12 Twisted Mother's Day Movies

Posted by Billy Gil, May 9, 2014 09:36am | Post a Comment

Mother’s Day could mean tuning into the latest movie based on a Jane Austen book or rom-com, but that’s no fun. Instead, we've compiled a list of 12 of the most messed-up movies about mothers. Save these to watch for after you’ve hung out with mom.

Mother’s Day (1980)

Let’s start with the one that shares its name with the holiday. The horror film, produced by cult horror kings Troma Entertainment and directedy by Charles Kaufman, got flak at the time of its release for its exploitative aspects, its rape/revenge scenario calling back to I Spit On Your Grave. But since then, its cult has become a substantial enough to warrant a remake produced by Brett Ratner and starring Rebecca De Mornay (star of another screwed-up mom’s movie, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle). “Darlings, you have made your mother very proud,” the deranged mother of two hillbilly punks tells the boys when they bring her a woman to murder. Mom will love this one!


Serial Mom (1994)

Here’s one your mom might actually like, for cathartic reasons. John Waters, the emperor of bad taste, made this relatively mainstream yet still plenty effed up black comedy about a Stepford-ish mom who commits a series of murders in a small town for infractions as slight as stealing a parking spot. Kathleen Turner is awesome as the perfect mom you really hope you don’t piss off, killing with glee in stifling suburbia. Lots of appearances by Waters regulars like Ricki Lake, Mink Stole, Traci Lords and Waters himself, as the voice of Ted Bundy.


Psycho (1960)

One of the all-time greats in horror cinema, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho centers around a wormy motel clerk and his psychotic mother, and the twist of fate that happens when a woman on the run (Vivian Leigh) stays at the Bates Motel after stealing from her boss. If you’re one of the few who’ve never seen this movie and somehow never had it spoiled for you (I think that happened for me on the Universal Studios backlot tour as a child), I won’t do that here, but it’s safe to say that Psycho is one of the most twisted mother-son stories ever. The film spawned many sequels of varying degrees of quality, and a TV show, “Bates Motel,” that I’m told is quite good.


Mama (2013)

Guillermo del Toro produced this new modern horror film, which was better than it looked—and it wasn’t even a remake! Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) stars as a woman forced to ditch her band and shoddy apartment to take care of her boyfriend’s nieces (hey, her boyfriend is played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, aka Jamie Lannister in "Game of Thrones") after they're found abandoned and feral out in the woods. Their father had kidnapped them and was going to kill them but was stopped by some unknown force. That would be Mama, the supernatural entity that then goes on to terrorize the group as they try to forge a new family out of tragedy. Obviously it’s a pretty messed up movie about motherhood, but like Rosemary’s Baby before it, there is some interesting subtext about motherhood, adoption and trauma if you dig into it.


Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Your mother would love you, no matter what. Even if you were the literal spawn of Satan. Heartwarming! The soundtrack's pretty sick, too. This one’s also getting made into a TV show; how and why, we’re not sure.


Secret Ceremony (1968)

Here’s a good cult one—Elizabeth Taylor and Mia Farrow (Satan's babymamma in Rosemary's Baby) play an aging prostitute and a disturbed young woman, respectively, who meet by chance and engage in an imaginary mother-daughter relationship to replace the one each has lost. It’s as over-the-top and laden with melodrama as you might assume, full of fake pregnancies and sapphic overtones, but its surreal, dreamlike quality and camp factor make it worth seeking out. How did two huge actresses at the time star in a movie this strange?


Friday the 13th (1980)

Nothing says Mother’s Day like the eternal mother-son bond between Jason Voorhees and his mother. Still has one of the most terrifying endings of any horror movie.


Grey Gardens (1978)

A great mother-daughter one—two relatives of Jackie O. live in a surreal, dilapidated manor, bickering in near isolation and increasing squalor in this classic documentary. It’s endlessly entertaining and quotable, so much so that it spawned a sequel, a TV movie version starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange as Little and Big Edie, respectively, and a drag stage show inspired by the film. (The original and sequel are available in a two-disc set.)


Mommie Dearest (1981)

This unintentionally hilarious portrayal of Joan Crawford, based on the memoir by her daughter, Christina Crawford, sees Faye Dunaway star as an abusive and batshit crazy rendition of Crawford. It’s a sad story, but a ridiculous script and mostly terrible acting make it Dunaway’s wire-hanger-whipping performance won her a Razzie that year, but as the years wear on, Dunaway’s unwavering dedication to the role has made it unforgettable. Watch the film’s most well-known scene below.


Precious (2009)

With all due respect to Faye Dunaway, Joan Crawford and Mommie Dearest, Mo’Nique played the worst movie mom ever with her Oscar-winning role in Precious. Dropping her daughter’s baby (born of being raped by the girl’s father) is just the worst out of a lifetime’s worth of indignities Mary Lee Johnston inflicts upon her daughter, Precious, played by Gabourey Sidibe. To Mo’Nique’s credit, her tearful final scene in which she humanizes this monster mom is one of the film’s most memorable moments.


Carrie (1976)

Carrie is so widely known for its prom blood bath scene, it’s easy to forget the film, based on Stephen King’s first novel, is essentially a film about abuse and bullying—in this case, both by the titular character’s mother and by her peers—and the wider effects that can have. It’s a film that goes far beyond the trappings of the horror genre and is eerily all too relevant today. Both Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie garnered Oscar nominations for their respective roles as telekinetic outsider Carrie and her religious nut mother. There’s a remake, too, starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore, if you like your Carrie with better special effects.


Throw Momma From the Train (1987)

This list wouldn’t be complete without a movie whose title literally encourages the throwing of mothers from trains. Anne Ramsey stars as an overbearing mother who drives her son (Danny DeVito) to wish her dead; he kills his teacher’s (Billy Crystal) ex-wife (Kate Mulgrew, Red on “Orange is the New Black”), whom the teacher despises, so that the teacher will in turn kill this man’s mother for him, in a nod to Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train. Sounds like a real recipe for laughter! But it actually is quite funny. Fun fact: Did you know Ramsey, also Mama Fratelli in The Goonies, got an Oscar nomination for her role as the overbearing mother in this film? Cheers to the late Anne Ramsey, and all of the actresses who played terrible mothers on this list. Happy Mother’s Day to you all!

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Mommie Dearest (6), Secret Ceremony (1), Friday The 13th (5), Mother's Day (9), Lists (63), Film (202), Horror (218), Serial Mom (2), Psycho (5), Throw Momma From The Train (1), Grey Gardens (7), Mama (2), Rosemary's Baby (1), Precious (4)