Since the horror genre heavily features protagonists who are teens or young adults, horror movies often spend time introducing the audience to these characters' parents. Unlike other movie genres, horror parents are rarely a positive and nurturing influence - and if a horror movie parent is a good role model, odds are they'll be the first to go out.
There are many ways to be a terrible parent, but horror movie parents tend to fall into three categories. In one, the parent is also the movie's antagonist - if a parent is actively trying to take out their child, they are probably the antagonist. In the second, the parent plays a major role in making the villain who they are. These are the kinds of parents whose parenting style is so messed up that it's inevitable their child will turn into a monster. Parents like these don't even have to appear in the movie for their influence to be felt. The third type is more benign but no less dangerous: the parent who makes a series of poor decisions that place their children in danger, and then refuses to listen to reason until it's far too late.
- Photo: United Artists
Margaret White, Carrie's mom in the Stephen King adaptation Carrie, is the prototypical overbearing horror movie parent. Margaret shames Carrie for starting her first menstrual cycle in the locker room shower after gym class. On top of that, Margaret punishes Carrie by locking her in the closet and telling her to repent. Margaret is always warning Carrie against her sinful ways, including having friends or any desire to connect with people.
Margaret takes her already harmful behavior one step further when she tries to take out her own daughter. When Margaret first discovers Carrie's telekinetic powers, she accuses Carrie of being a satanic witch. After Carrie returns home from the prom massacre, Margaret confides in Carrie that she was taken advantage of by Carrie's father, but this is only a ploy to lower Carrie's guard. Margaret targets Carrie with a kitchen knife, so Carrie uses her telekinesis to crucify her mother.Are they the worst?
- Photo: Universal Pictures
The Robesons are the main villains of The People Under the Stairs, but throughout the film, they're known only as "Mommy and Daddy." Mommy and Daddy are a pair of villainous landlords who are secretly brother and sister. When the movie's hero, Fool, breaks into the Robesons' house to search for his missing friend, he learns that Mommy and Daddy are keeping several kidnaped children locked in their basement, whom they feed so rarely that the children have resorted to cannibalism. And whenever these children try to escape or even cry out for help, Mommy and Daddy torment them.
The only child in the Robeson household who isn't kept in the basement is Alice, and that's because she's terrified into following the rules. But once Fool shows up, Alice readily helps him free the other children and take down Mommy and Daddy.Are they the worst?
For a movie that's essentially a Friday the 13th ripoff, Sleepaway Camp is still one of the most controversial slasher films ever made. It's one of the few slasher movies with a transgender main character, and its handling of the subject has drawn both praise and criticism. The film follows the young Angela on her tumultuous first trip to summer camp, where she is relentlessly bullied and even ends up slaying many of her fellow campers. The film ends with a shocking twist: Angela was born as a boy named Peter, and her Aunt Martha forced her to change her gender.
When Angela was still Peter, she witnessed her father and sister perish in a boating accident, and then was sent to live with her aunt. Aunt Martha informed her that since she already had a son, she would now be living as a girl, and Peter took on Angela's identity in remembrance of her. Aunt Martha doesn't appear in the film for very long, but forcing a gender conversion onto Angela only adds to her trauma and leads her to slaughter the bullies at her camp.Are they the worst?
- Photo: Paramount Pictures
Even though we don't really meet Norma Bates in living form until the fourth film in the Psycho series, it's made clear throughout that her relationship with her son heavily contributed to his volatile behavior. She projects her own unhealed trauma on her son, and demands from him an unhealthy level of closeness, causing Norman to take on an alternate personality he calls "Mother" as a way of coping.
Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990) covers Norma's origin story, and we finally see that, yes, she was just as awful of a mother as you'd think. Norma is so controlling that she isolates Norman and forces him to rely on her. She teaches him that pleasure is sinful and all women - except for herself - are dangerous. Norman's unhealthy perspective of a mother/son relationship causes him much distress and confusion, and after he ends her life, he mummifies her remains so he can maintain the illusion that she is still with him.Are they the worst?