I was supposed to post this on Mothers Day but I was too busy hanging out with my momma.
Moms have one job, protect their children. There’s a reason why you’re not supposed to mess with women with offspring. Ever heard of mama bears? Hell hath no fury like a pissed-off mum! Now, most moms are good moms, but all moms have the potential to be scary. If you manage to survive their wrath, these terrifying ladies of horror will keep you in therapy for years.
10. Mama/Spirit – Mama, 2013
Mama is a vengeful spirit who doesn’t know how to let go. When she finds two children alone in the woods after a tragic accident, she cares for them, in the only backwoods way that a dark, scary cursed ghost can. Years later, the girls are finally rescued and sent to live with their father’s twin brother and his wife, but unfortunately, Mama is not okay with the new living arrangements. It’s unfortunate this movie tried so hard to be twisty because the plot only ended up in knots, but at its heart, this is a classic ghost story with solid jump scares.
9. Mommy – The People Under the Stairs, 1991
There’s just so much crazy here, it’s hard to know where to begin. A couple (who are really brother and sister), live in a fantasy world, where they keep mutilated cannibalistic people locked up in the basement. Those are the titular characters, discarded bad children that didn’t fit in with the family’s horrifying facade. It all goes to hell when the couple’s latest daughter, wise to their weirdness, rescues a young thief after he breaks into their little house of horrors. Not Wes Craven’s best, but also, not his worst.
8. Nola – The Brood, 1979
After years of abuse by an alcoholic mother, rage-filled Nola undergoes an experimental treatment called ‘psychoplasma’, which turns afflictions of the mind into physical manifestations of the body. Every patient is different but in Nola’s case, her body creates cysts containing embryos, and she essentially gives birth to violent Gollum-like children who do her bidding whenever she feels threatened. Nice defense mechanism, it’s just too bad Nola has grown out of control and kidnapped her daughter, forcing ex-hubby and her doctor team up to rescue the child. This is one of David Cronenberg’s better sci-fi horrors, with a brilliantly cast Samantha Eggers playing the tortured Nola and Oliver Reed as her concerned doctor.
7. Vera Cosgrove – Dead Alive or Braindead, 1992
Years before his magnum opus, Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson was just another fledgling director, elbows deep in fake blood and saturated hamburger meat. This gruesome splatter film is an effective metaphorical story of a young man named Lionel, trying to get out from under the strangling thumb of his meddling, overprotective mother. When Vera is bitten by an infected Sumatran rat-monkey, she succumbs to her disease, only to rise again with a very peculiar new dietary plan. If Lionel thought his mama was disagreeable while she was alive, being undead didn’t improve her disposition any.
6. Mother – Mother’s Day, 2010
Unless you’re looking for textbook exploitation horror, don’t bother with Troma’s original Mother’s Day from 1980, which is an awful movie to watch, not just because of the rape and violence, but it’s a truly terrible script with horrible acting. By contrast, the 2010 version starring Rebecca De Mornay is much better, still bad, but solid, not-for-the-squeamish, B horror schlock. De Mornay’s chilling and sadistic performance as the villainous Mother is reason alone to watch.
5. Annie – Hereditary, 2018
Toni Collette is superb as a grieving mother named Annie, who has spent most of her life protecting her children from her own crazy mother, who seems to be reaching out from beyond the grave to continue to afflict pain and suffering on her family. Is Annie losing it or did Grandma have some seriously nefarious plans cooked up? Anyone who understands just how hard is to overcome years of psychological torture of grandeur expectations set down upon you by a parent will appreciate this slow burn.
4. Le Femme – Inside, 2007
Le Femme stalks a pregnant woman, tries to steal her baby, and kills off anyone who tries to help the poor woman. Once hailed as the best of French Cinema’s new wave of horror, this sick and twisted gorefest is torture porn at its finest, consider this your warning. But, if you can stomach the copious amounts of blood and uber-violence, it’s a disturbing but good story about fighting to protect your unborn child. I don’t know if Le Femme is cut out for motherhood, but somebody’s gonna need some serious therapy by the time this is all over.
3. Norma Bates – Psycho, 1960
A great debate in horror has been raging for nearly 60 years, on who exactly is responsible for the deaths in the movie Psycho, the dutiful but slightly twisted son or the domineering abusive mother? Taking into consideration, the social norms and taboos of cinema at the time, the original Psycho wasn’t just shocking because of the physical violence, which supposedly repulsed many moviegoers into walking out of the theater, but because it was one of the first movies to start a discussion about how mental illness, supposedly brought upon by a mother’s abuse and neglect, can drive innocent men to do horrible things. The fear is all too real when it’s familiar.
2. Margaret White – Carrie, 1979
What would drive a seemingly smart, sweet, sensitive, teen girl to flip out and kill half her high school with her unchecked telekinetic powers? Well, first, try her fanatical oppressive abusive mother who frequently beats her with bibles and locks her in closets for asking why the mother refused to tell her about menstruation. If you ask me, religious zealots are the very devils they preach about.
1. Ms. Pamela Voorhees – Friday the 13th, 1980
All you need to create the most recognizable horror icon in history is a mother’s love, her psychopathic need for vengeance, a dozen horny, wildly irresponsible college kids, one beat up old hockey mask, and some creepy ki ki ki ma ma ma-ing. Jason Voorhees may have drowned in Camp Crystal Lake, but thanks to mom’s bloodlust, that dude will live forever.