In honor of Father’s Day, this next post is all about horror’s “bad dads”. We hope your dads are bit nicer and less homicidal than the ones that follow.
1. Jack Torrence (The Shining, 1980) – Arguably the scariest dad of them all, writer Jack Torrence (played by Jack Nicholson) takes a temporary position as caretaker of an isolated hotel during its off-season, where his family will join him. It should be an easy job, and Jack plans to work on his novel during his extensive downtime. Instead of writing, however, he stalks his own wife and clairvoyant son under the influence of the ghosts of people who perished in the malevolent hotel. Torrence is truly terrifying as his mental clarity disintegrates and he succumbs to the whims of the hotel’s menacing undead. Ultimately wife and son must find a way to put a stop to Jack’s homicidal tendencies.
2. George Lutz (Amityville Horror, 1979) – It is never, ever a good idea to move into a home where savage murders have taken place. You just might become homicidal yourself. Like The Shining’s Jack Torrence, George Lutz (James Brolin) begins to see spiritual manifestations after moving into a new home with his wife and children – which just so happens to have been the site of a multiple homicide. These apparitions have a lethal agenda and they want James to help them. If your dad comes at you with an axe, run the other way!
3. David Harris (The Stepfather, 2009) – When Michael Harding (played by Penn Badgley) returns home from military school, he learns that his mother has a new boyfriend. David Harris (Dylan Walsh) seems like perfect husband material – a charming widower who claims that he lost his wife and daughter in a car accident. But David has some secrets from his past and they’re quite unsavory. Michael’s suspicions begin when he catches David referring to his deceased daughter by the wrong name. He continues to question David’s background and motives when David lies about his college history, and installs padlocked cabinets in the basement, the contents of which he keeps secret and carefully guards. A warning: if you catch your mom’s boyfriend in multiple lies about his past, he’s probably a crazy psycho killer – kill him and then make sure he’s actually dead!
4. Captain Spaulding (The Devil’s Rejects, 2005) – A follow-up to the 2003 Rob Zombie film House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects revisits the sadistic Fireflys, a family of sick and twisted murderers. The clan of deranged serial killers is led by their father Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), a bizarre redneck who wears clown makeup and runs a nearby shop of horrors and oddities. When the cops stage a seige on the Fireflys’ home and arrest Mother Firefly, Baby and Otis B. Driftwood escape and arrange to seek shelter with the father who raised them to be the vicious killers they are. Captain Spaulding and his kids go on a killing rampage as they attempt to evade the law.
5. Ellison Oswalt (Sinister, 2012) – Though he didn’t actually murder anyone, I would say that Ellison Oswalt (played by Ethan Hawke) is one of the worst fathers of horror ever. Oswalt is a washed up crime writer who had one huge hit several years back, but has since fallen out of the limelight. He badly needs a new hit to put himself back on the radar and make some major dinero. Oswalt puts his own family in serious danger and jeopardy by moving them into a home where a recent murder has taken place. An entire family, except for one daughter, have been savagely murdered – hung by a tree in their own backyard. The murderer is at large and no one knows where the missing girl has disappeared to. The townsfolk find Oswalt’s desire to write about the murders and move into the deceased’s home to be in extremely poor taste, but he doesn’t care. When he discovers the footage from the murder that took place in the home, as well as some extremely disturbing footage from other similar murders, he realizes that there is a serial killer on the loose. A smart man would take his family far, far away and fast. Instead Oswalt completely disregards the safety of his own family in favor of uncovering the truth of the murders to write his bestseller. He and his family meet and unfortunate an bloody end as a result of his extreme selfishness and thirst for fame.
Do you have a favorite father of horror that didn’t make the list? Let us know who and why he should be on the list. And Happy Father’s Day to all you Dads out there!