Mother’s Day movies: Big Bad Mamas

Mothers Day graphic copyright Disc Dish

I Remember Mama, Stella Dallas, Terms of Endearment…whatever. Sure, they’re all fine for Mother’s Day viewing this weekend, but we feel it’s high time that cinema’s meaner mommies got a little attention when it comes to holiday Top Ten lists. And so, here’s our round-up of 10 films celebrating the madness, badness and sadness that many of the screen’s most recognizable mommies can embody!

Psycho movie scene


Psycho (1960)
Anthony Perkins is his own murderous mother in this requisite Hitchcock entry. I think they call that a “spoiler” in the business, but you should know by now.
Available on DVD from Universal

Mother’s Day (1980)
Troma chief Lloyd Kaufman’s brother Charlie made this nasty exploitation offering about a backwoods family in which mommy encourages her freakozoid sons to rape and kill any straggling tourists who wander by. And a remake with Rebecca DeMornay is on the way!
Available on DVD from Troma

Notorious (1946)
Another Hitchcock, this time in the form of Austrian actress Leopoldine Konstantin as a Nazi matriarch in Brazil who tries to poison Ingrid Bergman, her new daughter-in-law. Did Leopoldine not enjoy the fruitcup at the reception?
Available on DVD from MGM/Fox

Big Bad Mama (1974)
In the unabashedly buoyant B world of Roger Corman, if Angie Dickinson is gonna bring her two barely legal daughters to work with her, she may as well rob some banks, run some rum and engage in softcore sex.
Available on DVD from Buena Vista

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
The classic Kennedy era thriller finds the ever-warm Angela Lansbury running ice cold as a ruthless Communist power broker who rents out her son to the Reds for brainwashing, political assassination and a plot to end the free world.
Available on DVD from MGM/Fox

Aliens (1986)
Okay, the big bad Alien Queen might have been protecting her acid-oozing spawn, but did she really have to hurl Sigourney Weaver into two more sequels?
Available on DVD from Fox

The Sopranos (1999-2001)
The venom that flowed through the late Nancy Marchand’s veins as Tony Soprano’s cold-hearted mother in seasons one and two could give the Alien Queen a run for her money!
Available on DVD and Blu-ray Disc  from HBO/Warner

Mommie Dearest (1981)
Dunaway as Crawford. I still prefer silk-wrapped over wire to this day.
Available on DVD from Paramount

Friday the 13th (1980)
As accidentally drowned camper Jason Voorhees’ vengeful mother, Betsy Palmer wreaks bloody havoc on a gaggle of horny counselors while launching a franchise in the process.
Available on DVD and Blu-ray Disc from Paramount

Dead Alive (1992)
Released as Braindead in its native New Zealand, this spirited Peter Jackson gore-a-thon finds noble son Timothy Balme seeing to all his zombified mother’s cannibalistic desires, which includes gobbling down half the town.
Available on DVD from Lionsgate

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.