Father's Day is this Sunday, and what better way to celebrate than to take a look at some of the most terrifying fathers from horror films! I did this last month for the scariest moms from horror movies for Mother's Day and now it is time to take a look at the worst dads in horror! Please note that there may be spoilers below that give away key plot points, so consider yourself warned...
Check out my list of the 15 Scariest Horror Movie Dads below:
1.) Jack Torrance, The Shining (1980) - For me, Jack Torrance played by Jack Nicholson, is the scariest father in horror. His descent into madness and evil at The Overlook Hotel is truly terrifying, and his emotional abuse of his wife and son (that eventually escalates to physical abuse, and you know, him trying to kill them) is horrifying.
2.) Jerry Blake, The Stepfather (1987) - Jerry, played by Terry O'Quinn, just wants a perfect family - and he is willing to kill for anyone that threatens his traditional family values. This 1987 film (don't bother with the remake) is loosely based on killer John List, who murdered his family in 1971, then disappeared and created a whole new identity and even re-married before being captured many years later. The Stepfather even spawned some sequels, which I haven't seen.
3.) Nathan Grantham, "Father's Day" segment of Creepshow (1982) - This overbearing, demanding father (played by Jon Lormer) just keeps hassling his offspring, even beyond the grave! Bedelia killed her father when she just couldn't take his emotional abuse anymore, but he returns as a putrid, maggot-infested corpse for revenge (and cake). Another insufferable father from Creepshow that deserves a mention is the dad (played by Tom Atkins) that yells at his kid for reading horror comics in the wrap-around segment of the film.
4.) Dad Meiks, Frailty (2001) - A father, played by Bill Paxton (who also directed), who teaches his kids to murder "demons" must be bad, right? In flashbacks told by one of the sons, we get a feeling that dear old dad was off his rocker and forced his kids to participate in his "demon" killing, which obviously screwed up his kids' heads. However, there may be more to the story than meets the eye (or is there?) in this underrated psychological horror film.
5.) "Daddy," The People Under the Stairs (1991) - While he is not a biological father, "Daddy" (Everett McGill) likes to kidnap and punish neighborhood children with "Mommy" (who is actually his sister). When kidnapped children break his rules, they get punished and thrown in the basement where they are forced to resort to cannibalism. "Daddy" and "Mommy" also have a "daughter" they kidnapped and are raising as their own. Ummmm and "Daddy" also enjoys wearing a full bondage suit around the house. You know, regular dad stuff - except he is seriously demented!
6.) Chris Cleek, The Woman (2011) - This dad (played by Sean Bridgers) seems like the perfect suburban father, but he likes to imprison, rape, and torture a feral women from the woods and force his whole family to participate. Out of all the dads on this list, he probably bothers me the most and it is so satisfying to watch when he gets his comeuppance.
7.) Louis Creed, Pet Sematary (1989) - Sure, Louis (Dale Midkiff) does what he does out of grief and love, and he's not necessarily a bad dad to his son and daughter, but he just had to go messing with old burial grounds that bring the dead back from the grave, and for that he won't be winning father of the year. In fact, everything he tries to do to make things better and alleviate the grief of losing a child only ends up making things worse...much worse. He may be the most sympathetic dad on the list, but it doesn't excuse his tragic choices.
8.) Brent Ryan, Mom and Dad (2017) - When something causes parents to snap and try to kill their offspring, dad Brent Ryan (played by Nicolas Cage) unleashes all his pent-up rage at his two kids. No one does crazy as well as Nic Cage, and this black comedy/horror lets him go nuts in the best way! The resentment that he and his wife (Selma Blair) let loose on their kids once they become "infected" is one of the many reasons why I'll never have kids.
9.) Docteur Génessier, Eyes Without A Face (1960) - Played by Pierre Brasseur, this father and surgeon will do anything for his little girl that was disfigured in a fire...including murdering other women to get her the perfect face. This film is a classic, and the daughter's masked face throughout the film is just eerie. It begs the question how far would you go and how much would you sacrifice for your child?
10.) Don, 28 Weeks Later (2007) - This cowardly jerk, played by Robert Carlyle, means well, but he runs away at the sign of trouble (which means leaving his wife to die), lies to his kids about their mother's death, and ends up infected and spreading the zombie infection all over again - all the while hunting down his kids.
11.) "Daddy," The Loved Ones (2009) - Another father (this one played by John Brumpton) who will do anything for his Princess, including helping his daughter kidnap and torture her crush who turned her down when she asked him to the school dance. She throws her own school dance full of torture and mayhem with her dad proudly watching and helping out when necessary. That's what dads are for, right?!
12.) Harry Cooper, Night of the Living Dead (1968) - Harry (played by Karl Hardman) is just trying to look out for his wife and daughter during the zombie apocalypse, but does he have to be such a pain in the ass about it to the other survivors? Not to mention, his daughter is infected and she ends up killing dear old dad for all his pains to keep her safe.
13.) George Lutz, The Amityville Horror (1979) - George Lutz (James Brolin) moves his family into a new house even though murders were committed there just a year ago. He quickly goes a little mad, gets increasingly aggressive with his family, and starts trying to kill them all. Love you too, dad!
14.) Mr. Parker, The Sentinel (1977) - This evil, philandering dad (played by Fred Stuthman) totally messed up his daughter, considering she walked in on him and two sex workers smearing cake all over each other when she was younger. Now deceased, he starts to haunt her nightmares when she moves into a new, creepy apartment building.
15.) "Dad," Mum and Dad (2008) - This gritty and brutal film features a family that kidnaps and tortures victims at the behest of their patriarch, played by Perry Benson. There are some particularly nasty scenes in this film, and you definitely would not want to call this father "Dad," especially since his "family" consists of young kids he has kidnapped with the help of his wife "Mum."
These are my picks for 15 of the most dreadful dads in horror - what are yours?
Happy Father's Day and stay spooky!