Killer Dads: five movie dads you probably shouldn't mess with
Being a dad is tough, which is why, in honor of Father's Day, we're honoring the dads whose families have literally driven them to the brink of insanity (or further). Relax. It's only movie dads we're talking about here -- your dad probably won't go crazy and kill you this Sunday. Then again, as my own sage father always says when I'm obsessing about something beyond my control: there are no guarantees in life. Now, here's our list of the best killer dads known to Hollywood.
Scream for Help
What is it about the '80s and awesomely trashy B-list horror cult classics? When it comes to shedding blood and guts of the familial kind, Paul Fox, the seemingly normal stepfather played by David Allen Brooks in Scream for Help (1984), isn't effing around. Well, no, technically he is effing around. Good old Paul's cheating on his new wife; when his curious teenage stepdaughter stumbles upon the indiscretion, things get messy as Paul attempts to slay his new family. But let's be real: the highs and lows of stepfather-hood were probably what drove this devilish daddy to cheat (and ultimately kill) in the first place.
Some dads just can't handle the everyday disappointments associated with father- and husband-hood, which are what's to blame for Terry O'Quinn's behavior in 1987's The Stepfather (that and the fact that the man's also a raging sociopath). When things aren't going his way, O'Quinn habitually murders his families and then starts over. Don't even think about screaming "you're not my real dad" next time your own stepfather tells you to finish your leftover vegan meatloaf.
You know what they say: never trust a dad who makes poor real estate investments. (Ok, this isn't actually a saying, but it should be.) Poppa Lutz, played by James Brolin in the original Amityville Horror (1979), isn't just bad at picking out real estate. He's also prone to being possessed when faced with your typical, run-of-the-mill this-house-was-built-on-an-ancient-tribal-burial-ground-and-a-known-devil-worshipper-once-lived-here type of situation. If your own dad's checking the boathouse at 3:15 a.m. every morning and compulsively chopping wood for the fireplace, let that be your exit cue.
All William Foster, played by Michael Douglas in Falling Down (1993), freaking wants is to make it to his kid's birthday party before all the cake's gone. But that isn't easy given that his obnoxious ex-wife's filed a restraining order against him and the AC in his car is on the fritz and he keeps running into douche bags who won't lend him change to make a phone call and folks at fast food restaurants who won't serve him breakfast because he's two minutes too late for that menu. If this somewhat mundane series of events isn't enough to drive your own dad over the edge, causing him to go on a violent killing rampage, then consider yourself blessed.
The obvious winner when it comes to most horrifying maniacal movie dad is Jack Nicholson, who played Jack Torrance in The Shining (1980) and first scared the crap out of me in a dimly lit resort movie theater in the Ozarks when I was twelve. (Insert obligatory Red Rum joke here.) I think there was something in the film that explained how the fictitious isolated Stanley Hotel (located in our very own Estes Park) was to blame for Jack's gradual decline in mental health and ultimate attempt at murdering his wife and son. Yeah -- "the hotel made me do it" -- wink, wink. Just try to tell me you wouldn't go insane if you were hold-up in a deserted, desolate building with Shelley Duvall and a grade-school aged kid. All parenting and no play is what really makes Jack a dull boy.
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