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Mothers, eh? Where would we be without them? They nurture and guide us through life as best as they can and ask for little in return … unless they’re in horror movies of course. In which case they’re just as likely to manipulate their offspring, produced killing machines, or slaughter innocent victims themselves.

Darren Aronofsky’s new mind-bender “mother!” is out very shortly. According to early opinions it is something of a harrowing affair, with that nice young Jennifer Lawrence in a relationship with the shifty Javier Bardem, and having her house invaded by a gang of strangers. We’ve tried to avoid as many spoilers online as possible, and you can expect a review when it’s out. So we don’t know plot specifics, although all preview feedback so far has been amazingly positive. But we do know it’s got something to do with babies and motherhood … or it’s been very poorly titled indeed.

So we’re going to use that as a thinly veiled excuse to present 10 of the best “Bad Moms” in the genre. Characters you shouldn’t trust with children … or sharp objects. It’s a purely subjective list, so if we’ve missed one of your favourites or you have an opinion, please share in the comments section.

But we have to go in now; our Mum’s calling us in ….

Norma Bates
(Olivia Hussey, Vera Farmiga & … err … Anthony Perkins + Freddie Highmore)
Psycho franchise + Bates Motel

The ultimate bad mother … or is she? She’s the only character here that’s played by different actresses … and decaying corpses and cross-dressing actors. Depending on which film you see and which character you believe, she’s either a manipulative old harridan who drives her son insane with her nagging and nastiness, or she’s a misunderstood and troubled woman who inadvertently creates a monster with her overprotective love.

Let’s start with the original “Psycho”. The “Norma Bates” that we meet here (ignoring the literal mummy in the basement) is another personality in Norman Bate’s (Perkins) head. If that was indicative of the real person, then she was a horrible old hag who belittled Norman and drove him to matricide. But we’ve only got his perception of that version, so she might not have been that bad. Things get complicated in “Psycho II” however, when we meet [*Spoiler*] Norman’s “real” mother (Norma being his aunt apparently), and this Mommy IS a bad egg. She’s thoroughly psychotic and totally homicidal. After Norman being mad again in Part 3, “Psycho IV: The Beginning” elaborates on Norma’s (Hussey) upbringing of the young Psycho, and confirms that she was indeed a nasty piece of work who suffered from mental disorders, forced him to cross-dress as a punishment and was responsible for his breakdown. We’ll forget about the Gus Van Sant remake shall we?

The TV series “Bates Motel” puts an entirely new and sympathetic spin on Norma (Farmiga). Yes, she is a disturbed woman and has some mental frailty. She even kills a couple of people, but it’s only ever in self-defence and she’s more a victim of circumstance. Norma is over-protective of Norman again certainly, however it’s due to the fact that she recognises his psychosis and she’s initially unwilling to face up to it. In the end, she’s shown as a vibrant woman who is on the verge of finding happiness and peace, until her son snatches it away from her by committing jealous murder. Her end is actually kind of heart-breaking, and the version that takes her place in the psyche of Freddie Highmore’s interpretation of Norman is another spiteful and destructive maternal construct.

Defining moment - The very final scene of “Psycho” with Norma completely dominating Norman and grinning at the camera (“Why … she wouldn’t even harm a fly”).