These range from the stomach-turning to the chuckle-inducing.
1. Mary in Precious (2009), played by Mo’Nique. She allows her daughter to be sexually abused by the girl’s father and then jealously blames the child for the man’s loss of interest in the mom. She turns the daughter into a slave to take care of the household by cooking, running errands, caring for her baby sister and even sexually servicing the mom. It doesn’t get any worse than this. It’s a hellish character, and Mo’Nique rose to the task with an Oscar-winning performance.
2. Ellen Berent Harland in Leave Her to Heaven (1945), played by Gene Tierney. Technically, she’s a step-sister, but she fills the role of disturbed stepmother to her husband’s disabled little brother. She rows him out to middle of the lake and drowns him. Tierney said that she played the role as an insane person desperately trying to appear sane.
3. Hélène, the Mother in Ma Mere (2004), played by Isabelle Huppert. After her husband’s death, she finally pays some attention to her teen son after years of indifference. First, she introduces him to various sexual deviancies with her Euroslut friends. Then, she kills herself with a box cutter while masturbating him.
4. Margaret White in Carrie (1976), played by Piper Laurie. It’s not enough to isolate her daughter in a cauldron of warped religious zealotry and bring her up with the absence of any social skills. She can’t even tell her about the normalcy of menstruation. Since her daughter has special powers, there will be hell to pay.
5. Janine ‘Smurf’ Cody in Animal Kingdom (2010), played by Jacki Weaver. She’s relentlessly upbeat, but she commands her sons in a criminal gang and puts out a contract on her own grandson. In my book, ordering a hit on a grandchild is pretty depraved.
6. Joanne in Fish Tank (2010), played by Kierston Wareing. Joanne is a selfish loser and a drunk, who completely ignores and neglects her daughters. Her partying has consequences when she brings home a tipsy, horny boyfriend and passes out, leaving him with her budding teen daughter.
7. Mrs. Eleanor Shaw Iselin in The Manchurian Candidate (1962), played by Angela Lansbury. Not only is she promoting the political career of her bombastic Joe McCarthy-like husband, but she is a Communist agent intent on the Communist takeover of the US government. And the conspiracy is to be implemented by her own son, who has been brainwashed by Communist Chinese to become a ruthlessly efficient political assassin acting on direction from his mother.
8. Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest (1981), played by Faye Dunaway. It’s all about her – the glamorous and rich movie star needs her child to accommodate the mom’s lifestyle, not the other way around. Otherwise, terrifyingly abusive tantrums ensue. This movie actually turned the ordinary wire coat hanger into a catch phrase. This Worst Movie Mom has the distinction of being based on a real mom.
9. Momma in Throw Mama from the Train (1987), played by Anne Ramsey. This comic take on Strangers on a Train depends on Ramsey’s performance as a thoroughly repellent mom who is making the life of her dutiful son (Danny DeVito) unbearably miserable. The audience howls as she checks every box on the checklist of obnoxiousness.
10. Allison in Trainspotting (1996), played by Susan Vidler. She’s hanging out with her junkie friends in a heroin stupor while her infant dies of neglect.
11. Lady Tremaine (The Evil Stepmother) in Cinderella (1950), voiced by Eleanor Audley. When your character is nicknamed The Evil Stepmother, you belong on the list. She despises her step-daughter and treats her like a slave. She’s a Bad Movie Mom icon.
12. Wanda Holloway in The Positively True Adventures of the Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom (1993), played by Holly Hunter. Here’s a mom who isn’t mean to her own daughter, but is willing to murder her child’s rival for a spot on the cheerleading team. This is the second Worst Movie Mom to be based on a real mom.