions of Adelaide/Red are the alphas of their packs.
4. Annie Graham (Toni Collette) in Hereditary (2018) I am YOUR MOTHER! Full stop. Toni Collette is a mother battling demons internal and external, finding it awfully difficult to be a mother under the curse of madness and possession. A Powerful and unforgettable performance, which should have landed Collette at least an Oscar Nomination.
3. The Alien Queen and Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in Aliens (1987) It’s mom vs. mom! Q: Leave my baby alone! R: No, YOU leave MY babies alone! Q: You know, that’s not really your kid, right? R: Oh yeah? (FLAMETHROWER) Q: NOOOOOO! My babies! I’m a gonna kill you! RAAAAA!!!
Something like that.
2. Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) in Rosemary’s Baby (1968) Satan’s mom. This movie turns the idea of motherhood on its head. It puts the greatest joy in your life to the biggest dread in your life, and motherhood wins out. Sort of. Makes you wonder what the parent-teacher conferences would be like. “Mrs. Woodhouse? Your son, he’s having problems being disruptive in class. He’s killing all the other students.”
1. Pamela Voorhees (Betsty Palmer) in Friday the 13th The mom as a mass murderer. OK, this isn’t the best performance. It’s far from the best movie. But admit it, this is THE mom revenge movie at its core, right? You did my boy wrong! Now you all have to die! That’s called looking out for your kid. The movie, at the time, did a great job keeping the mystery of who the killer was. And it WASN’T Jason, for all of you young ‘uns who only know of Jason Vorhees.
OK. Now, go call your mom! I promise you, she won’t have a knife. Did you remember to send flowers? No? Well, maybe you’ll want to watch out for the knife after all.