When most of the world thinks about senior citizens, they imagine baking cookies, smiling, wrinkly faces and stories about walking to school uphill – both ways – in the snow. But when horror fans are asked to think about people of a certain age, the characteristics that come to mind are a might bit more sinister. PopHorror has come out of retirement to put together a top 10 list of some of the genre’s most deadly octogenarians.
10. Nana and Pop Pop — The Visit (2015)
When siblings Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) went to visit their grandparent’s house for the first time, they had no idea what to expect – maybe early bedtimes, overcooked vegetables or marathon Mahjongg games. Never in their wildest dreams did they think that a weekend at their mother’s parents’ home might be the last thing they ever did. Unlike other horror movies, the antagonists in The Visit weren’t knife wielding slashers, but the kids’ own grandparents. There’s an inherent instinct in children to obey relatives – especially older, seemingly wiser ones – which is what made Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) so incredibly frightening. They must know better, right?
9. Dr. Arden/Hans Gruber — American Horror Story: Asylum (2012-13)
Dr. Arden (James Cromwell), AKA Nazi sadist Hans Gruber, was the medical doctor in 1964 at Briarcliff Manor, a Catholic sanitarium for the mentally ill. Because he was blackmailing the Monsignor (Joseph Fiennes), he was allowed free reign over the patients, using them to create horribly disfigured mutants that he kept in the woods behind Briarcliff. His scientific curiosity, knowledge of the human body, endless supply of subjects and complete disassociation from other humans (besides Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe), of course) made him a horrible monster to the people trapped at the sanitarium. Everyone wants to trust that their doctor has their best interests at heart, but Dr. Arden proved that you should always get a second opinion.
8. Captain Spaulding — House of 1,000 Corpses (2003)/Devil’s Rejects (2005)
The owner of a gas station and The Museum of Monsters & Madmen, Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) used his roadside attraction business to lure victims to the home of the evil and psychotic Firefly clan. Although he looked like just a crusty old man in smeared clown makeup, he was actually a cold-blooded killer who would do anything to keep his Firefly family happy and covered in blood. As if we didn’t have enough reasons to be afraid of clowns…
7. Gladys Foster — Legion (2010)
When little old senior citizen Gladys (Jeanette Miller) first walked into the diner, she seemed like the most innocent character in 2010’s Legion, with her perfect collar and shiny metal walker. That is, until she muttered, “It’ll all be over soon,” and proceeded to start ripping throats out with her teeth. Her seemingly frail senior citizen body then launched itself at the wall where she scuttled to the diner’s ceiling like a cardigan wearing spider. Leave it to earth conquering demons to arrive in the guise of an 80-year-old woman.
6. Roman and Minnie Castevet — Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
The senior citizen neighbors of Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and Guy Woodhouse (James Cassavetes) were more than excited when the agnostic couple announced that they are having their first child. Rosemary sensed something was wrong and even began to distrust her own doctor, leaning heavily on the herbal supplements given to her by Roman (Sidney Blackmer) and Minnie Castevet (Ruth Gordon). If only she had known that they were actually devil worshiping anarchists who used the poor woman as a vessel to bring forth the Antichrist.
5. Mrs. Ganush — Drag Me To Hell (2009)
Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) was just a young loan officer trying to keep her job when she got a visit from Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver), a desperate gypsy woman about to be evicted from her home. Mrs. Ganush wouldn’t take no for an answer, and decided that if she was going to suffer, so would Alison. The worst part about Drag Me To Hell was that the poor girl never screwed anyone over purposefully. She was just trying to be a good employee yet she still ended up getting screwed.
4. Deborah Logan — The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014)
When a film crew arrived to film the effects of Alzheimer’s on Deborah Logan (Jill Larson), they realized that, in addition to the forgetfulness that usually accompanies the disease, sweet Deborah may have something else wrong with her. Anyone who has ever seen the destruction that Alzheimer’s causes can relate to this movie. As their loved one deteriorated before their eyes, they could only imagine that something evil was behind this assault. The Taking of Deborah Logan takes something as natural as growing older and turns it into one of the scariest ideas yet.
3. Mum — Dead Alive (1993)
Also known as Braindead, Dead Alive followed young Lionel Cosgrove (Timothy Balme) as he watched his beloved Mum (Elizabeth Moody) go from the demanding yet living matriarch he had known all his live to a white eyed, flesh eating ghoul intent on eating as much raw flesh as possible. Your brain can wrap itself around just about anything, but the idea that your own mother wants to dine on your organs is one thing you just can’t get over. There’s no standard therapy for that.
2. Tall Man — Phantasm (1979)
Once Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) convinced his brother, Jody (Bill Thornbury), and local ice cream man, Reggie (Reggie Bannister), that there was something fishy about the creepy mortician known as The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm), the three banded together to defeat this alien/supernatural creature who could reanimate the dead and turn them into slaving dwarves. Anyone who has ever lost a parent or loved one at a young age can relate to Mike, who feels that his parents’ deaths were not an accident and that there was someone tangible – the actual mortician – that he could blame. Losing your parents is one of the biggest fears of kids of any age. Of course, it doesn’t help that the guy is about seven feet tall and could send bladed silver balls after you. Boy!
1. Kane — Poltergeist 2: The Other Side (1986)
The Reverend Henry Kane (Julian Beck) from Poltergeist 2 is, by far, one of the creepiest senior citizens in horror movie history. His skeletal features, high voiced singing, Southern hospitality and persistence in trying to get Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke) to go with him make him the deadliest senior citizen on this list. No matter where they moved or what they did, nothing the Freelings tried would get Kane to stop haunting them. To top it all off, he turned into a tequila worm and then let himself be swallowed and puked up by poor daddy Steve (Craig T. Nelson), which has got to be one of the most disgusting, gut-churning scenes in a horror movie ever. “God is in His holy temple…”
Honorable mentions got to Mother from Psycho (even though she was technically not a senior citizen), Mrs. Voorhees from Friday the 13th (I honestly don’t picture her as old enough for the Dunkin’ Donuts senior discount) and the Tub Lady from The Shining (she was certainly freaky, but of a certain age? It’s a little hard to tell). Did I miss any deadly senior citizens that you feel should be on this list? Give me a shoutout in the comments and let me know!