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Worst movie moms

While Hollywood has produced some wonderful maternal figures, all too often silver-screen mothers don’t know best (see: Mo’Nique’s abusive Mary in ‘Precious’). Our writers weigh in on five other memorably bad mommies

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1. Beverly Sutphin
Serial Mom, 1994
Yes, there are plenty of domineering mothers, but Beverly Sutphin (Kathleen Turner) is downright sociopathic. Playing a suburban serial killer who murders her neighbors over the smallest offenses (one victim dared to wear white after Labor Day), Turner is saccharine and psychotic in pearls. As one character eloquently puts it, ”She’s armed. And f—in’ nuts!” —Marc Snetiker

2. Momma
Throw Momma from the Train, 1987
Like some nightmarish interpretation of Ma Kettle, Anne Ramsey and her wizened scowl terrified us as The Goonies‘ criminal matriarch, and again as the ”Momma” Danny DeVito wants jettisoned from a locomotive in his comedic version of Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train. It takes just a few scenes of her high-decibel nagging before you’re agreeing whole- heartedly with the titular imperative. —Keith Staskiewicz

3. Eleanor Shaw Iselin
The Manchurian Candidate, 1962
As the scheming wife of a Commie-baiting senator, and the overbearing mother to a fragile war hero (Laurence Harvey), Angela Lansbury is unrecognizable to those who know her only from Murder, She Wrote. And that’s before we learn her character’s a Soviet spy who lets her son become a brainwashed assassin. —Adam B. Vary

4. Pamela Voorhees
Friday the 13th, 1980
If you poll 10 people asking who the killer is in Friday the 13th, nine will answer: Jason. They’d be wrong. The blood-soaked body-count flick is way more oedipal than that, thanks to Betsy Palmer’s creepily maternal, fisherman-sweatered slasher, Pamela Voorhees. There are lots of parents who’ll tell you that they’d kill for their kids. Here’s one who actually means it. —Chris Nashawaty

5. Olivia Winfield
Flowers in the Attic, 1987
The ”flowers” in question are four innocent children imprisoned and starved in their wealthy grandparents’ mansion. It’s hard to pinpoint the more despicable character in this adaptation of V.C. Andrews’ 1979 book: the kids’ selfish, weak-willed parent Corinne (Victoria Tennant) or Corinne’s own religious-zealot mother, Olivia (Louise Fletcher). But Olivia — who devises the cruel plan, horsewhips Corinne, and gives granddaughter Cathy (Kristy Swanson) the most traumatic haircut ever — gets the edge. —Lanford Beard