Friday, January 18, 2013

Horror's 10 Scariest Mamas

Universally, children crave love and attention from their mothers, but sometimes a mother's love can be the most frightening thing in the world.

Opening this week, Mama -- the highly-anticipated Guillermo del Toro-produced supernatural horror film -- will hit theatres across the country. Promising a good dose of supernatural horror, Mama is also poised to add a new mother-figure to the roster of cinematic monsters. 

Before Mama came along, however, there has been a long tradition of evil moms in the history of horror cinema. Be they woman or beast, murderer or manipulator, today we look at 10 of horror's scariest movie mothers.

 10.) Aunt Martha (Sleepaway Camp)

As evidenced by more than one mama on this list, you don't have to butcher someone with a chainsaw or give birth to monsters to be a scary mommy. Sometimes, you just have to fuck up your kid's head so severely they commit murder. Take Aunt Martha for example. A mentally messed-up divorcee, Martha takes in her dead brother's orphaned son Peter. Since she already has a boy of her own, she decides to raise Peter as a girl named Angela. Psychologically fractured, Peter/Angela goes on a killing spree at sleepaway camp. Without the influence of Aunt Martha, we don't get Sleepaway Camp's iconic and disturbing final scene. Don't think Aunt Martha's suitably creepy enough? It's all in the performance. You watch this video and tell us if you could survive living with this overbearing stepford-like robot with these vacant, crazy eyes.

9.) Martha (Deep Red)

Another maniacal Martha! In the Italian giallo Deep Red (aka Profondo Rosso) from director Dario Argento, a mysterious killer with a thing for dolls brutally dispatches a psychic and then a slate of other victims to cover up the trail of clues. While the film leads the audience to believe the killer is a man named Carlo, it's revealed that the killer is none other than Carlo's own mother Martha. As a young boy, Carlo witnessed his mother murder his father when he tried to have her committed to a mental hospital. Not only did this scar Carlo for the rest of his life, but Martha has been unhinged ever since. Deep Red is a shocking and frightening portrayal of psychotic motherhood, especially when you take into account the brutality of the killer, as seen in this infamous teeth-bashing scene.

8.) Gloria "Mama" Firefly (House of 1000 Corpses & Devil's Rejects)

Known under many aliases with a long criminal record, Mama Firefly is best known as the matriarch of the Firefly family in Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses (portrayed by Karen Black) and The Devil's Rejects (played by Leslie Easterbrook). This psychotic mama presides over a twisted extended family of rapists, killers, cannibals, and subterranean torture freaks -- truly faces only a mother could love. In this clip from The Devil's Rejects, Mama Firefly tries her seductive wiles on a vengeful sheriff, but to no avail.

7.) Joan Crawford (Mommie Dearest)

I almost didn't include Mommie Dearest on this list because it hits too close to reality and isn't obviously a horror film. However, if you've seen Mommie Dearest (based on Christina Crawford's autobiography about her abusive mother, real-life actress Joan Crawford) then I think you'll agree that Joan Crawford, as he's portrayed by Faye Dunaway, is truly horrifying mother and Mommie Dearest is an exploitative domestic horror film under the pretense of a drama. As depicted in the film Mommie Dearest, Joan Crawford is an over-bearing, alcoholic, and mentally and physically abusive caregiver who takes out her own out-of-control life and downward-spiraling career on her adoptive daughter. It's pretty brutal and all the more scary because it really happened (according to Christina Crawford, anyway). Check out the trailer for some of the film's greatest hits (no pun intended)

6.) Nola (The Brood)

Combining disturbed mothers with creepy kids, it's David Cronenberg's The Brood. In this film, Nola (Samantha Eggar) is a mentally disturbed mother who attends experimental psychoplasmic therapy sessions designed to cure her by expelling her mental disturbances and trauma through physical manifestations. Unfortunately, Nola's psychosis is too severe and she ends up creating a brood of monstrous dwarf children who are psychically linked to her. They respond to her rage... and kill!

5.) Ruth Chandler (The Girl Next Door)

Adapted from the novel by Jack Ketchum, The Girl Next Door is a gross look into the dark side of American suburbia. When two orphaned sisters are sent to live with their Aunt Ruth (Blanche Baker) during the summer of 1958, they are physically, sexually, and mentally tortured by Ruth and her three sons. Describing what happens to them doesn't do it justice. Exceptionally disturbing given these kind of heinous actions take place every day. Get a taste of this shocking family of sociopaths in the trailer.

4.) Alien Queen (Aliens)

20 feet tall. Acid Blood. Serrated whip-like tail. Capable of birthing a race of perfect, parasitic killing machines. Yes, the Alien Queen from James Cameron's Aliens is one bad mutha indeed. Bigger, smarter, and stronger than the average xenomorph, the Alien Queen will defend its eggs and hive to the death. It's pure maternal instinct powering the body of a meat grinder. The only person woman enough to even go toe-to-toe with the Queen is Ripley.

3.) Margaret White (Carrie)

Who is really to blame for the fatal psychic meltdown at the end of Brian De Palma's Carrie? Is it bullied loner Carrie White for being unable to control her rage and telekinetic powers? Is it her classmates for ostracizing her and then dump pig's blood on her head during prom? Or is it Carrie's mother -- Margaret White -- for the years of guilt and shame she beat into poor Carrie with religious fanaticism and anti-sexual indoctrination. Played by Piper Laurie, Margaret White is the worst kind of mother, a narrow-minded, holier-than-thou matriarch who can't let her daughter live outside of her own obsession with guilt, sin, and the ever-present lure of Satan.

2.) Mrs. Bates (Psycho)

It's a rare feat to end up on a movie list like this when you've been dead for the entire movie from which you are nominated. But that just goes to show you how terrifying Mrs. Bates from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho truly is. How traumatizing must it have been for young Norman Bates to have lived with his mother that after her death he adopted her persona, dressed like her to kill his victims, speak in her voice, and continued to talk with her although she is but a shriveled up corpse that he's compelled to keep in his house. Oh god, mother Bates, you really did a number on your son, didn't you? A boy's best friend is his mother.

1.) Pamela Voorhees (Friday the 13th)

And what list of maniac moms would be complete without the mother of Jason Voorhees, horror's most enduring slasher icon. Driven mad by the death of her son Jason at Camp Crystal Lake, Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) takes vengeance on the camp counselors who work there, returning on Jason's birthday to get blood for blood. As the killer in Friday the 13th, Pamela makes brutal work of the counselors in her son's name, but not even her decapitation can keep her down. Although dead, she lives on in the work of her undead son, the hockey-masked and machete-wielding killer, and is often depicted as a voice in his head, motivating him to kill for mommy.

Oh, mama!

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