10 Scariest Movie Parents – CBR – Comic Book Resources

While killer children are an oft-used trope in horror movies, there are quite a few films that feature scary parents who have terrified audiences.
Netflix’s release of Mike Flanagan’s The Midnight Club has given horror fans a new series to binge. Terminally ill teenagers gathered at midnight to tell scary stories at a hospice away from their parents. While most kids would miss their parents in that situation, some horror movies have taught fans that it might be safer away from them.
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While scary children have become a somewhat overused theme in the horror genre, fans have seen a few reversals of the trope. Some children in horror movies have learned to fear their terrifying parents. Margaret White from Carrie scared fans with her extreme beliefs while the Ryans threatened their children in Mom and Dad and terrified audiences.
Fans of the Friday the 13th franchise are probably familiar with the hockey-mask-wearing killer named Jason Voorhees. However, the original 1980 hit featured a different killer altogether. When Camp Crystal Lake reopened years after the accidental drowning of a child, someone began taking out the camp counselors as they cleaned up the legendary “Camp Blood.”
The child who drowned was actually Jason Voorhees, which drove his mother into a vengeful rage. She blamed the counselors for his death, and she returned to Camp Crystal Lake to violently kill the new staff. Jason’s return and starring role in every other Friday the 13th movie saw him follow in his terrifying mother’s footsteps to become one of the deadliest horror movie slashers.
Stanley Kubrick directed one of the best Stephen King adaptations in 1980 with The Shining. Jack Nicholson played a writer named Jack Torrance who took a job as the new winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel. He moved his family out to the grand but isolated hotel for months of solitude. Unfortunately, the dark power of the Overlook soon began to influence Torrance.
Potential supernatural activity in the hotel left fans questioning the real reason behind Jack Torrance’s slow progression into madness. Regardless of the reason, he soon turned on his wife and young son with the intent to kill them. Torrance found his final resting place at the hotel, where he remained until his son returned to the Overlook in Doctor Sleep.
Master of Horror Wes Craven introduced horror fans to the Robesons in 1991’s The People Under the Stairs. Young “Fool” Williams learned the dark truth about his mysterious and greedy landlords after breaking into their house. He not only witnessed their abusive behavior towards their daughter but also discovered a terrifying secret.
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The Robesons were secretly brother and sister, and they had been kidnapping children for years. They imprisoned kids who refused to follow the harsh rules under the stairs. The children became cannibals to survive the horrifying ordeal. The terrifying “parents” tortured their stolen children for years until they were finally stopped by Fool.
The terror increases for some fans when real-life events inspire horror stories. 1987’s The Stepfather was loosely inspired by the case of John List, who disappeared for years after the deaths of his family in a house fire. Terry O’Quinn played Henry Morrison, though he took the name Jerry Blake after he murdered his family and started a new life.
Blake married a widow and became the titular stepfather to her young daughter. However, when they began to learn about his dark past, he returned to his murderous ways. He began taking steps to start another new life along with plans to kill his current family. The Stepfather was remade in 2009, though O’Quinn’s original portrayal of Jerry Blake is still the most terrifying.
Stephen King has written quite a few scary parents over the years, though each terrified viewers for different reasons. Margaret White appeared in 1976's Carrie by director Brian de Palma, which some fans might not realize is based on a Stephen King book. She was the mother to the titular young Carrie, a bullied teenager who began developing powerful telekinetic abilities.
Margaret White was a shut-in who lived her life in terror due to her extreme religious beliefs. While Carrie attempted to live her life free from her mother’s control, Margaret White continued to verbally abuse her daughter. She eventually even tried to kill her own daughter. Margaret was a terrifying parent who became the final victim of her daughter’s telekinetic rampage.
1989’s Parents starred Randy Quad and Mary Beth Hurt as the Laemies, parents to a young boy named Michael. The movie took place in the ‘50s and followed Michael as he discovered a terrible secret about his parents. Michael had terrible dreams that lead him to suspect that his parents might be cannibals.
His suspicions were soon confirmed as his parents tried to force him to follow in their footsteps as cannibals. Parents is a dark and comedic movie but it still terrified viewers. It can be hard to fight back against difficult parents, but it’s even more terrifying when they are cannibals. Michael managed to escape his parents, though the final scene left fans wondering if he was truly safe.
Rebecca De Mornay starred in 2010’s Mother’s Day, which was a loose remake of Charlie Kaufman’s 1980 film of the same name. She played the mother of three men who were on the run after a failed bank robbery. They attempted to get help from their mother but encountered a new family in their old house. A tense hostage situation developed that continued to get worse.
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She terrorized the family as soon as she arrived, and was responsible for the deaths of quite a few people. She even tried to force a girl into sexual relations with her injured son so he wouldn’t die a virgin. Fans remained terrified of the evil Mother and her potentially stolen children due to the final twist ending. She escaped her crimes as she grew her criminal family.
Pennywise was the main terror in Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of one of Stephen King’s scariest novels, It. However, the evil clown wasn’t the only threat in the town of Derry. The supernatural being had poisoned the town of Derry for hundreds of years as It preyed and fed on children. It influenced the adults for most of their lives, which turned them into potentially evil followers.
Some parents would look the other way unknowingly while Pennywise terrified their children. A few others like the town's pharmacist became evil predators themselves. Bev’s abusive father terrified fans and tormented his daughter long after she left home and escaped the corrupted town of Derry.
Jordan Peele revolutionized cinema with his directorial debut Get Out. The shocking film introduced the terrifying Armitage parents, Dean and Missy. Get Out followed a Black photographer as he met the family of his white girlfriend for the first time. He experienced a few odd moments during the tense meeting that soon helped him uncover a dark secret about the Armitage family.
Dean was the head of a dark cult that had developed a process to transplant the mind into the body of another person to extend their life. His wife Missy used her experience as a hypnotherapist to control and suppress their victims for the procedure. Their children even joined in on the terrible process which further terrified audiences.
2017's Mom and Dad is a great Nicolas Cage movie some fans haven't seen. He starred alongside Selma Blair as the Ryans, average parents dealing with average problems. However, a mysterious static signal broadcast on TV caused any parent who heard it to launch into a hysterical drive to kill their children.
They largely maintained their personalities and memories but felt the unstoppable urge to kill their kids. This drove them into a frenzy and a number of children fell victim to their parents. The Ryan children fought back against their parents and managed to avoid the same dark fate. The Ryans were typical parents until the signal turned them into scary murderers.
NEXT: 10 Best Horror Movie Endings, Ranked
Entertainment reporter, writer, and all-around geek, Scoot Allan has written for print and online media sources like Geek Magazine, GeekExchange, GrizzlyBomb, WhatCulture, RoguePlanet.tv and the Urban 30 before joining CBR as a senior writer. He enjoys salad but prefers french fries.
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