As young people, we should look up to our parents and respect our elders, or at least that's the general idea (unless your parents cook meth in a trailer and/or regard FOX news as the apex of thoughtful political commentary). Parents protect us from evil and (hopefully) the development of poor hygienic practices. Of course none of this is true if you're in a horror film. Parents are dopey, oblivious, and almost never believe their children when confronted with the possibility of some sinister business going on in their lives. Below we've gathered the best (worst?) examples of stupid parents in horror, from the brazenly idiotic to the blissfully ignorant.
Wendy Torrance, The Shining
In Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's The Shining, Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall play Jack and Wendy Torrance, a married couple who take their son to the remote Overlook Hotel while Jack works on his writing. Naturally, the hotel was built on an ancient Indian burial ground and has a history of driving its residents insane. Little Danny has ESP and keeps talking using his creepy finger friend, while Jack starts to slowly lose his mind, growing increasingly violent. Sure, Jack is kind of an idiot for taking his family to a hotel that gets snowed in every winter, but Wendy is the real prize here. I'm not doubting Wendy's maternal legitimacy, but at what point do you decide that your husband is mentally unstable and deranged enough to murder you and maybe you should at least consider getting yourself and your kid out of that hotel? Oh, I guess the best cue is when he sticks an axe through the door and nearly splits your head in two. In Wendy's defense, she does fight back, but she takes too long wringing her dowdy little hands over the situation.
Louis Creed, Pet Sematary
When the Creed family moves to a new town, they're given plenty of warning, particularly from neighbor Jud (Fred Gwynne), about the local pet cemetery, which sits conveniently atop an -- altogether now -- ancient Indian burial ground. In yet another Stephen King adaptation, it seems that people just don't know when to stay the hell away from places where our Native American friends were buried. After the family cat dies, Louis buries him in the pet cemetery, only for their furry friend to return as evil incarnate. Lesson learned, right? Nope. Louis' son Gage is tragically killed when he gets run over by a truck, so Louis thinks it's a fantastic idea to bury him in the pet cemetery, even after repeated warnings from Jud. Gage comes back as an evil, murderous little jerk thanks to his father's willfully dumb actions.
Rachel, The Ring
In Gore Verbinski's The Ring (a remake of the Japanese horror film Ringu), those who watch a haunted VHS tape die seven days later. Investigating the mysterious tape, Rachel (Naomi Watts) has a copy made and takes it home. After watching the tape, she leaves it in the house where she lives with her young son, Aidan. Rachel is shocked and beside herself to later discover Aidan watching the tape. Yes, because if I just watched a movie that kills people in seven days, I'd leave it laying around for my kid to watch. The rest of the film is a scramble to break the curse and save her life as well as that of her son -- none of which would be necessary if she had used her thinking cap.
Karen Barclay, Child's Play
In this Tom Holland killer doll classic, Catherine Hicks plays Karen, a widowed mother trying to make her young son Andy happy by bringing him home a toy (side note: someone alert the plagiarist police because Toy Story has some explaining to do). Bowing to his wishes, she buys Andy a Good Guy doll named Chucky, but our pal Chuck isn't really a doll -- he's a serial killer trapped inside a doll's body. Weird things start happening around the Barclay house and people start dying after Chucky's arrival, but only Andy knows the truth about his new toy. Karen refuses to believe a doll is capable of such awful things, but how hard does this woman need to pull those blinders over her eyes, and what's the alternative? Is your kid really a sociopath? And would he lie to you about a doll engaging in such heinous activities? Come on lady, wake up!
Barbara Riley, Shaun of the Dead
Edgar Wright's insta-classic Shaun of the Dead finds man-child Shaun (Simon Pegg) coming of age amidst a zombie apocalypse. Shaun and friends endeavor to rescue his sweet mum Barbara (a nod to George Romero's Night of the Living Dead), but she's convinced everything is fine. Her husband has been bitten and is feeling under the weather, but that doesn't mean anything is wrong, you guys! Shaun's mom is a sweet lady with only the best intentions, but she's a bit daft, isn't she? Her husband is bitten and she thinks nothing of it, and she certainly doesn't think it's necessary to kill him and protect herself, either. Meanwhile zombies roam the streets and the whole world's gone to hell, but our endearingly doofy Barbara just keeps chugging along.