You either love horror movies or hate them. I, for one, love them. That being said, horror films these days either hit or miss because of lame and repeated cliches we have seen for years, unnecessary jump-scares, poor acting, lack of directorial vision- well, the list goes on and on. If a new horror flick is a hit it’s because the director and writers did it right, usually with a standout script, a unique story, and more importantly, characters that left a mark on our minds. It’s not often we get a new iconic character out of the genre these days- the last was probably Jigsaw from the Saw Franchise. There were attempts, such as Bugul from Sinister, to join the ranks of legendary horror icons like Jason, Michael Myers or Freddy Kruger. But those guys are supernatural monsters! Then you’ve got creepy children (think of Children of the Corn) that can also freak you out.
But what about the oldsters?
In most movies they are sweet, wise and usually have interesting stories and advice for the younger generations. However there are some that can be completely creepy. Doesn’t matter if they are male or female, an aunt, uncle, grandparent, or neighbor! There have been plenty of horror flicks over time that scared the pants out of us because they took such a harmless individual and turned them into a killer monster. Think about it. You would lose your mind if you learned that the sweet old lady down the street is actually a serial killer.
With that in mind, here’s our list of the top 15 creepiest old people in horror movies.
15. Violet Devereaux – The Skeleton Key
The amazingly talented Gena Rowlands plays Violet Devereaux in The Skeleton Key, starring Kate Hudson, who plays Caroline Ellis. Devereaux is looking after her ailing husband at their home, where Caroline works as a caregiver. Devereaux gives her a skeleton key and tells Caroline of the house’s former “hoodoo” practicing servants whose presence still haunts the house, specifically in the mirrors. Caroline has her suspicions about Devereaux and as the film progresses she learns that Devereaux has an evil plan of her own. While the film got mixed reviews, Rowlands gave a creepy performance as the conniving, spell-binding wife that is quite memorable.
14. Deborah Logan – The Taking of Deborah Logan
The Taking of Deborah Logan is one of the scariest films on Netflix, partly because of the character, Deborah Logan. She is an elderly mother who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. She and her daughter Sarah are visited by a film crew who want to document Logan’s life and the effects of the disease for educational purposes. While they are staying at her house, Logan begins to see her symptoms accelerate. Her behavior is bizarre and terrifying. She suddenly appears when you don’t expect her; she attacks the crew members, kidnaps a child and even peels her own skin off. Deborah Logan surely is one of the most scariest elders in horror films today.
13. The Old Woman – The Shining
We know Stanley Kubrick’s movie is already stuffed with gritty nightmares but nothing was as ghoulish or as terrifying as the bathroom scene with Jack Torrance, played by Jack Nicholson, alone with another woman. At first, yeah, she is kind of attractive and the two share a passionate kiss. Things get less hot when she slowly begins to change into an ugly old woman. She isn’t just wrinkled and balding either. She is nude, covered head to toe in nasty sores. At this point Jack is already hitting his boiling point but we don’t blame him for running out as fast as he did. It is one of the many images in the film that no one can easily forget!
12. Grandma Lois – Paranormal Activity 3
From the Paranormal Activity franchise, Grandma Lois is one of the creepiest grandmothers on this list. The third film serves as a prequel to the series where we learn more about the entity that frightened Kristi and Katie when they were younger. As strange occurrences continue in their home, their mother and her boyfriend take them to her mom’s place. From there, you learn that Lois has more to do with the paranormal and witchcraft than she leads on. To be honest – it’s all her fault. What attracts grandmothers to witchcraft to the point of endangering their families? We will never know.
11. Mr. and Mrs. Ulman – The House of the Devil
This 2009 film by Ti West is heavily influenced by the 70’s and 80’s, including it credits fonts, soundtrack, and horror tropes; particularly, the old couple who are Satan worshipers. It’s the story of Samantha Hughes (played by Jocelin Donahue) who is looking to make some extra cash to help pay for her new apartment. She takes her friend Megan’s advice (played by Greta Gerwig) and applies for a babysitting job at a mansion owned by a wealthy but strange couple, Mr. and Mrs. Ulman. While they are out, our heroine hears strange noises coming from within a room at the top of the house. Unbeknownst to her, her friend gets killed and Sam soon finds herself in the middle of a pentagram surrounded by Mr. and Mrs. Ulman and a stranger trying to complete a ritual in time for a lunar eclipse.
10. The Elderly Residents – Homebodies
While the themes of this film are tragic and relevant, the 1974 flick Homebodies is quite a disturbing and funny film. Here we have a group of peaceful retirees who are threatened by land developers who want to kick them out of their community. Rather than considering a more reasonable solution, the elders decide upon extreme violence. They stab, mutilate, decapitate, and then cement the remains of their greedy victims who have tried to make them move. Talk about extreme measures! But when you think about it the film has a strong point – senior citizens don’t deserve to be removed from their homes just because they’re old. Most of them don’t end up as killers though!
9. Claire Marrable – What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice?
An old widow named Claire Marrable, played by Geraldine Page, learns that her recently deceased husband has left her with nothing but a crummy collection of stamps, butterflies, and a briefcase, due to a bad investment. To keep her affluent lifestyle afloat, she goes on a murder spree by killing her housekeepers, stealing their money, and burying their bodies along her driveway. When Alice Dimmock, played by Ruth Gordon, hears of her friend’s disappearance, she applies and becomes Mrs. Marrable’s newest housekeeper – but only to investigate Marrable and the case of her missing friend.
8. The Grannies – Rabid Grannies
In the 1988 Belgian horror flick Rabid Grannies, a group of relatives come to visit two wealthy aunts for their birthday celebration and to squeeze their greedy selves into their living wills. A nephew, who is the black sheep of the family, is left behind because of his activities in dark magic and is therefore out of an inheritance. Still, he gives them a special gift that ends up changing their birthday plans. Somehow, the gift turns his aunts into ravaging beasts. The two crazy aunts become hell bent on killing and eating all their greedy family members and other party guests.
7. Elderly Satanists – The Brotherhood of Satan
Very similar to Rosemary’s Baby, The Brotherhood of Satan was a low budget 70’s horror film that also deals with elderly satanists. The movie focuses on a young couple Ben and Nicky, played by Charles Bateman and Ahna Capri, and K.T, Ben’s daughter. After attempting to report a car accident, they find themselves stuck in a town where they are unable to leave and where children have been vanishing as the adults get killed. Turns out the town is riddled with very old satan worshippers who are behind the kidnappings. Their ultimate goal is to have their souls live in the kids’ bodies in the hope they will become youthful. To achieve this end they will kill anyone who dares to interfere.
6. Roman and Minnie Castevet – Rosemary’s Baby
Meet Roman and Minnie Castevet. They are definitely not your average everyday elderly couple though they give off that impression in the beginning. Minnie enjoys talking to Rosemary, complaining about the Catholic Church and the fancy robes the priests wear. Meanwhile Roman tells her countless stories of his travels. But don’t let their innocent, charming smiles fool you. At the end of the day, they are satanists who plan on using Rosemary to give birth to their leader. Maybe Roman Polanski’s film is a cautionary tale of being careful about who your neighbors are? If a neighbor offers you chocolate mousse maybe just say no.
5. Old Fortune Teller – Black Sabbath
In the classic horror anthology by Mario Bava, the segment “A Drop of Water” features an old fortune teller, a nurse, and a face. It continues to terrorize many viewers today. A young nurse has stolen the old fortune teller’s special ring shortly after she passes away. Not too long after the death, our heroine begins to hear endless sounds of dripping water and is bothered by flies she can’t seem to catch. Is the nurse just crazy or is the spirit of the old fortune teller haunting her to get back what is rightfully hers? Check out the film to see.
4. Mary Shaw – Dead Silence
If there was one thing Insidious and The Conjuring director James Wan loved beside his creepy puppets, it was definitely scary old ladies who also love creepy puppets! In the film, Mary Shaw is an urban legend that haunts the inhabitants of a small town, and has ties to some mysterious murders and disappearances. Shaw was a well known ventriloquist who was driven out of town and killed after being accused of murdering a child who disrupted a show of hers. Shaw was so obsessed with her profession that she once said that she wanted to look like her dolls when she died. When you catch her face, well, you can see that she got her wish.
3. Norma Bates – Psycho
Without spoiling Alfred Hitchcock’s classic movie or its twisted ending, we will start off by saying that Norma Bates is a crazy woman no man (or woman) deserves to be mothered by. Mrs. Bates is the reason why Norman Bates is the way Norman is and how he became the person horror fans and cinephiles know so well. Being the already sensitive boy that he was, Norma destroyed him at a young age by her overbearing presence, over protectiveness and degrading tongue. In turn, this made Norman stay close to his mom out of obedience to the very end.
2. Grandma – Flowers In The Attic
After the death of her husband, Corinne and her kids go to live with her mom. The kids are locked away at the top part of grandma’s mansion because granny says so! She calls the kids “the devil’s spawn” and believes that they’re “evil from the moment of conception”. Not only is she emotionally abusive, she hits them, kicks them and last but not least, poisons them! The movie is based on the 1979 novel by V.C Andrews. It has long been notorious for its suggestive implication that the two siblings were in an incestuous relationship, which just makes this whole film (and book) even more disturbing.
1. The Tall Man – Phantasm
You cannot say that the tall man (Angus Scrimm) did not scare you the first time you saw Phantasm. Dressed up in a suit and tie, standing over 6’5”, and slowly walking past mortuaries are just some of the simple ways he gives you and the film’s characters the creeps. But is that it? Nope! He also has an army of evil elves, is able to turn himself into a seductive woman to lure in teenage boys, and, most famously, throws around killer silver spheres. His “classy old man” look, grotesque height, and legendary weapons made him a horror icon in the 70’s.