Scary Horror Movie Mothers

20 Crazy Muthas

promotional shot for the Alfred Hitchcock horror film 'Psycho', 1960.

Archive Photos/Getty Images

Everybody loves Mom. Maybe that's why she makes for such a popular horror movie villain. It's unexpected and shocking that the woman who gave birth to you and nurtured you for all those years would turn out to be a maniac—unless, of course, you're Leona Helmsley's kids. Here are some notable crazy scary mommies in horror movies.

Psycho (1960)

© Paramount

The standard for crazy mothers was set by the brow-beating Mrs. Bates in Alfred Hitchcock's classic Psycho. It takes a truly special lady to be that shrill and overbearing from beyond the grave.

Strait-Jacket (1964)

© Columbia

Horror showman William Castle, who directed the original House on Haunted Hill and 13 Ghosts, teamed with an aging Joan Crawford and her creepy eyebrows in this tale of a woman who's locked up in a mental hospital for 20 years for decapitating her husband and his mistress. When she's released and reunites with her daughter, people mysteriously start turning up headless. Coincidence? Hardly.

The Baby (1973)

The Baby
© Scotia International

A domineering mother keeps her 20-something son in an infantile state with intimidation, abuse and the occasional electric cattle prod in this twisted cult favorite.

Frightmare (1974)

© Redemption

If Norman Bates' mother were alive and as psychotic as he is, she'd turn out like the matriarch in this British production. Although she spent 18 years in the loony bin, Dorothy still has the compulsion to kill —and sometimes eat—with a particular fondness for ye olde electric drill.

Carrie (1976)

© United Artists

This religious spitfire of a mother shows her Christian spirit by beating her daughter with a bible and locking her in a closet. That'll teach you to show off your telekinesis! In the end, though, she's right; things probably would've turned out better if Carrie had just skipped prom. Sometimes, even crazy mommas know best.

Friday the 13th (1980)

Friday the 13th
© Paramount

Before Jason ever hurt a fly, Mrs. Vorhees was bumping off campers faster than malaria and dysentery combined. And she must've been pumping iron -- or human grown hormones -- to be able to toss people through windows as she did. At least we know where Jason gets his bedside manner.

Mother's Day (1980)

Mother's Day
© Troma

This cult flick is I think supposed to be a satire of "rape and revenge" exploitation films like I Spit on Your Grave, but it never really gels, deteriorating into the same sleaziness it's parodying. The movie's titular "mother" is a backwoods old lady in a neck brace who trains her two dimwitted sons to become rapists and murderers. They put their skills to the test kidnapping and torturing a trio of female campers. Hilarious. A mediocre name-only remake followed in 2010.

Mom (1991)


In this cheesy horror comedy, a man discovers that his elderly mother has been bitten by her mysterious border and turned into a cannibalistic creature who undergoes a werewolf-like transformation.

The People Under the Stairs (1991)

The People Under the Stairs
© Universal

Like Mommie Dearest on crack, this fun urban fairy tale from Wes Craven features a deranged mother seeking daughterly perfection -- even if she has to stab it out of her.

Dead Alive (1992)

Dead Alive
© Trimark

In Peter Jackson's hilariously over-the-top New Zealand splatterfest, Lionel's domineering mum is bitten by a rat-monkey (?) and turns into the mother of all zombies—creating a horde of living dead and eventually growing into a 20-foot-tall behemoth. Talk about Big Momma's House.

Mother's Boys (1994)

Mother's Boys
© Miramax

In this Fatal Attraction for mommies, a woman (Jamie Lee Curtis) who abandoned her kids returns years later when her ex-husband decides to marry someone else. This dull melodrama has nothing new to add to the "psycho stalker" genre—except for some icky incestuous overtones.

Mommy (1995)

© Roan Group

Patty McCormack, who portrayed the evil little girl in 1956's killer kid pic The Bad Seed, returns as an evil adult in the low-budget Mother's Day. She plays the perfectionist mother of an 11-year-old honor student whom she believes should receive the Student of the Year award. When the girl doesn't win, Mom ends up killing the teacher in charge...and then everyone who suspects she's the culprit. This shot-on-video thriller has the feel of Degrassi Junior High: Too Hot for TV. Somehow, someone saw fit to make a sequel in 1997.

Scream 2 (1997)

Scream 2
© Dimension

This retread of the original brought out the whole "two killers" twist again, but this time, the mastermind behind the scheme wasn't a pimply-faced teen, but rather—SPOILER ALERT—Mrs. Loomis, the mother of one of the first film's killers. Like her son, she too is a nut job.

Hush (1998)

© TriStar

In this silly, cliché-ridden thriller, Jessica Lange plays the mother-in-law from Hell (Or is it Kentucky?) who seeks to erase her son's new wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) from the picture after she gives birth to a grandchild.

The Girl Next Door (2007)

The Girl Next Door
© Anchor Bay

Based on a true story, this mean-spirited film finds a crazy 1950s mother overseeing the rape and torture of her niece by her pre-pubescent sons and any neighborhood kids who happen to drop by.

Inside (2007)

© Dimension

A wannabe mother tries to take the unborn child of an expectant mother by any means necessary. But mostly with scissors. Grisly, over-the-top stuff from France.

Baby Blues (2008)

Baby Blues
© Allumination

A 10-year-old farm boy defends his three younger siblings from his mother when she suffers a violent postpartum mental breakdown in this dramatic shocker. While the final product is imperfect and of questionable taste, its strong cast and direction ensure a lasting impact.

The Woman in Black (2012)

The Woman in Black
© CBS Films

Death doesn't stop the "Woman in Black" from returning from the grave to avenge the drowning of her son years earlier. To make up for this injustice, she lures children to their deaths to build up a posse of ghost kids.

Mama (2013)

© Universal

Like The Woman in Black, the ghostly mommy in seeks to replace the children she lost and won't let anyone get in her way.

Goodnight Mommy (2015)

Goodnight Mommy
© Radius-TWC

In the Austrian art-house horror flick Goodnight Mommy, when a woman returns home with her face completely bandaged from facial surgery, her young twin sons grow fearful that she's no longer their mother.