Margaret White in Carrie The zinger: “They’re all gonna laugh at you.”
High school is tough enough, but Carrie’s strict, fundamentalist mother makes the experience a thousand times worse for the awkwardly shy teenager. The horrors of menstruation are taxing on poor Carrie, but her nutty mom adds to the teen’s anxiety by telling her stuff like, “Pimples are the Lord’s way of chastising you,” and, “I can see your dirty pillows.” Clearly Margaret White missed the memo that all little girls grow up. As if all this weren’t bad enough, Mrs. White haunts her daughter with just one sentence: “They’re all gonna laugh at you.” It’s every adolescent’s worst nightmare, and the words make Carrie go full-blown bonkers at the prom.
Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest The zinger: “I will always beat you.”
This line from Faye Dunaway’s Joan Crawford popped up when the miserable mom beat her daughter in a bizarre swimming contest, just to prove that she’s faster and stronger than the young girl. She could have easily meant it literally, though, as “mommie dearest” spends most of the movie physically beating her kids while boozing it up. Crawford’s twisted take on parenting includes angrily chopping all her daughter’s hair off, whacking her with wire hangers, and worse. Still, it’s this one line in the beginning of the movie that sets the tone for their entire relationship and stings the abused girl at an impressionable age.
Norma Bates in Psycho The zinger: “Ha ha… I am sorry, boy, but you do manage to look ludicrous when you give me orders.”
Norma Bates doesn’t approve of her son’s “cheap, erotic mind,” which is probably how she ended up dead in the cellar in the first place. Norman lashes out at his mom thanks to a lifetime of verbal abuse, feeling suffocated by her overbearing personality. The young boy grew attached to her in an unhealthy way, prompting her murder when Norman convinced himself he was going to be replaced by mom’s new boyfriend. Unable to cope with it all, Norman’s cross-dressing killer adopts his mother’s persona and continues to torture himself with hateful, schizophrenic lines like this one.
Mary in Precious The zinger: “Don’t nobody want you, don’t nobody need you!”
The harrowing story of Precious and her struggle to make it out of her mother’s abusive clutches is difficult to watch. There’s nothing redeeming about Mary, and it’d be too depressing to quote some of the vile profanity she’s spewed about her downtrodden daughter. The above line sums up everything you need to know about their relationship. Mary’s always been in it for herself, favoring Precious’ sexually abusive father over her innocent child. She never should have had children. Ever.
Olivia Foxworth in Flowers in the Attic The zinger: “So that you understand me now, I will give you food and shelter, but never kindness or love. For it is impossible to feel anything but disgust for what is not wholesome.”
Not all grandmothers bake you cookies, especially when Louise Fletcher plays them in the movies. The actress stars as Olivia Foxworth, mother to the flaky, greedy, and conniving Corinne who treats her children like dusty, lost attic treasures. Grandma’s full of hellfire and brimstone when it comes to her own child (the inappropriate relationship Corinne had with the family didn’t help things) and doesn’t think twice about inflicting the same kind of holier than thou verbal lashing onto her grandchildren who she believes are the “devil’s spawn.”
Marietta Fortune in Wild at Heart The zinger: “You know who that was. And you know you aren’t, and I mean are not gonna see him ever. End of story!”
This line from Diane Ladd’s wonderfully crazed Marietta Fortune might seem like an innocuous thing the average mom would say to her child, but words like these coming from a lunatic like Marietta shouldn’t be mistaken for actual parenting skills. Let’s not forget that she hired gangster Santos to murder her daughter’s boyfriend, and she propositioned the guy in a public bathroom without hesitation. She breaks all the rules of being a good mom.
Lilly Dillon in The Grifters The zinger: “You aren’t tough enough!”
Anjelica Huston’s veteran con artist Lilly Dillon doesn’t fool us, even though she might have her son Roy (John Cusack) convinced she cares. The film’s disturbing end, however, proves that mom would do anything for the money she swindles. Even before the curtains close, Lilly keeps her son in line by telling him he’s not good enough for much of anything, even being a lousy crook.
Mama Fratelli in The Goonies The zinger: “Oh, Slothy. I may have been bad. I may have kept you chained up in that room, but it was for your own good.”
What kind of mom leads a family of fugitives against a group of little children? The kind who says that “kids suck,” that’s who. Known for playing the less than stellar mother in movies like Throw Momma from the Train, in The Goonies, Anne Ramsey locks her deformed son Sloth up like an animal.
Violet Venable in Suddenly, Last Summer The zinger: “See how she destroys us with her tongue for a hatchet? You’ve got to cut this hideous story out of her brain.”
Lobotomy is immediate grounds for bad mother of the year award. Katharine Hepburn’s Violet Venable will stop at nothing to cover the truth. In denial about her sordid relationship with her son and his tragic death, Mrs. Venable attempts to lobotomize her niece (Elizabeth Taylor) and creepily demands the operation to the family doctor.
Madame Sebastian in Notorious The zinger: “We are protected by the enormity of your stupidity, for a time.”
Madame Sebastian consoles her son when he finds out that he’s been falling in love with a spy by giving him some tough love with the above line. And like any normal, sane mother who cares for her kid, she convinces him that the girl must die a slow and painful death.