Mothers have been on my mind a lot this month because not only does Mother’s Day happen in May, but so does my own mom’s birthday! Plus, the horror genre has a lot of mom-centric content — from very good/heroic moms to very, very bad/evil moms! So, before May comes to a close, I wanted to talk about THE horror mom: Dee Wallace.

It’s always kinda bothered me that whenever Dee Wallace is brought up in conversation, she’s usually described as “The Mom from E.T.” (which, as you may know, is on my New Year’s Resolution watch list for 2024). It bugs me because I don’t connect with the reference on a personal level (since E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is one of the few movies I haven’t seen her in), and it also bothers me because that’s usually where the conversation ends – and there’s just so much more to say!!

Dee Wallace is an absolute legend. It’s almost impossible to be a horror fan and not know (and love?!) Dee Wallace. Even if you think you don’t know who she is, I’m betting you do and just didn’t realize it was her (because she’s that fabulous of an actress!). Dee Wallace, sometimes credited as Dee Wallace Stone, is far more than just “The Mom from E.T.” She’s also…

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The Mom in Cujo (1983)

Dee Wallace in Cujo as Donna Trenton

In this tense horror thriller, Donna Trenton is a mother who finds herself and her son trapped in their car, terrorized by a rabid St. Bernard named Cujo.

Dee Wallace’s portrayal of Donna captures the desperation and fierce protectiveness of a mother fighting to survive against horror’s most intense doggie foe!

The Mom in Critters (1986)

Dee Wallace in Critters as Helen Brown

Critters is a sci-fi horror comedy about a family living on a rural farm that becomes the target of small, carnivorous alien creatures known as Crites – some of the coolest monsters of the 1980s!

And you know what else is cool? Dee Wallace’s portrayal of Helen Brown, the resourceful mother who helps defend her family from the mischievous and deadly invaders.

The Mom in Popcorn (1991)

Popcorn 1991 Dee Wallace as Suzanne

I first saw Popcorn (1991) when it appeared on the “Joe Bob’s Halloween Hangout” special for The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs and I was delighted to see Dee Wallace! She’s a performer who always gives her all in every role she takes on, and you’re bound to enjoy her part in whatever the film is even if it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

*Ahem* That said, from what I could grasp of Popcorn, the plot centers on a group of film students who organize a horror movie marathon, only to be stalked by a mysterious killer. Dee Wallace plays Suzanne, the mother (or mother figure?) of Maggie, played by Jill Schoelen.

The Mom in The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Dee Wallace in The Hills Have Eyes as Lynne Wood

Dee Wallace also portrayed Lynne Wood (née Carter) in Wes Craven’s grittiest horror flick, The Hills Have Eyes.

Lynne is the tragically doomed Carter family’s eldest daughter, wife to Doug Wood, and mother to baby Katy.

Laurie Strode’s Mom in Halloween (2007)

Rob Zombie and Scout Taylor-Compton with Dee Wallace - Halloween 2007 BTS

Rob Zombie’s reimagining of the Halloween franchise features Dee Wallace as Cynthia Strode, the adoptive mother of Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton). Her character plays a key role in Laurie’s backstory, providing a sense of normalcy and care in a film filled with intense dread and horror.

Side note: If you’re a fan of Rob Zombie’s films, there’s an extremely good chance you’ve seen and/or heard Dee Wallace!

Lords of Salem witches

In addition to playing Cynthia Strode in Halloween (2007), she was also…

  • Trixie in The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (2009)
  • Sonny in The Lords of Salem (2012 – Shown in pic above)
  • Greta in 3 from Hell (2019)
  • The “Good Morning Transylvania” Announcer in The Munsters (2022)

But Dee Wallace Doesn’t Exclusively Play Mom Roles!

So, yeah; Dee Wallace has played a LOT of mom roles. And that trend extends far beyond the horror genre. She was also the voice of Mother in Rock-A-Doodle (1991) and she was Andy Bernard’s mom on The Office.

And her role as Ellen Bernard on The Office wasn’t her only character on a television series! She was also Janice in the “Wish Bank” episode of the 1980’s revival of The Twilight Zone as well as Mildred Baker on Supernatural (S11;Ep11).

Dee Wallace in Supernatural Mildred Baker

And fans of Ti West’s horror films may know her as the landlady in The House of the Devil (2009).

But, if you’re like I am, there are two non-mom Dee Wallace characters that are your absolute favorites:

Karen White in The Howling (1981)

Dee Wallace as Karen White in The Howling werewolf horror movie

In this iconic werewolf horror film, Dee Wallace stars as Karen White, a television journalist who travels to a remote mountain resort with her husband after a traumatic encounter with a serial killer leaves her with amnesia. While there, she basically has the worst weekend ever, and that’s putting it mildly!

As Karen works through her trauma to recover her memories, she also has to deal with her husband’s infidelity, a missing body from the morgue, the return of her serial killer stalker, the weirdos known as the “Colony” who live at the resort, and – yeah – werewolves. It sounds a bit chaotic, but Wallace delivers a memorable performance that anchors The Howling‘s unique blend of horror and mystery.

Plus, the ending is absolutely iconic. I guarantee you’ve either seen it or seen parodies of it.

But my very, very favorite Dee Wallce role is…

Patricia Bradley in The Frighteners (1996)

Dee Wallace as Patricia Bradley in Peter Jackson's The Frighteners

I’ve mentioned several times that The Frighteners (1996) is one of my top five favorite movies — and Dee Wallace is a large part of that! And that large part is the role of Patricia Bradley, a seemingly meek woman with a dark and twisted past.

Her character’s transformation throughout the film is chilling, showcasing Wallace’s ability to embody both vulnerability and malevolence in a single role. If horror weren’t such an oft-snubbed genre at awards ceremonies, Dee Wallace would’ve been raking in ALL of the best actress awards for her performance in The Frighteners!

Speaking of incredibly prestigious awards…

Dee Wallace Is Also a Horror Hottie!

Dee Wallace 3rd Horror Hottie

Yep. I’m making it official. Thus far, the “Horror Hotties” category has only been used twice: Heather Landry inducted Vincent Price in 2020, and then Christi Bandy gushed her love for Lisa Wilcox in 2022.

Now, in 2024, during the month that praises mothers, I’m declaring Dee Wallace our third Horror Hottie.

For her many, many contributions to the horror genre (I only skimmed the surface in this post!), her talent and versatility, as well as her undeniable adorableness, I think this honor is extremely well-deserved.

Give Dee Wallace some love on Twitter X and Instagram and let her know how special she is to all of us as horror fans. Thanks for everything, Dee!!

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Images used in this post were purchased from MovieStillsDB, CineMaterial, Filmgrab, and Shotdeck.

About the Author

Lauren Spear (née Tharp) is the owner of, a formerly super-respectable multiple award-winning website for freelance writers that's now just a wacky place where she tries to cheer people up any way she can. Lauren's also's primary founder/owner! Lauren grew up in the horror industry (her parents did practical special FX work for many of the horror movies you love from the '80s and '90s) and she basically created this site so she could freely gas on about creepy stuff and stop having to pretend to be normal. o_O

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