by Charles Reis
Horror villains in cinema are ruthless killers out for blood. Some wear a mask, some carry an axe, and some have supernatural powers. For decades these villains have graced the silver screen with their terrifying presence as they slice and dice their way through helpless victims. However, many of these villains have one thing in common with most everyday people: they have families! Whether it’s parents, siblings, or children themselves, they all come from one. Here is a list of five horror villains and their family trees.
5. Norman Bates (Psycho)
The iconic Norman Bates made his first cinematic appearance in Hitchcock’s 1960 masterpiece, Psycho, which made taking a shower an act of fear! Norman’s family played a role in his reason to kill, especially his mother, Norma. As learned through the four films, she was controlling and possessive, along with being emotionally abusive towards him. She would force an extreme religious view upon him that sexual intercourse and all women (except herself) were evil. Eventually, she was the one to open up the Bates Motel. When Norma took on a lover, Norman’s emotional state snapped and he killed them both. As a way to deal with the guilt, he took on the personality of his mother (including dressing up like her), which usually came to the surface when he felt attracted to another woman, which often led to violence.
Through the acclaimed television series, Bates Motel, more of Norman’s family tree was revealed. His father, Sam, was also very abusive and was killed by Norma. He had a half-brother/cousin named Dylan Massett, a byproduct of a sexual relationship between his mother and his uncle, Caleb Calhoun (Norma’s brother, who started molesting her when she was 13). You also learn about his grandmother (Norma’s mother), Francine, who also was in an abusive relationship. It was clear, through his family’s history, why Norman turned into the villain that he became.
4. Leatherface (Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
Nothing says Texas like a man wearing a mask of dead skin and carrying a chainsaw. In the first three films, Leatherface was a deformed, mentally challenged, cannibalistic serial killer who tended to be the most vicious and violent of his family. However, his family, the Sawyers, were just as demented.
What was learned from the films was that Leatherface had a lot of brothers. In the 1974 classic, there was Drayton, an older brother who was a cook and suffered from mental illness that caused him to be sadistic at one moment but then be disgusted by killing and torture the next. Nubbins was the younger brother who was very violent but not very intelligent. Additionally, one of his hobbies was grave desecration. In the 1986 sequel, another brother was introduced, his nickname was “Chop Top”. While he had a hippie-mentality, he was equally deranged and violent as his twin brother, Nubbins. Finally in Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, three more brothers were revealed: Edward, a cowboy who liked to be called Tex; Tinker, an inventor with a prosthesis hook on his right hand; and Alfredo, a pervert who ran a gas station. Much like Leatherface, these men were cannibalistic psychopaths. But, Leatherface had other relatives, including grandparents (the original), his mother Anne (part III), and his daughter Babi, who may have been conceived through the raping of a female victim (part III).
In the recent Texas Chainsaw 3D, an alternate timeline was formed that introduced new family members, including Bear, Boss, Verna-Carson, Loretta Sissy, and Heather Miller/Edith Rose (Leatherface’s cousin, who was adopted by another family). All were just as demented and cruel, proving the idea that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
3. Michael Myers (Halloween)
The villain that help started the slasher genre has been terrorizing victims since 1978. Michael Myers was the embodiment of evil that had terrorized the citizens of Haddonfield, Illinois around the Halloween season. In the original Halloween and its sequels, Myers’ family was the main target for his murderous rage. His first victim was his older sister, Judith, who he killed when he was six-years-old. His parents (their backgrounds was never expanded on) were the ones to find him. After spending time in an asylum, he escaped fifteen years later to attack his baby sister, Laurie. She had been adopted by the Strode family after the death of her parents, and it wasn’t until Halloween II was it known she was Michael’s sister. She escaped death many times, but in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, it was revealed she had died by unknown causes.
In the fourth movie, Myers started targeting his niece and the daughter of Laurie, Jamie. At the time, she was seven years old and lived with a foster family when Myers tried to kill her, and continued to attempt to kill her in following sequels. In the sixth film, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Jamie (now 15) gave birth to Myers’ great-nephew, Stephen, before she was killed. Though Stephen also was targeted for death, he survived in the end.
Halloween: H2O presented an alternate timeline in which Laurie was alive after faking her death (though she was eventually killed by Myers in Halloween: Resurrection) and there was now a seventeen-year-old nephew named John, who survived the rampage. Much like the residents of Haddonfield, the family of Myers fell prey to his knife!
2. Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th)
Going camping was never the same when Jason began hacking his way through immoral teenagers. For almost thirty years, Jason had been drawing blood at Camp Crystal Lake while wearing his trademark hockey mask, and had become one of the most iconic slasher villains of all time. This was why some forget that when the first Friday the 13th premiered in 1980, the person doing the killing at the camp wasn’t Jason, but rather his mother, Pamela. As revealed through the numerous movies, Jason was born deformed, so Pamela became overprotective of him and kept him away from other children. She became a cook at Camp Crystal Lake, and sometime later Jason died from drowning. Blaming the counselors, Pamela had a mental breakdown and started to kill as an act of revenge. It was hinted at that Pamela believed her dead son was talking through her and encouraged her to murder. However, by the end of the first movie, she was decapitated. Her death became the catalyst for Jason rising from the grave to start his slaughter.
Nothing more was said about Jason’s family until 1993’s Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. It was revealed that Jason had a sister, Diana (possibly through Jason’s biological father). Unlike Jason and Pamela, she wasn’t murderous, rather she became a victim when Jason killed her. Additionally, Jason had a niece named Jessica and a grand-niece named Stephanie. Due to some odd magical curse, it was revealed that Jason can either be killed or be completely reborn through a family member, so he spent much of the film either trying to kill or possess them. In the end, it was his sister that defeated him. This was not a happy family reunion.
1. Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Sweet dreams were never the same once this icon was born back in 1984. With his trademark looks and humor, Freddy Krueger made audiences scream one moment and laugh at the next. This supernatural killer was once a mortal man who murdered children, so it was a surprise to learn that Freddy’s mother, Amanda, was a nun. As told in A Nightmare of Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors, she went by Sister Mary Helena and worked at Westin Hills Asylum. One night, she was accidentally locked in with psychotic men. Over the next few days, she was repeated raped by close to 100 inmates. When she was found, she was pregnant (Freddy’s father was one of these men, however some say that he was the Bastard Son of 100 Maniacs). She made another appearance in A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child as a spirit. After a mortal Freddy was arrested for the child murders and released due to a technicality, Amanda hung herself in the tower of the asylum, in which her body and the room was sealed off. However, Freddy feared his mother as a spirit, since she had to power to defeat him. At the end of the movie, she was able to contain him by absorbing him into her body, though it lasted only for a short period.
When Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare was release in 1991, Freddy’s backstory was expanded to include a wife and daughter. Freddy married a woman named Loretta, and while not much was known about her, she did discover her husband’s “special room” where he kept his items he used to kill children. Despite her promise not to tell anyone, Freddy strangled her. The couple had a young daughter named Kathryn, who at the age of six witnessed her father kill her mother. Freddy did love his daughter (in his own warped way) and spared her life, but when he was arrested and eventually killed, she was placed into foster care and eventually was adopted. She was given a new name of Maggie Burroughs and her memories of her father was suppressed (only coming out years later). As an adult, she became a counselor to troubled youth when Freddy tried to find her in hopes that she would assist him in his murdering spree. She refused and instead she was determined to stop him. In the end, she did where others had failed: she killed Freddy for good!