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Happy Mother’s Day! 5 More Of The Worst Movie Moms

by Diana Drumm
May 12, 2013 10:38 AM
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Betsy Palmer – “Friday the 13th” (1980)
Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) is a verifiable nutbag. Being the mother of a special needs son can be difficult, but not all go on a murderous rampage and spur on their son’s killing spree into ten sequels. Due to Jason’s hydrocephalus (brain fluid-related swelling), Pamela never sent her son to school, bordering on the tad over-protective, and dooming Jason to be a wee bit awkward, in the best circumstances. After thinking Jason had drowned in Camp Crystal Lake, Mrs. Voorhees grieves and mourns as any mother would – hearing voices, killing a few camp counselors, poisoning the lake… Wait, no they wouldn’t. Pamela meets her own demise when a survivor from one of her rampages slices her head off with a machete, setting Jason off. Like mother like son, Jason takes his vengeance out on the local teenagers. Not quite resting in peace, Pamela appears in a few of the sequels – her decapitated head in a freezer in “Friday the 13th Part 2,” her corpse in the lake in “Friday the 13th Part III,” and in hell with Freddy Krueger pretending to be her to egg Jason on to kill the Elm Street kids as part of the horror mash-up “Freddy vs. Jason.” You may have some gripes about your mother, but at least she didn’t kill a bunch of teenagers in your name.

Kathleen Turner – “Serial Mom” (1994)
You can probably tell why we chose this by the title alone. “Serial Mom” is John Waters’ scathing suburban satire (doesn’t that describe every Waters movie?) about a cookie cutter mother who unbeknownst to her family is a serial killer. Unlike other mothers on this list, Beverly R. Sutphin vents her frustrations through abusing others rather than her own family. Played by Kathleen Turner, Beverly takes any small gripe against her family as an excuse for vigilante “justice.” Picture your mother going to a PTA meeting and talking to your math teacher. Cringey I know, but keep reading. That very same teacher tells your mother that you have an off-kilter interest in slasher films and suggests therapy. The guy’s a jerk, but we’ve all met that teacher along the way. What would your mother do? Shirk it off, speak with you about your gory taste affecting your school work or murder said teacher? If it’s the third one, we are very sorry for you and you should contact the authorities. This is exactly what Mrs. Sutphin does and continues to do until the cops finally catch up with her. Not the most stable of maternal figures, Beverly’s keepsakes include Ted Bundy audio and Charles Manson clippings. Although she takes her family very seriously, a general rule of thumb is that a serial killer does not a good mother make. Therefore, Beverly is a wicked Waters delight, but a truly horrible mother.

Mo’Nique – "Precious" (2009)
Mothers and daughters squabble time to time; it’s a fact. Some cross words may be exchanged, some venting of frustration, but has your mother ever tried to kill you with a television? No? Then you can see why Mary Lee Johnston (Mo’Nique), mother of Precious (Gabourey Sibide), has made it onto this list. Unfortunately, that’s only one instance in a long, long string of Mary’s poor mothering and negligence. Her abuse ranges from the physical to the emotional (“You're a dummy, bitch! You will never know shit! Don't nobody want you, don't nobody need you!”). Things are only compounded when you realize that Precious’ child (Mary’s grandchild) is the offspring of her own father. Contrary to general conceptions of maternal instinct, Mary sees this as Precious’s fault and views her own daughter as the “other woman.” Rather than protecting her child, Mary attacks and harangues her. As Precious tries to make a better life for herself, her mother is there to dash any and all hope. No sympathy, no compassion, no guidance. Mary is not a mother, but a monster, made even worse by her attempts to justify herself and her actions to a social worker. Her tears, although heartfelt, are too little, too late and have no impact on her role as a mother. Be thankful this Mother’s Day that your mother hasn’t knocked you out cold with an ashtray, yet.

Any bad mamas out in cinema land that make your skin crawl? Share them with us below!    

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  • Gus Barletto | May 9, 2014 12:40 PMReply

    Mary Tyler Moore in Ordinary People!

  • Will | May 9, 2014 12:20 PMReply

    Dame Angela Lansbury in the Manchurian Candidate - not just horrible movie mom, but one of the greatest film performances ever. How they failed to award her with an Oscar is beyond me.

  • Logan | June 11, 2013 7:41 PMReply

    I dunno, Pam should be one of the best moms. If I drowned in a lake I'd hope my mother would go on a killing rampage in my honor.

  • TwitRome | May 12, 2013 6:52 PMReply

    Always a fun category, this one. Just to get started, these are only a few: Mother (directed by Bong Joon-ho); Sister (L'Enfant d'en haut); Bad Boy Bubby; Notorious, with Madame Sebastian doing double-duty as bad mother-in-law; Manchurian Candidate; Pink Flamingos; Mommy Dearest; The House Down the Street. While step-moms weren't explicitly invited, they don't have their own day, do they, dearies? Any of the Snow Whites will do, but most recent of the pack perhaps is Blancanieves (2012), who gets the ball rolling nicely in this category, while Louise Brooks gets the shaft from stepmom in Diary of a Lost Girl (1929).

  • NO BRAINER | May 12, 2013 5:24 PMReply


  • NewYorker | May 12, 2013 1:49 PMReply

    Rebecca De Mornay in Mother's Day, Jennifer Tilly in Seed Of Chucky & Rhea Perlman in Matilda.

  • Joe | May 12, 2013 1:17 PMReply

    Joan Crawford from mommy dearest and the mom and grandmother from flowers in tbe attic

  • Serena | May 12, 2013 12:10 PMReply

    Why is it that on Mother's Day, there's more "Worst Movie Mothers" online compared to Father's Day, where Atticus Finch and Don Corleone are annually toasted? How about a little positivity for women who had to push something the size of a watermelon out an opening the size of a lemon?

  • Serena | May 12, 2013 12:09 PMReply

    Why is it that on Mother's Day, there's more "Worst Movie Mothers" online compared to Father's Day, where Atticus Finch and Don Corleone are annually toasted? How about a little positivity for women who had to push something the size of a watermelon out an opening the size of a lemon?

  • Daniel | May 12, 2013 11:14 AMReply

    Angela Lansbury from The Manchurian Candidate

  • Castilda | May 12, 2013 3:52 PM

    Absolutely! A direct descendant of the devouring Volumnia in Coriolanus.

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