The Scariest Movie Moms of All Time

Piper Laurie, CarrieEverett Collection

In celebration of our appreciation for cinematic mothers, we’re highlighting famous movie moms that don’t deserve to be taken out to brunch. Not all of the mothers on this list inflict pain upon their own children, but most of them do. These are the mothers who surprise their fictional movie children not with a chocolate bar or a video game, but with a butcher knife to the chest. Spoiler alert: these movie moms freak us out, and they should scare you, too. (Also, major plot points are given away) 

Norma Bates (Psycho and Bates Motel)

Ms. Norma Bates doesn’t technically appear in Alfred Hitchcock‘s horror classic Psycho, as she turns out to be a figment of her tortured son Norman’s imagination. However, her presence is omnipotent, and that final voiceover monologue at the end of the film is the creepiest moment in film history. Vera Farmiga brings Norma to life in Bates Motel, and the result is nothing less than disturbing. 

Mrs. Voorhees (Friday the 13th)

Friday the 13th is one of the best and most successful slasher films of all time. To those a little behind on their movie history: the killer in the original film isn’t Jason. (fun fact: Drew Barrymore‘s character didn’t know this in Scream, either). Actually, the killer is Jason’s mother, Mrs. Voorhees (Betsy Palmer), who seeks revenge for her son’s death. She may look like a sweet, old lady that you’d play bingo with, but deep inside she’s a cold-blooded monster.  

Joan Crawford (Mommie Dearest)

“No wire hangers ever!” This is what Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway) demands to her daughter in Mommie Dearest, the most horrifying mother/daughter relationship ever put on screen. The film has rightfully become a cult classic since its 1981 release. Despite some of the campy dialogue and acting, Dunaway is genuinely frightening as the mentally disturbed Crawford. 

Margaret White (Carrie)

No disrespect to Julianne Moore, but her rendition of mother-from-hell Margaret White doesn’t hold a candle to Piper Laurie‘s original take on the character in Brian De Palma‘s horror classic Carrie. Margaret is a mentally deranged religious fanatic who abuses her daughter Carrie (Sissy Spacek) in the name of religion. If you’ve only seen the 2013 remake, you owe it to yourself to check out this chilling classic from 1976. 

Erica Sayers (Black Swan)

In Black Swan, Erica Sayers (Barbara Herhsey) is an overprotective stage mom who might as well be a demon. The film is about sexual repression, and we get a sense that Nina’s (Natalie Portman) stilted maturity stems from her mother’s control. Hershey owns the role with her quiet demeanor and terrifyingly black eyes. 

Mother (Mother)

Not many people have seen Joon-ho Bong‘s art-house horror flick Mother, and they’re missing out on a truly scary movie mom who will go to murderous lengths to protect her son. Hye-ja Kim is riveting in this underrated masterpiece. 

Mrs. Loomis (Scream 2)

Following Mrs. Voorhees, Mrs. Loomis (Laurie Metcalf) is the second mother on the list who kills a bunch of people to avenge the death of her son. The only difference, of course, is that Mrs. Loomis’ son was also a serial killer, which suggests that something went severely wrong in the Loomis household. 

Grace (The Others

The Others is a complicated film to explain, so let’s just say that Nicole Kidman‘s character Grace goes insane, kills her children, and then plays it off like nothing ever happened when they wake up as ghosts. The audiences doesn’t know this until the end, of course, which means that we’ve been sympathizing with a monster the whole time. On second viewing, it’s easy to see how scary Grace is, and the frightening lengths she will go to whitewash her insanity. 

Let us know if we’ve missed your favorite scary movie moms in the comments.