For every "good" onscreen mom, who made chicken soup and gave cute haircuts, there's a not-so-good one, who may have put a little arsenic in that soup or used those scissors to cut, um, other things.
So instead of celebrating those wonderful onscreen moms, let's hear it for the moms who aren't so loving, can be horribly manipulative, or are even downright homicidal -- the celluloid mothers we love to hate.
Onscreen Moms We Love to Hate
Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway)
Movie: “Mommie Dearest”
Her parenting skills (or lack thereof): We all know by now the story of screen legend Joan Crawford: how she started her career as a silent screen star, then became box office poison but eventually made a huge comeback. Yet it wasn't until her fair-haired adoptive daughter Christina wrote a book about her very mean mommie that we discovered just how screwed up Joan really was. Dunaway's performance as the grand dame is incomparable. “No. Wire. HANGARS!!” Classic.
Deirdre Burroughs (Annette Bening)
Movie: “Running with Scissors”
Her parenting skills (or lack thereof): Deirdre's quest to become the next great American author means she keeps her young son Augusten (Joseph Cross) home from school so he can listen and applaud her for all her off-the-wall scribbling. But then ships him off to her psychiatrist and his dysfunctional family the minute his needs eclipse her creativity and become too much of a burden.
Lilly Dillon (Anjelica Huston)
Movie: “The Grifters”
Her parenting skills (or lack thereof): She's a tough one, this Lilly. A grifter all her life, she had her son very young. The fact she used to call Roy (John Cusack) her “brother” and probably forced him to do more than a few nefarious things certainly doesn't earn her the “Mother of the Year” award. She does try to make amends with him later in life, but it's far too late for that.
Viola Field (Jane Fonda)
Her parenting skills (or lack thereof): Can we say needy? Of course the conniving and vain Viola is going to have a tough time losing her veteran news anchor job and accepting the fact her son (Michael Vartan) has found the right woman (Jennifer Lopez). But her desperate desire to cling to her only child just isn't very healthy — for anyone. Cut the umbilical chord, woman!
Beth Jarrett (Mary Tyler Moore)
Movie: “Ordinary People”
Her parenting skills (or lack thereof): Beth thought she had the perfect life, until her favorite son drowns in a boating accident, while his younger brother, Conrad (Timothy Hutton) survives. Now bitter and heartbroken, Beth is left with Conrad, who just wants a little compassion from his mom. He even tries to commit suicide as he is so guilt-ridden by his brother's death. But he's not going to get it from Beth. No sir, she has shut down emotionally. So cold.
Ingrid Magnussen (Michelle Pfeiffer)
Movie: “White Oleander”
Her parenting skills (or lack thereof): As an exceptionally brilliant poet and painter, Ingrid also has a penchant for picking the wrong guys. And when one of them burns her badly, she decides to take matters into her own hands by poisoning him using the elixir of her favorite flower, the white oleander. Now sentenced to life in prison, she leaves her impressionable teenager daughter, Astrid (Alison Lohman), in the hands of the foster care program, while still trying to control her.
Momma (Anne Ramsey)
Movie: “Throw Momma From the Train”
Her parenting skills (or lack thereof): Momma doesn't have much in her life, but what breathe she has left, she uses to mercilessly berate her only son Owen (Danny DeVito). So much so, that Owen makes an imaginary pact with his fiction writing teacher Larry (Billy Crystal) to swap murders — Owen will kill Larry's ex-wife if Larry kills his horrible mamma. By throwing her off the train.
Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft)
Movie: “The Graduate”
Her parenting skills (or lack thereof): She's rich. She's attractive. And she's bored out of her mind. So, instead of maybe taking up tennis or golf lessons, Mrs. Robinson seduces Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), the son of her best friends. Why? Because she can. Not only does Mrs. Robinson nearly ruin Ben's psyche with their philandering, but the woman almost ruins any chance of happiness that her daughter, Elaine (Katherine Ross), may have with Ben after they fall in love. Jealous much?
Margaret White (Piper Laurie)
Her parenting skills (or lack thereof): Oh my goodness, what a seriously disturbed woman Margaret is. Psychotically religious, she has raised her daughter, Carrie (Sissy Spacek), in near isolation. And since Carrie doesn't know a whole lot about the world, it causes her all kinds of grief at school. But what Margaret and the rest don't know is that Carrie has telekinetic powers — and you really don't want to get her angry.
Norman Bates' Mother (um, Anthony Perkins?)
Er, Her parenting skills (or lack thereof): Well, there's isn't much to know about Norman's mother except the fact she was clingy and demanding and kept her son very close to her after his father died. That is until she met another man and Norman snapped, thinking she “threw him over” for her new lover. Thus sealing her doom when Norman murders her and sticks her in the fruit cellar to rot. When Norman is “Mother,” we hear her belittling and humiliating Norman over and over again, telling him he could never have a girlfriend as pretty as Janet Leigh. So she might as well slash her open in the shower.