This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and many of us will be celebrating the contributions and sacrifices our mothers have made to help us become who we are. But not all moms are created equal, and that’s especially true in cinema, because we know some real crappy movie moms out there — 24 to be exact — and they deserve no flowers, chocolates, or fancy dinners.
Margaret White (Piper Laurie) in Carrie
Poor Carrie. Bullies and pig blood at school, knifey fundamentalist mom at home.
Helen Boucher (Kathy Bates) in The Waterboy
While many a mama on this list are deranged or downright evil, Helen Boucher simply wants the best for her boy, smothering him with Southern-fried life platitudes and overprotection to the point of brain damage.
Kate McCallister (Catherine O’Hara) in Home Alone
Kate, we know being a WASP in the ’90s was complicated stuff, but forgetting your son twice while on vacation? Come on. Another sequel, Home Alone: Kevin Wanders Into An AOL Chatroom Unsupervised, was left on the shelf.
Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway) in Mommie Dearest
A maniacally over-the-top performance by Dunaway as fading icon Joan Crawford. Responsible for bringing down Big Wire Hanger lobby in D.C.
Beverly Sutphin (Kathleen Turner) in Serial Mom
In her defense: She just wanted to keep order. It’s crucial, after all, that fashion rules (no white after Labor Day!) are upheld, and pesky neighbors are dealt with accordingly (Mrs. Jensen deserved to be clubbed like a seal with that leg of lamb).
Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) in Friday the 13th
Hope we’re not spoiling a 36-year old classic for you, but Jason isn’t even the killer in the first Friday: it’s his Cosby sweater-wearing momma who wants to exact revenge on all them horny camp counselors.
The Wicked Stepmother (Cate Blanchett) in Cinderella
The iconic cruel stepmother of moviedom, most recently seen in Kenneth Branagh’s live-action fairy tale adaptation.
Stifler’s Mom (Jennifer Coolidge) in American Pie
Webcams, Blink-182, frosted hair tips — navigating high school in the ’90s was hard enough even without your class clown’s mom attempting to devour your virginity.
Mama Fratelli (Anne Ramsey) in The Goonies
Early Steven Spielberg productions make much ado about lousy fathers, but here’s one parental figure he suggests the kids would be better off without.
Momma (Anne Ramsey) in Throw Momma From the Train
Ramsey was the monstrous mom in the ’80s, and her role here guaranteed she would haunt and harangue kids long after they graduated from watching Goonies.
Mrs. Wormwood (Rhea Perlman) in Matilda
Carrie for the toddler set, this Roald Dahl adaptation features Perlman as a vapid, tacky mom more interested in game shows and nail polish than her daughter’s nascent ESP powers.
Lorraine Baines (Lea Thompson) in Back to the Future
On the next Sally: Fate may have resigned you to a life of heavy drinking married to a dweeb, but is creating a time paradox by hooking up with your future teenage son really the answer?
Elaine Robinson (Anne Bancroft) in The Graduate
Mrs. Robinson didn’t just personify the cringe-inducing ideal of the sexually aggressive mom, she was the original cougar, hunting for prey her daughter’s age. She was sultry and “mature,” she had some righteous lingerie, and she refused to share her lover with her daughter.
Eleanor Isein (Angela Lansbury) in The Manchurian Candidate
It’s never a good thing when parents try to live out their ambitions through their children. It’s especially uncool to use your kids as pawns in a plot to overthrow the government.
The Woman (Charlize Theron) in The Road
Theron’s character couldn’t handle the post-apocalypse, so she disappeared into the night, leaving behind husband and son.
The Other Mother (Teri Hatcher) in Coraline
In Laika’s stop-motion animated fantasy, neglected Coraline crawls into a parallel world where a new mother awaits, perfect except for the fact that she insists Coraline graft buttons in place of her eyes.
Mary (Mo’Nique) in Precious
Mo’Nique won an Oscar for her hellacious performance. We can only wonder how much more damage her Mary character would’ve done if that statue was lying around the house.
Monica (Frances O’Connor) in A.I. Artificial Intelligence
When you leave your son in a dank wood to be picked up by a robot gigolo, you’ve failed as a parent.
Abbey (Nancy Hendrickson) in Mother’s Day
Abbey raised her two sons to believe that they need to impress her constantly — with acts of kidnapping, rape, and murder. Anything for a wanton mother’s love.
Mother (Mae Questel) in New York Stories
Stereotypical Jewish mother? Nothing wrong with that. Sterotypical Jewish mother that haunts you from above the New York skyline? Nightmare fuel.
Charlotte (Kristen Wiig) in Diary of a Teenage Girl
Single mom in the 1970s got a boyfriend. Mom’s got a precocious 15-year old daughter on the verge of sexual awakening. Mom catches boyfriend and daughter in an affair, suggests the two should marry and make it official. How selfless. And who calls the ’70s the ‘me’ decade?
Debbie (Leslie Mann) in This Is 40
Leslie Mann starred in this semi-autobiographical movie shot in her own house with her own kids but with husband Judd Apatow replaced by Paul Rudd. What does it say to your kids that their father can be replaced by a rakishly handsome funnyman? What does it say to all of us?
The Queen in Aliens
Okay, technically a good mom for trying to propagate the species, in her unique acid-spitting parasitic way.
Norma Bates in Psycho
Poor Norman Bates. All he wants to do is listen to Beethoven and devote time to taxidermy. And yet his mom nags him all the time into maintaining his failing motel. (Spoiler Alert!) No wonder business is slow; Mrs. Bates demands that Norman take a Ginsu to anyone foolish enough to stop by. (At least she taught him how to do housework, since the shower in room #1 is clean as a whistle.) A lot of moms are possessive of their children, but most are at least kind enough not to take up residence in their sons’ brains — or badger them from beyond the grave.