Friday, May 9, 2014


Happy Mother’s Day, everyone! I could write about wonderful portrayals of mom onscreen, from Barbara Stanwyck in STELLA DALLAS to Cicely Tyson in SOUNDER to Holly Hunter in THE INCREDIBLES to Sandra Bullock in THE BLIND SIDE. But since others are writing blogs about that this week, I’m going to concentrate on some of the badass muthas out there. That’s right, my five favorite and baddest mother***kers on film. All women, of course, in keeping with the May 11th holiday.

The remains of Mrs. Bates make a chilling entrance at the climax of PSYCHO (1960)
Boy did ol’ Norma do a number on her impressionable son. In Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO (1960), Mrs. Bates established herself as one of the greatest villains of all time. Even though she’s long dead, her horrible memory has turned Norman into a serial killer and the nearby swamp into a souvenir shop of horror. Her ‘appearance’ is still one of the most frightening images ever shown on screen.

Piper Laurie as Margaret White, a cut above the rest as a bad mother in CARRIE (1976)
Another bad mom who turned her child into a monster, the mother of CARRIE (1976) is a real piece of work. Bastardizing scripture and the idea of salvation, this religious loon locked her daughter in the closet for the smallest of sins, denigrated her daughter’s puberty changes (“Your dirty pillows are showing!”), and even stabbed her when she thought the devil was behind her ESP talents. The real devil was Mrs. White (Piper Laurie, in an Oscar nominated performance), and her crucifixion by her daughter (Sissy Spacek) in the film’s climatic fight scene was one of the most just desserts ever served and severed onscreen.

The Queen Mother smiles for the camera in ALIENS (1986)
“Get away from her, you bitch!” is what Sigourney Weaver yelled at the monstrous queen creature from another planet in ALIENS (1986). When the alien mom threatened Ripley’s pseudo-child Newt, the human's motherly instincts went into overdrive. Some mom’s have acidic tongues, the scaly one spewed acidic blood. She and her brood were far more dangerous than that any chainsaw wielding clan from Texas. And when she bared her massive fangs, both sets of ‘em, the Queen Mother entered movie immortality as the 'biggest, mean, green mutha' of them all.

The haunting final visage of Anjelica Huston's mama Lilly in THE GRIFTERS (1990)
How bad was John Cusack’s con artist mom (Anjelica Huston) in THE GRIFTERS (1990)? Well, Lilly stole from the mob, ripped off her son, killed his girlfriend by blowing her face off at point blank range...oh, and she had been sexually molesting her boy for years. That’s the inference at the end of the film. It’s an amazingly evil character, played brilliantly by the never better Huston. And Lilly is one of my all-time faves, even though she gives me heebie jeebies.

The Other Mother only has eyes for CORALINE (2009)
All kids wish someone else were their mom when being disciplined. Little CORALINE (2009) wished it and she’s transported into an alternate world where she got an Other Mother. Sure, at first things are great. Other Mother (voice of Teri Hatcher) is a wiz at decorating and whipping up delicious dinners of artistically prepared pancakes, but soon her real agenda is revealed.  She wants Coraline’s soul. And, yikes, her eyes! Her plan? Replace them with with buttons. I took my wife to see the movie and she said it was as scary as most adult horror movies are. I think it might've actually been scarier.

So what scared you? The mom in PRECIOUS? Joan Crawford in MOMMIE DEAREST? Audrey II in LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS? There are plenty o’ muthas out there. And hopefully, they’re only onscreen for you this Sunday. Happy Mother’s Day, friends and followers!


  1. Mama Fratelli (Anne Ramsey) still scares me in The Goonies. While she exhibited no supernatural powers, she was enough to make anyone want to throw her from a train!

  2. She was very scary, wasn't she? Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Neal. And for the witty line connecting her to her other famous role!

  3. Norma Bates will always be my favorite :) Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest scared me, too!

  4. Regarding Norma - you and me both, Juli. And I don't know who was scarier - the real Joan or Faye Dunaway's over-the-top performance as her!