Thanksgiving is here in the US, and many of us will be spending some quality time with our families. But as they say, you can choose your friends but not your family, and not everyone will be looking forward to seeing their relatives this week. However, it could be worse.
When it comes to terrible families, the horror genre contains some of the weirdest, scariest, and most depraved ones imaginable. From inbred cannibal clans to psychotic murdering siblings, horror filmmakers love to use the family unit to shock and terrify. There’s something about the dysfunctional family dynamic that frequently drew filmmakers such as Rob Zombie and Wes Craven to make movies that explore it, and satirical takes on the family unit have proven a great source of satirical scares over the years. So to possibly make you feel better about your own family, we’ve gathered together the scariest horror movie families of all time.
For more Thanksgiving-related horror galleries on GameSpot, check out our list of the scariest movie road trips ever. And if you want something slightly more wholesome, we’ve also got a Thanksgiving guide to the messiest food fights.
12. The Jupiters (The Hills Have Eyes)
The Jupiter clan is the mutant cannibal family which lives in the unforgiving surroundings of the Mojave Desert in Wes Craven’s classic survival horror. Papa Jupiter and his kids Mars, Pluto, and Mercury just love to kidnap, rob, and murder tourists, ensuring a fun time for all.
11. The Bates (Psycho)
As anyone who has seen Alfred Hitchcock’s scary classic knows, there’s actually only one member of Bates family alive in Psycho–young Norman, who runs the family motel. But in his deranged mind, his sick mom lives in the attic and orders him around all day. Of course, she’s long dead, leaving Norman to dress like her and pick off the guests with a big knife.
10. The Myers (Halloween 2007)
One of the most controversial changes that Rob Zombie made in his remake of John Carpenter’s Halloween was to give Michael Myers a backstory. He’s no longer a normal middle class kid–he grew up in a terrible household with a stripper mom and abusive stepdad, all of which led him to a life of a killing on Halloween while wearing a mask.
9. The Laemles (Parents)
Actor Bob Balaban’s directing debut is set in the 1950s and focuses on a ten-year-old boy named Michael who is convinced that his parents are cannibals. Much of the movie’s success relies on the audience being unsure if mom and dad–played by Mary Beth Hurt and Randy Quaid–are really the flesh-munching monsters that Michael imagines them to be. Spoiler: they very much are.
8. The Mantles (Dead Ringers)
Working with family members can be tricky, as David Cronenberg’s disturbing psychological drama painfully reveals. Jeremy Irons is incredible as Elliot and Beverly Mantle, twin gynecologists who use their different personalities but identical appearances to seduce their patients. It all ends tragically in drug addiction, madness, and death.
7. Mother and Sons (Mother’s Day)
This sleazy 1980 exploitation satire was produced by shlockmeisters Troma and banned in the UK for many years. It features some seriously depraved activities from Mother and her two adult sons, who will do anything for mom. They’re not actually given names, but their behavior speaks for itself–rape, torture, and murder. Fun fact: Mother’s Day was shot at the same time as the original Friday the 13th, on the same lake in New Jersey.
6. The Whites (Carrie)
It would be hard for any teenage girl to grow up normally with a mom like Margaret White, a tyrannical religious fanatic who believes the Devil is out to corrupt her only child. But when you also possess terrifying telekinetic powers, it’s a recipe for a descent into bloody prom mayhem and knife-levitating revenge.
5. The Parkers (We Are What We Are)
In Jim Mickle’s superb remake of the Mexican film of the same title focuses on a cannibal family which is left with the problem of finding their next meal when the father dies, as it had been his role to provide for them. They set about trying to kidnap people from the local town, with varying degrees of success. It’s not their fault, they’re just hungry!
4. The Robesons (The People Under the Stairs)
To the outside world, Mr. and Mrs. Robeson are a married couple with a daughter named Alice who are landlords of an apartment in a poor Los Angeles neighborhood. In fact, they are a depraved brother and sister from a long line of inbred lunatics who keep dozens of children imprisoned under their house for breaking their rules. Alice is the only kidnapped child allowed to live above ground and sets about causing their downfall in Wes Craven’s satirical shocker.
3. The Merryes (Spider Baby)
Ralph, Virginia, and Elizabeth Merryes are the murderous orphaned kids looked after in a creepy Gothic house in Jack Hill’s 1967 cult favorite Spider Baby. When some distant family members turn up to claim the house, the Merryes kids break out the knives, tarantulas, and dynamite to help keep the place for themselves.
2. The Fireflys (House of 1000 Corpses/The Devil’s Rejects/3 From Hell)
The depraved gang from Rob Zombies grindhouse horror trilogy aren’t all technically related, but they operate as a family unit. The name “Firefly” is taken from the 1933 Marx Brothers movie Duck Soup, with each member–Captain Spaulding, Otis Driftwood, Baby, Tiny–also adopting a name from characters in Marx movies. But unlike the Marx brothers, they’re more interested in torture and murder you than make us laugh.
1. The Sawyers (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre)
The Sawyers are the terrifying Texan cannibal clan in Tobe Hooper’s 1974 scary masterpiece. Like many aspiring American families, they run a small business–a gas station–and had steady jobs (in the local abattoir) before it was shut down. They love having guests over to their house too, making them the perfect family to sit down with on Thanksgiving–as long as you don’t mind being served up as dinner.
Source: Game Spot Mashup