Bad Dads: The Worst Fathers in Horror Films

Happy Father’s Day! It’s time to wrap that tie or finish painting the clever “Dad Rocks” on a rock. Today, we celebrate all those hardworking fathers who threaten to ‘turn this car around right now’ and play catch with you in the backyard. For this edition of The Chopping Block, I take a look at some the horror genre’s most memorable father figures. So if you’re looking for a good horror film to sit down to after all that family time, here are a few options.

Louis Creed (Pet Sematary, 1989)

This one may seem a little unfair. You have to feel bad for Louis Creed. His father-in-law hates him and his son, Gage, died a horrifically tragic death right in front of him. He truly means well, but after witnessing how his daughter’s cat, Church, was changed by a haunted burial ground, he probably should have learned a lesson. Even ‘undead’ warnings fail to hammer home this message. Instead Louis takes his deceased son to the same burial ground and makes everything worse. His dedication is admirable, but like a father trying to assemble Ikea furniture, he should have quit while he was ahead.

Appropriate Father’s Day Gift: A Gift Certificate to Mark’s Work Wearhouse

Nathan Grantham (Father’s Day segment from Creepshow, 1982)

Nathan Grantham, the old and sickly patriarch of the Grantham family, is a demanding and emotionally abusive father. He acquired his wealth through crime and murder, and then spent his golden years making life miserable for his adult daughter and caretaker, Bedelia. Some fathers want to spend their Father’s Day fishing or at the ballpark. All Nathan Grantham wanted for his Father’s Day was a cake. Instead he took an ashtray to the skull. But like the overbearing father he was in life, Grantham had to get the last word in, crawling right out from his grave.


Appropriate Father’s Day Gift: Just give the man his cake.

Dad Meiks (Frailty, 2001)

Fathers should spend time with their kids – share their interests, find a project to work on together. That is, unless your father is a religiously fanatic serial case. In that case, dad should probably just take the kids fishing. But Frailty’s ‘Dad’ Meiks enlists his two sons in what he believes is an ordained war against demons disguised as humans. As his righteous killing spree progresses, ‘Dad’ traumatizes one son and converts the other to his cause, leaving behind a bloody legacy long past his death. Maybe he should have just built a treehouse in the backyard with the kids.

Appropriate Father’s Day Gift: A Hardware Store Gift Card

Don (28 Weeks Later, 2007)

Don is the absolute worst. Within the first 10 minutes of 28 Weeks Later, Don has left his wife to die at the hands of the ‘infected‘ while running to safety. If that’s not bad enough, Don lies straight to his children’s faces about what happened to their mother. After finding out his wife actually survived, he makes a pitiful attempt at sucking up. To top all of this off, Don kills his wife after he’s infected and then spreads the infection through a quarantine zone. Undoubtedly, Don was the kind of dad who got you a Gobots knockoff instead of a Transformers toy.

Appropriate Father’s Day Gift: An Unfinished Craft from School

Jerry Blake (The Stepfather, 1987)

Let’s not forget about all of those stepdads out there on Father’s Day. Unfortunately, Jerry Blake, from cult classic The Stepfather, would probably be the worst stepdad you could imagine. While he values family and tradition, he has very high expectations of his wife and kids that few could meet. And he’s a bit of a strict disciplinarian. If you’re one of his step-kids you can expect a serious reduction in screen-time and tight curfews.

Seriously, it better not be another fucking tie…

Appropriate Father’s Day Gift: Yes, a Tie

Jack Torrance (The Shining, 1980)

Jack Torrance may be the worst father in horror film history. Sure it’s not entirely his fault. In addition to struggling with alcoholism, Jack is stuck in an isolated, haunted hotel with his wife and son. Unfortunately, Jack doesn’t seem to put up much of a fight to protect his family for the impending threat of The Overlook Hotel. He binges on the phantom sauce, cavorts with ghostly patrons, and spends too much time working. As The Shining draws towards its conclusion, Jack tries to murder his family with an ax, which seems like an extreme step up from threatening to turn the car around.

Jack Torrance

Appropriate Father’s Day Gift: Family Dinner at The Olive Garden

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I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.

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