Female Trouble (1974): The annals of cinema are packed with awful parents. Thing is, there’s usually just one: Carrie White’s mom, Mallory Knox’s dad, Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate. Surely two evil parents is worse. Divine’s Dawn Davenport—one of many, many questionable caretakers in the John Waters canon—is a poor enough mother to teenager Taffy (Mink Stole) even before she weds scuzzy stylist Gator (Michael Potter). When Taffy catches them in bed, Gator naturally asks her to join the festivities.
Time Bandits (1981): Little Kevin’s parents are so enraptured with their swanky TV and appliances they don’t notice their imaginative son has ventured into a series of time portals with a gang of midgets. Is their abrupt explosion at the end really such a bad thing? This wasn’t the last time Terry Gilliam explored casual parenting: Tideland ’s Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Tilly both OD before the second act, leaving their bright daughter alone in a remote house.
Parents (1989): Well before he and his own wife descended into conjoined insanity, Randy Quaid gave a miraculously sinister performance as a dad who, along with wife Mary Beth Hurt, feeds his blank-faced son human meat.
The People Under the Stairs (1991): Twin Peaks’ Big Ed (Everett McGill) and Nadine (Wendy Robie) reunite as sibling lovers who procreate frequently but critically: Any inbred child born with imperfections is summarily sent to the basement. And it’s packed down there.
Matilda (1996): Director Danny DeVito doesn’t hold back on the atrocities carried out by Roald Dahl’s most heinous parents (played by DeVito and Rhea Perlman), who are so openly hostile to their daughter’s precocious intelligence that they only allow her to attend school once they discover the principal is a sadistic, child-hurling beast.
Dogtooth (2009): A trio of 20-somethings—a fourth was ostracized due to disobedience—have been raised by their parents to never leave their massive estate, having been fed lies about the horrors of the outside world. Like that cute cats kill. Or that “pussy” means a big lamp. Or that Frank Sinatra is their grandfather. Justly Oscar-nominated, this Greek bugfuck is on Netflix Instant. Watch it now.
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