Father’s Day: the hallowed holiday where we celebrate dads everywhere, even the shining examples of fatherhood that see fit to terrorize their offspring as if they were the enemy. Wait! Those aren’t the dads we want to celebrate! They’re part of the problem!
Bad parenting seems to be a bit of a trend when it comes to horror, and we’ve got 13 daddies, a mixed bag of the good and bad, to celebrate the upcoming holiday…and perhaps make you appreciate your own father a little more.
First we celebrate the dedicated dads who’d do anything for their children – as few as there seem to be in fiction, that is.
Rick Grimes, “The Walking Dead”
Actor: Andrew Lincoln
A dedicated father through and through, Rick’s first actions upon waking from his coma are searching for his wife and son in the midst of the zombie apocalypse, which has been raging on at that point for quite some time. Though flawed as a husband and a father, Rick’s always trying to do right by his family, even when he hits a few rough spots along the way. Carl may not be the ideal son, but readers of the comics and viewers of the TV series certainly can’t question the love Rick has for his son.
The Father, Let Me In
Actor: Richard Jenkins
Even though Abby, the child vampire seen in the American remake of cult classic Let the Right One In, isn’t truly his daughter, the lengths The Father will go to in order to ensure her safety are admirable – stalking and murdering victims to retrieve blood to feed Abby. Though his intentions are considerably less noble in Let The Right One In (as portrayed by Per Ragnar), The Father is shown as a caring father figure who only wants to ensure his special companion’s safety…and satiety.
Frank Carveth, The Brood
Actor: Art Hindle
After Frank Carveth starts noticing strange bruises and other marks on his daughter, Candice, after a recent visit with her mother (from whom he’s now divorced on the grounds that she’s insane), he knows something freaky’s going down. And he doesn’t want his daughter to be a part of it, for good reason. David Cronenberg’s delightfully disgusting The Brood spotlights a father who hacks through some particularly unsettling mutant children to get Candice away from her mother and the “psychoplasmically” birthed abominations that resulted from her own mental hangups. Through it all Frank’s focus is on protecting his real offspring. Admirable.
Gomez Addams, “The Addams Family”
Actor: John Astin
Mr. Addams is the father of two very “special” children and the head of quite the unique household. Even still, he’s an enthusiastic and exemplary father, taking a keen interest in all of his children’s activities and interests – when he’s not too busy cavorting with Morticia. Like Pugsley and Wednesday, he’s got a soft spot for toys and other eccentricities himself, and he’s always happy to make sure all of their needs are met, as long as they’re not too bizarre, like wanting to intermingle with the rest of those “normal” people in the neighborhood.
And now, here are the decidedly not-so-thoughtful fathers who could stand to learn a thing or two from their kinder brethren. Seriously, guys. What’s wrong with you all?
Chris Cleek, The Woman
Actor: Sean Bridgers
Lucky McKee’s adaptation of Jack Ketchum’s disturbing novel The Woman (his follow-up to Offspring) follows Chris Cleek, the morally bankrupt patriarch of the Cleeks, a family comprised of meek wife Belle, detached daughter Peggy; deviant son Brian, and innocent Darlin’. After happening upon the titular Woman, a feral human female, on a hunting trip in the woods, Chris takes it upon himself to capture and “civilize” her, by any means necessary. His word is law as he forces every member of the family to pitch in while performing acts on the Woman that range from perverse to inhumane. But that’s not among his worst offenses, which
include cultivating his only son to follow in his sexist footsteps and apparently having impregnated his own daughter, all the while verbally and physically abusing his wife. He gets what’s coming to him in the end but only after agonizing years of inflicting suffering onto the Cleek children.
Nathan Grantham, Creepshow
Actor: Jon Lormer
Nathan, star of Stephen King’s short story “Father’s Day” as seen in Creepshow, is a real piece of work. His family’s rich all right, off of the suffering of others. After emotionally abusing his daughter, Bedelia, for a number of years, treating her like dirt, and capitalizing on the pain he induced on others (not to mention those he murdered and extorted), Bedelia’s finally had enough and offs him with a marble ashtray – on Father’s Day, no less. What’s he do? He has the nerve to come back to life after Bedelia mistakenly spills whiskey upon his grave, moaning and yowling for the Father’s Day cake he was never able to eat – screaming at his daughter to bring it to him. He kills off every last one of his heirs and has the audacity to go after the daughter he abused all her life, all to get at that stupid Father’s Day cake, which he hadn’t earned by any means whatsoever.
Jack Torrance, The Shining
Actor: Jack Nicholson
Technically, Wendy Torrance’s husband, Jack, isn’t completely at fault when it comes to the events that unfold in The Shining, but he’s still carrying them all out. From attacking his wife and son with a variety of weapons, verbal assaults, and other various acts to “correct” their behavior, he’s probably not someone you’d want to leave your child with for an extended period of time. Poor little Danny. Poor Wendy. Shining or not, Jack’s not exactly the most glamorous father you could hope to have.
Don, 28 Weeks Later
Actor: Robert Carlyle
From the very beginning of the movie, Don marks himself as a relatively useless father and husband when he leaves his wife alone with a ravenous group of savages in their now infected cottage. It’s not too much of a stretch to understand how Don quickly turns into a useless, disgusting father once he’s infected as well, pursuing his own children with the intent of killing and snacking on them…without the influence of those bath salts we’ve been hearing so much about lately.
Ed Wilson, Natural Born Killers
Actor:: Rodney Dangerfield
Mallory’s father, Ed Wilson, portrayed by Rodney Dangerfield no less, is the epitome of the American scumbag husband – you know, the one who heckles his wife, expects that his word be law, and violates his daughter on a regular basis. He finally gets what’s coming to him by the time Mickey hits the scene (like, Mickey and Mallory 4-Ever!), but his actions up to the point where Mallory runs away with Mickey are completely inexcusable. The licentious patriarch and his various sexist remarks are made even more creepworthy by the scenes being shot as a sitcom parody.
Gordon Fleming, Session 9
Actor: Peter Mullan
At first glance Session 9’s Gordon doesn’t seem like a bad guy. He’s a new father and loving husband…until you see he likes to slap his wife when she accidentally spills boiling water on him. He’s not so much of a fantastic man then and becomes even less of one at the climax of Session 9 when part of a dissociative personality disorder “tells” him to murder both his wife and small daughter – in fact, that’s actually what had happened all along. A bit of an extreme reaction, wouldn’t you say? Prime candidate for Father of the Year material right here.
Gus Gilbert, Pet Sematary 2
Actor: Clancy Brown
It’s not enough to be a horrible stepfather. Gus Gilbert had to shoot his stepson Drew’s beloved dog Zowie as well. The overbearing, rude town sheriff receives his just desserts, but that doesn’t excuse him from being an absolute nightmare of a stepfather to deal with, verbally abusing Drew and assaulting him with vicious comments over and over throughout his initially short life. He doesn’t get away with being a truly pathetic excuse for a human being thankfully, but he’s just another example of someone who should never be given the responsibility of raising children.
The Stepfather, The Stepfather
Actor: Terry O’Quinn
Terry O’Quinn in the titular role couldn’t have been a better choice in the 1987 chiller The Stepfather. This man is all over the map when it comes to playing the role of doting father and convincing con man, going out of his way to show stepdaughter Stephanie he’s the real deal and showering her with gifts like a brand new puppy. The facade fades when Stephanie is suspicious of him and begins to question what exactly is fishy about her mother’s new beau. Things go horribly awry when the Stepfather decides Stephanie must be silenced as he sets about killing not only her but also the puppy he gave to her as a gift.
Henry Spencer, Eraserhead
Actor: Jack Nance
It’s pretty clear from the onset of Eraserhead (when most things in the surrealist flick aren’t) that Henry Spencer isn’t exactly pleased with his relationship or the fact that he’s basically been forced into marrying his girlfriend due to her sudden pregnancy. In Henry’s defense, his child is a strange, misshapen mutant creature that most certainly doesn’t seem human, but that doesn’t excuse his eventual cutting into the creature with a pair of scissors and basically abandoning it.
Share your picks for the best and worst below, and Happy Father’s Day to all you dads in the Dread Central family!
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