Yes, it's once again Mother's Day, the annual recognition and appreciation of those from whose tortured loins we emerged into this cruel, cruel world. If you're lucky you get a mom who loves and nurtures you, but if you are not so fortunate, you could end up with a mom like one of the ladies to whom I here pay tribute. If you have not seen these movies, you have missed some fine examples of motherhood at its most heinous, sleazy, insane and diabolical. In other words, that's entertainment!
STIFFLER'S MOM from AMERICAN PIE (1999)
While she's definitely a high school male fantasy come true, Stiffler's mom (Jennifer Coolidge), the character who introduced the term "M.I.L.F." to the common lexicon, is a disturbing fusion of classy, sexy and sleazy as hell. I understand that a cougar's gotta do what a cougar's gotta gotta do, but you don't fuck one of your son's underage best friends, especially not during a party in your own house, and on the pool table, no less. An act compounded by being witnessed by her understandably appalled son.
VIOLA FIELDS from MONSTER-IN-LAW (2005)
Even though her insane obsession and evil was directed at the horrendous Jennifer Lopez, Jane Fonda as the ultimate mom who could not let go of her son cannot possibly be considered a hero.
"MOTHER" from MOTHER'S DAY (1980)
What can you really say about an aged Aunt May-type who lives in the deep woods of New Jersey and teaches her pair of mentally ill sons to rape, murder and torture innocent victims because it's fun? She's so fucking sick that she actually has an area in the backyard reserved for private "shows" in which her boys act out scenarios using terrified young women they've kidnapped in the female roles, such as "cute girl sitting on a park bench," and this mad form of "theater" inevitably ends with the poor girl in question being beaten and tag team raped while mom watches with a huge smile on her face.
MRS. BATES from PSYCHO (1960)
I know this entry is a major spoiler, but if you have not seen this movie by now, you really have no excuse. We never see Mrs. Bates when she was alive — that's covered in PSYCHO IV: THE BEGINNING (1990) — but we can judge her by what she wrought, namely her creepy, taxidermy-obsessed, sexually-confused and ultimately murderous cross-dresser of a son with a split personality, Norman, who single-handedly embodied what later became known as the "slasher" archetype for nearly two decades before the actual slasher genre even got started. So fucked up was her son, that he heard her screeching and scornful voice in his head long after her demise, and any thoughts of lust were soon superseded by mother's desire to crush that sort of thing by any means necessary...
MARY from PRECIOUS (2009)
Probably the most realistically portrayed character on this list, Mary qualifies as a mother only insomuch as she gave physical birth to the story's utter victim of a title character. Way too close to reality, Mary is a horrid, horrid creation, and Mo'Nique's ultra-disturbing portrayal of her was completely deserving of the Oscar she won for it.
BETH JARRETT from ORDINARY PEOPLE (1981)
Mary Tyler Moore killed her sweet, kooky and perky image and buried it stone-cold dead with this Oscar-nominated portrayal of an embittered and emotionally abusive mother who cruelly torments her remaining son in the wake of her favored older boy's untimely death.
JOAN CRAWFORD from MOMMIE DEAREST (1981)
In a simultaneously brilliant and completely over-the-top performance, Faye Dunaway chews up the scenery like a rabid wolverine as Hollywood legend Joan Crawford in the film adaptation of Crawford's real-life adopted daughter's tell-all bestseller. Say it with me: "No wire hangers, EVER!!!"
MARGARET WHITE from CARIE (1976)
Being a physically and emotionally abusive mother is one thing, but throw in utter madness and waaaaaay out of control religious mania and hangups about sex and you have the worst person possible for raising an introverted, socially ostracized girl who has just experienced her first period. Abused, perpetually fearful and practically driven insane by her mother since childhood, poor Carrie's body signalling her ascent into womanhood sets into motion a tragedy of epic proportions, and it does not help that Carrie, denounced by her mother as some sort of Satanic abomination, is a powerful telekinetic... Though nominated for the 1976 Supporting Actress Oscar for this performance, Piper Laurie was denied that honor when the statue went to 12-year-old Jodie Foster as a child prostitute in the excellent TAXI DRIVER. Foster was quite good, but if you ask me Laurie was unfairly robbed and the Academy gave Foster the Oscar because she was a kid playing a whore. NOTE: Actually it was Beatrice Straight who won for NETWORK; I misread the info during my research. Well spotted, Laser Rocket Arm! It's loyal readers like you who keep this blog on its toes.
ELEANOR ISELIN from THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962)
This Oscar-nominated role forever made it impossible for me to think of MURDER, SHE WROTE's Angela Lansbury as anything other than coldly evil. I can't explain why without giving away the intricacies of the film's exceptional plot, so just rent it. TRUST YER BUNCHE on this one.
ROSE-ANN D'ARCY from A PATCH OF BLUE (1965)
In what is my all-time favorite tearjerker movie, Shelley Winters deservedly copped an Oscar for her portrayal of the drunken, uncouth, aging white trash whore who intentionally keeps her blinded-by-acid teenage daughter uneducated and helpless, all while plotting with her best friend (who's another long-in-the-tooth prostitute) to start her own whorehouse with her blind daughter as her first rent girl, partly figuring that it was the logical thing to do since her kid had been "done over" when left alone with one of her mother's horny Johns. Rose-Ann maliciously beats and verbally abuses her daughter, Selina (heartbreakingly played by Elizabeth Hartman), and things only get worse when Selina forms an innocent friendship with Gordon (Sidney Poitier) as she sits alone in the local park, threading beaded necklaces that her mother sells to a local sweatshop. Being blind, Selina at first has no idea that Gordon is black, and since he's the first person who's been kind to her in years, going so far as to teach her basic survival skills over the course of their association, Selina, who's definitely blossoming into full-on womanhood, begins to fall in love with her friend and the feeling is mutual. Then mom finds out... No bullshit, if you have not seen or heard of A PATCH OF BLUE, rent it immediately.