Mama, the Guillermo del Toro-produced horror film about a murderous spectral mother, arrives on Blu-ray and DVD this week (just in time for Mother’s Day!) and joins a long Hollywood history of awful maternal figures.
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Angela Lansbury was only three years older than Laurence Harvey when she played his scheming, domineering mother/covert commie agent, who was willing to sacrifice her son’s mental health for political power.
Piper Laurie’s terrifying turn as Margaret White, the monstrous Christian-fundamentalist parent to Sissy Spacek’s telekinetic teen, makes you want to forget all about that whole ”Honor thy father and thy mother” bit.
Mommie Dearest (1981)
Wire hangers are only one instrument of terror used by Faye Dunaway for her grotesque portrayal of actress Joan Crawford in the Lifetime-on-steroids camp classic detailing the abuse of her young children. There will be no dessert until you chew all your scenery.
Throw Momma From the Train (1987)
Anne Ramsey was the go-to actress for nasty moms in the ’80s. She played the ruthless Mama Fratelli in The Goonies and got an Oscar nom for playing this unbearable mother whom Danny DeVito wants dispatched in a comedic update of Strangers on a Train.
The Grifters (1990)
Everyone in this tricksy neo-noir about con men and women is pretty much pond scum — especially Anjelica Huston’s money-hungry Medea, who’ll eat her young like the peroxide-blond shark she is.