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November 22, 2010

Hey, Midnight Warriors....Let's Talk About Mothers!

I've been doing a lot of thinking about mothers lately.  Specifically, mine.  She had a birthday this weekend, and by the time you're all reading this in the morning I'll be sitting nervously in a hospital as she fights against a second dose of The Disease Which Shall Not Be Named.  Of course, I know we'll come out the other side OK - any Masha awesome enough to birth me is awesome enough to beat this gunk - but it's still had me thinking. 
I know it will come as a shock to most of you, but when I think I tend to gravitate toward horror films.  And when I started to think about mothers and horror films, I was surprised to find that there aren't a lot of positive examples of awesome mothers.  I'm just rolling this off the top of my head, but they're a hard bunch to read.

Looking back at the Universal Monster films that most claim started the horror craze, there aren't many mothers to be found.  Frankenstein's Monster is perhaps horror's most famous motherless child, and we don't hear Bela Lugosi's Dracula waxing about his mother either.  Lon Chaney Jr. only has memories of his mother while papa Claude Rains has to deal with his Wolf side, and my beloved Creature from the Black Lagoon has no Gill-Mama to be found.  Considering that most of the films of this era were built to shock audiences that were less jaded than we are, perhaps the filmmakers felt mothers would provide unneeded security to the viewers.
Psycho is of course the home of horror's most famous mother.  You most likely already know that this film presents the mother as an overbearing and vicious character, and there's little love to be found.  What people don't often consider is that Marion Crane, whose actions set the film in motion, is also affected by the memory of her mother, going out of her way to point out that her relationship couldn't occur with her mother's portrait on the wall.  While we know that Norman Bates is influenced by his mom, it's safe to say that the guilt which leads Marion to crime could be at least partially due to the morals her mother preached toward her.  Hitchcock also focused on mother issues in his other horror film, The Birds, where Tippi Hedren's awkward relationship with Jessica Tandy adds to the tension of her situation.

In the late 1960s and the 1970s mothers stepped up in the horror world - just don't remind Night of the Living Dead's Johnny and Barbara, who were sent to their demise on an errand for their mother.  Rosemary Woodhouse might be as loyal to her Baby as any mother out there, even if she definitely had some trouble warming up to the role of mother.  The Exorcist's Chris MacNeil also went to extremes to protect her child, though she did end up turning the reigns over to not one but TWO Fathers when the soup hit the fan.  The Omen's Kathy Thorn unfortunately struggled to accept motherhood, and it's clear that little Damien didn't like the harsh words flung at his biologically mother. 
The modern slasher craze also neglected to give motherhood a positive spin.  Laurie Strode's mother does not appear in Halloween, and Michael Myers' mother just stares dumbfounded as her father unveils his first kill.  Jason Voorhees' mother is another dedicated mother, but her methods aren't exactly comforting.  I think we're best not to start on Ronee Blakely's take on motherhood in A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Wes Craven would continue to blame mothers for their daughters' plights when Scream came around.

I guess my point is pretty obvious - Mothers don't seem to have the best track record in horror films.  But I also know that my gaze is pretty narrow when I'm spitballing.  So I want to hear from you, Midnight Warriors!  I don't really have a specific question here, so feel free to come up with whatever you can about mothers in horror.  Perhaps you have a favorite horror mother who I forgot. or want to sing the praises of an evil horror mother?  Maybe you have your own theories about why mothers seem to be so poorly represented in horror?  Whatever you got, I want to hear it!  Consider it Mothers of Horror time at FMWL!
As always, there are two ways you can participate.  If you have your own site, post something, send me the link, and I'll post it in a wrap-up post here.  If you don't, or if you'd rather not use your own site, just send me a write-up (Anything from one paragraph to a full post is welcome), and I'll post it here too!  Of course, all credit will be given to each Midnight Warrior who contributes, and sites can earn a spot in the list of previous Midnight Warriors listed on the right side of the page!  (If you want to see what The Midnight Warriors have done in the past, or want to find some Midnight Warrior banners and badges for your own use, CLICK HERE!)

I'll accept entries through December 5th, and in the meantime I'll be covering mothers in a few posts here too!  Just send your posts/links to The Mike at frommidnightwithlove gmail com by the 5th, and let's celebrate the good and the bad mother....



Morgan said...

This is an excellent idea! Where would we be without our awesome mothers? I'll see what this Midnight Warrior can do.

So sorry to hear about your mother. I hope everything goes well.

Jinx said...

Brilliant idea! Mums are awesome and should be celebrated.
Lots of love to you and Masha. Sending you both the very best and warmest of wishes.

Enbrethiliel said...


The Mike, I'm very sorry to hear about your mother. Best wishes to your whole family! I dedicate my response to this Midnight Warrior Challenge to her.

The Mike said...

Thanks all. It's been a long and stressful road, but things are looking positive after today - just got some test results to hear and recovery time to complete. It'll take a lot more to keep The Masha down!

Can't wait to see what everyone comes up with!

Anonymous said...

As always, I am soooo on this!
Dreaded Dreams
Petunia Scareum

Emily Louise Church said...

Count me in! Wishing you well. x