With Mother’s Day today, it is only appropriate that we pay tribute to the worst mothers in cinema history. These mothers are evil to the point where Cinderella’s stepmother would blush. Not only did these mothers ruin the lives of their children, but they also turned some of them into cold-blooded killers with a terrible Oedipus complex. These mothers range from the visibly psychotic to unseen emotional terrors that haunt their children off-screen. Simply put, even if you don’t like your mother she still has to be better than any of the 10 women on this list.
10- “The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea” (1976): Sarah Miles plays Anne Osborne in the touching tale of a woman in desperate need to restore the pleasures of carnal knowledge in her life. Her wanton desires are fulfilled when she crosses paths with a sailor named Jim Cameron, played by Kris Kristofferson. The problem is that she seems to totally neglect her son, who is into some freaky things. He has a peephole that can see into his mother’s bedroom, and seems to be hanging out with a nasty crowd that enjoys performing heart surgery on cats. If only this mother would have stopped fooling around with Kristofferson long enough to see what her son was up to, maybe the horrific ending to this picture could have been prevented.
9- “Sleepaway Camp” (1983): Aunt Martha (Desiree Gold) has become a surrogate mother to poor Angela (Felissa Rose), but her personal issues with the opposite sex have severely damaged Angela’s psyche. And that is putting it mildly for anyone that has not seen this horror picture, which is a hidden gem in the exploitation world.
8- “Hellraiser” (1987): Julia (Clare Higgins) has chosen to have an affair with her dead, skinless brother-in-law (Sean Chapman), and when the daughter (Ashley Laurence) tries to expose this affair, her neck is on the line.
7- “Don’t Go in the House” (1980): The mother in this picture is never seen, but the psychological damage that has been done to Donny Kohler is from years of physical and mental damage. Dan Grimaldi excellently portrays Kohler, who desperately wants to be normal but never can be. He tries so hard, but can’t stop the murderous rage he has toward women, and what he does to them in his basement is unspeakable.
6- “Friday the 13th” (1980): Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) seems to blame everyone for the death of her son, even people that weren’t working at the summer camp when he died there. She needs severe counseling and to come with terms with her grief, but she did love her son. However, can you imagine what an annoying mother she must have been? Maybe Jason’s accidental drowning was actually done on purpose to escape this overbearing mother.
5- “Schoolgirls in Chains” (1973): Greta Gaylord plays a woman that loves her sons, maybe a little more than the laws of civilized society permit.
4- “Mother’s Day” (1980): Beatrice Pons plays the mother from hell in Charles Kaufman’s small slice of B-movie heaven. To kill time and boredom, her and her two sons abduct women that they torture before brutally murdering. Pons delivers a high camp performance of a mother that trained her kids to become rapists/killers. Does Hallmark have a card for that type of mother?
3- (Tie) “Psycho” (1960)/ “Maniac” (1980): While the films are 20 years apart, they have one common factor: Both Norman Bates and Frank Zito have suffered severe psychological damage from their mothers. The latter film deals with the murders in a much more violent sense, where the Hitchcock classic delivers thrills to the mind. People to this day still swear you can see the knife go into the woman in the shower scene, and those mind games Hitchcock played with the audience is why he is the Master of Suspense.
2- “Carrie” (1976): Piper Laurie received an Academy Award nomination for her performance as Margaret White, the mother from hell in this classic from Stephen King and Brian De Palma classic. White taught her daughter that anything involving men or sexuality is a sin, and on top of that, she didn’t even teach her daughter about the birds and the bees.
1- “Mommie Dearest” (1981): All the movies on this list have one thing in common, and that is that they are works of fiction. That’s why the number-one spot belongs to a real-life monster named Joan Crawford. Faye Dunaway gives a performance that is high camp all the way, except you can’t help but realize it is based on a child’s experience. Her temper seems to be set off by all the little things, including wire hangers and baby powder on the bathroom floor. This movie strongly destroyed Crawford’s reputation. Can anyone still watch one of her movies without thinking of what a monster she is?
Here’s to a happy and safe Mother’s Day for all the mothers reading this list, and remember that if your child has a wire hanger, let it go. It’s no big deal.