It’s around this time of year that those who consider themselves fair-minded, levelheaded members of society mingle with—and even invite into their homes—screw-loose lunatics who can’t handle their boozy holiday drinks. Perhaps you know them as your family members. Yes, those creatures. But, hey, rather than sit through another one of Grandpa’s meandering stories about his four-day weekend in the deer stand, spend a few hours with the following crazy killer families. Trust us, they’ll make you thankful for yours.
From the psycho Sawyers of Texas Chain Saw Massacre to the cannibal clan of We Are What We Are, here are our favorite horror movies starring crazy killer families.
We Are What We Are
Mexican filmmaker Jorge Michel Grau served a heaping portion of family horror in 2010's We Are What We Are. Three years later, director Jim Mickle cooked up this well-received American remake starring Bill Sage, Julia Garner, and Ambyr Childers. Sage plays Frank Parker, the patriarch of a seemingly wholesome, if reclusive, family unit. Yet in the privacy of their home, Frank fervently lords over his clan and is determined to preserve their ancestral culinary customs no matter what. But when a torrential downpour sweeps through their town, human remains surface in the nearby creek, threatening to expose the Parker family's skin-crawling secrets.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Forget the traditional turkey and dressing. This iconic crew from Tobe Hooper’s maim-and-torture classic serves up Southern-fried BBQ with gravy bowls of crazy. Though their place cards read The Hitcher, The Old Man, Leatherface, and Grandpa, we like to think they keep a chair open for final girl Sally. You know, just in case she stops by again without RSVPing.
The Last House on the Left
Though you may be inclined to peg father Krug Stillo and son Junior as the loons, we offer a crazier pitch. Hell hath no fury like a married couple whose daughter’s been raped and left for dead in a lake. In Wes Craven’s exploitative directorial debut, the Collingwoods bring out the good cutlery, so to speak, to exact revenge. We’re talking fancy knives, chainsaws, the works. This is one fam you don’t want to mess with.
Norma and Norman are your normal, everyday mother-son duo. As long as normal means hoarding corpses and covering every inch of wall space with taxidermied animals. Plus, you know, the whole murder thing. Alfred Hitchcock’s black-and-white classic about an Ed Gein-inspired killer with serious mommy issues is a stone-cold classic—and welcome distraction once your Aunt Emma arrives.
The Jupiter Clan
The Hills Have Eyes
Here's another twisted early flick from horror master Wes Craven. 1977's The Hills Have Eyes follows the Carters, a suburban family traveling from Ohio to Los Angeles who end up stranded in the Nevada desert—where they're preyed upon by a cannibalistic clan of mutant killers lurking in the desert hills. Craven based his movie on the , a legendary killer clan from 16th century Scotland. The horror flick spawned a number of sequels, as well as a 2006 remake from French filmmaking partners Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur (Haute Tension). Aja and Levasseur's The Hills Have Eyes produced the 2007 sequel, The Hills Have Eyes 2.
House of 1,000 Corpses
Though there’s no telling what would happen at a dinner party hosted by the Fireflys, the tight-knit clan who prey upon oblivious sojourners for their grisly rituals. At least you know the dress code in Rob Zombie’s fright fest: black tie optional, freaky mask required.
Sure, Dad gets a little testy when his ball game gets interrupted, but it’s nothing compared to the malice Jack Torrance spews when his son and wife interfere with his “work.” Stanley Kubrick’s seminal horror movie about a haunted hotel and its winter caretakers may start out like an idyllic family-vacay flick, but it gives way to a seething tale of wicked ghosts and attempted filicide. On second thought, when the game’s on, keep it down.
The Loved Ones
The holidays are an excuse to show off that new carving set—and those blade-to-bird carving skills, right? Well, things run a bit skewed in the household in this awesome Aussie torture porn horror movie from filmmaker Sean Byrne. This band of misfits prefers slicing into human flesh. So when Brent, a suicidal high schooler, turns down Lola’s prom invite, she, her Daddy, and a lobotomized woman they call Bright Eyes use his body as a carving station.
Featured still from "We Are What We Are" via Belladonna Productions