For Mother’s Day, we looked at Dee Wallace — the Ultimate horror movie mom. For Father’s Day, rather than doing a deep-dive into one real person, we decided it’d be fun to look at over a dozen fictional people! To be specific, we’re checking out the best and worst horror movie dads.

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Nathan Grantham from Creepshow (1982)

Watch Creepshow (1982) on Amazon Prime. (2hr; R)

Nathan Grantham from Creepshow (1982)

Nathan “Nate” Grantham from the “Father’s Day” segment of Creepshow (1982) is not exactly the kind of dad you’d want at your family picnic. Rising from the grave demanding his Father’s Day cake, Nate is a textbook example of a dad who never quite lets go — even after death.

In life, he was a wealthy, tyrannical father who bullied his daughter Bedelia until she finally snapped and murdered him. Nate’s post-mortem return is driven by vengeance and a craving for the cake he felt entitled to, showcasing his relentless and vindictive nature. As he gruesomely dispatches his descendants one by one, he embodies the horror trope of the vengeful patriarch.

His character, though brief in screen time, leaves a lasting impression with his chilling demand, “Where’s my cake, Bedelia?” making every Father’s Day celebration feel just a bit more ominous from the memory.

Lee Abbott from A Quiet Place (2018)

Watch A Quiet Place (2018) on Amazon Prime. (1hr30min; PG-13)

Lee Abbott from A Quiet Place (2018)

In stark contrast, we have Lee Abbott from A Quiet Place (2018). Now here’s a dad who’s the epitome of self-sacrifice and ingenuity.

In a world terrorized by alien monsters who’re attracted to sound, Lee teaches his kids to survive in silence, going to extraordinary lengths to protect his family. His relationship with his children, especially his daughter Regan, is heartfelt and poignant. Regan, who is deaf, struggles with her own feelings of guilt and isolation, and Lee’s efforts to create a safe and loving environment for her are both moving and heroic.

The quiet (heh!) intensity of Lee’s love and the innovative ways he communicates and protects his children underscore the deep bond he shares with them. Lee’s actions highlight the primal instinct of a father to protect his family at any and all costs, making his character one of the most unforgettable horror movie dads in recent years.

Henry Spencer from Eraserhead (1977)

Watch Eraserhead (1977) on Amazon Prime. (1hr29min; Not Rated)

Henry Spencer from Eraserhead (1977)

Henry Spencer from Eraserhead (1977) is a single dad who’s perpetually perplexed by his nightmarish existence. Which isn’t uncommon for new parents (the newborn-to-adulthood years of child-rearing can be tough!), but Henry’s really got a lot going on.

With a mutant baby that’s more creepy than cute, Henry’s journey through fatherhood is bizarre and surreal. Living in an industrial wasteland, Henry’s life is dominated by eerie imagery and unsettling sounds, reflecting his inner turmoil. His wife, Mary, abandons him — after they were forced into marriage following one of the weirdest family dinner scenes put to film — leaving him to care for their grotesque child alone.

While he’s not winning any Father of the Year awards, Henry’s genuine attempts to care for his child (“oh, you ARE sick, aren’t you?”) in the face of overwhelming oddity make him a uniquely sympathetic character. David Lynch’s surreal film ensures Henry’s place in horror history as a dad who shows us just how strange and challenging parenthood can be.

His quiet despair and moments of tenderness amidst the chaos provide a haunting look at the fears and anxieties that come with being a parent. Henry’s character serves as a metaphor for the overwhelming responsibilities and unpredictable nature of fatherhood.

Detective Del Crenshaw from The Monster Squad (1987)

Watch The Monster Squad (1987) on Amazon Prime. (1hr22min; PG-13)

The Monster Squad Detective Del Crenshaw

His marriage is falling apart due to struggling to balance his work duties and his husband duties but, as a father, Detective Del Crenshaw from The Monster Squad (1987) shows he’s always ready to protect and support his children.

He doesn’t necessarily share his children’s interests, but he works with them to find ways they can all be happy. For example, at one point in the story, Del has a marriage counseling appointment with his wife that means Sean (his son) will need to babysit Phoebe (his daughter). The problem? Sean was planning to see a horror movie that night!

He teases Sean a little about the “no plot” movie in question, but he sympathizes with Sean’s desire to watch it. It’s not important to him, but he knows it means a lot to his son and, therefore, it IS important to him because his SON is important to him… But so is making sure his four-year-old daughter isn’t home alone! He does the difficult, responsible thing and tells Sean he has to stay home – but he promises to take him to see the movie the next day, and gives him five bucks.

Sean, worried that his friends would spoil the movie’s plot before he catch up with it (they were seeing it opening night while he had to stay home!), sneaks up onto the roof of their home to watch it from afar. Del, proving he knows his son all-too-well, shows up with burgers asking, “What’d I miss?” and they watch the drive-in movie together through binoculars. (A scene that includes the description “it’s moments like this that make all the hard parts worth it” in the actual screenplay for The Monster Squad – very cute!).

And, like Nancy’s cop dad in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Det. Del Crenshaw brings the monster-hunting firepower to the battle when his children need him most! Which reminds us, it’s about time to talk about…

Lt. Donald “Don” Thompson from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Watch A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) on Amazon Prime. (1hr31min; R)

Lt. Donald "Don" Thompson from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) - best horror movie dads

Lt. Donald “Don” Thompson from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) might be a tough cop, but his parenting skills are more hit-or-miss. As the father of Nancy, he’s a bit too skeptical of her claims about Freddy Krueger, the dream-stalking killer. His dedication to his job as a police officer overshadows his ability to believe and support his daughter when she needs it most.

Despite his flaws, Don’s eventual realization and attempts to protect Nancy add a layer of complexity to his character, making him a memorable horror movie dad.

Don’s journey from disbelief to action reflects the often complicated relationships between parents and teenagers, especially when confronting unimaginable threats. His character serves as a reminder that sometimes, parents need to look beyond their skepticism and trust their children’s instincts. Don should be proud that he helped to raise one of the best Final Girls!

Manny Gavoila from Mimic (1997)

Watch Mimic (1997) on Amazon Prime. (1hr45min; R)

Manny Gavoila from Mimic (1997)

Manny Gavoila from Mimic (1997) is a memorable figure in horror cinema, largely because of his dedication and love for his autistic (grand)son, Chuy. Living in a grimy, decaying New York City apartment building, Manny is a shoe shiner desperately trying to make ends meet while caring for Chuy.

Manny is Chuy’s primary guardian — his sole parental figure — through kinship adoption and is Chuy’s father in every way that matters. Namely, his love for his son is evident in every frame. He describes his son as “special” and never tries to force him to be anything he’s not; proudly showing strangers Chuy’s artwork (wire figurines), his ability to play the spoons, and his talents for recognizing someone’s shoe size and make within seconds.

Manny is a good dad in the sense that he is completely devoted to his son. He’s protective, understanding, and endlessly patient. His world revolves around Chuy, and he does everything he can to ensure his son’s safety and well-being.

This dedication, however, also puts him in the crosshairs of the monstrous creatures that inhabit the sewers beneath their building. Manny’s heroism is subtle and rooted in everyday acts of care and love, making his character stand out in the horror genre where father figures often oscillate between neglectful and abusive. Manny’s dedication, humility, and bravery make him a standout character and a memorable horror movie dad.

Dr. Peter Mann from Mimic (1997)

Dr. Peter Mann from Mimic (1997)

27-year-old spoilers, incoming: Following Manny’s demise, Dr. Peter Mann steps in as a surrogate father figure (perhaps adoptive father post-credits?) for young Chuy. It had been established earlier on in Mimic that Peter and his wife, Susan, both really want to be parents but were struggling to conceive on their own. Adoption seems like a wonderful choice for the couple, and we, as the audience, are left feeling like Chuy will be well-loved (though we’re still sorry Manny was killed in the process).

Peter’s efforts to understand and communicate with Chuy, much like Manny did, highlight the significance of empathy and patience in fatherhood. His transformation into a father figure emphasizes the notion that family is not just about blood relations but also about the bonds we choose to create and nurture. He’s not, technically, a stepfather but he IS a father who stepped up! But, on the topic of stepfathers…

Jerry Blake from The Stepfather (1987)

Watch The Stepfather (1987) on Amazon Prime. (1hr29min; R)

Jerry Blake from The Stepfather (1987)

Jerry Blake AKA Henry Morrison AKA Bill Hodgkins in The Stepfather (1987), is the ultimate example of a bad dad with a chilling twist. Underneath his charming exterior lies a murderous psychopath who craves the “perfect” family — and will kill to achieve it.

Jerry’s menacing presence and twisted sense of fatherhood make him one of horror’s most terrifying dads. His ability to seamlessly blend into new families while hiding his sinister intentions creates a chilling portrait of domestic horror and serves as a stark warning about the dangers of idealizing perfection.

Truly perfect families aren’t perfect. And stepfathers can be awesome… Jerry wasn’t.

Louis Creed from Pet Sematary (1989)

Watch Pet Sematary (1989) on Amazon Prime. (1hr43min; R)

Pet Semetary dad Louis Creed

Louis Creed from Pet Sematary (1989) teaches us that sometimes love and grief can lead to terrifying decisions. When tragedy strikes his family with the death of his young son, Gage, Louis’ desperation leads him to the cursed burial ground that brings the dead back to life.

Initially, Louis Creed uses the pet cemetery to resurrect his daughter’s beloved cat, Church, but the true horror begins when he decides to bring Gage back. The resurrection comes with dire consequences, as Gage returns not as the sweet boy he was, but as something far more sinister.

Louis’s story is a haunting reminder that living in houses next to heavily-trafficked roads and unattended toddlers don’t mix. Kidding aside, the death of a child is every parents’ worst nightmare and even though horror fans have known for decades — even before this 1989 classic, based on Stephen King’s 1983 novel of the same name — that bringing the dead back to life is a BAD idea, it’s easy to empathize with why Louis succumbed to the temptation.

David Drayton from The Mist (2007)

Watch The Mist (2007) on Amazon Prime. (2hr6min; R)

The Mist dad David Drayton

Speaking of tragic Stephen King dads, David Drayton from The Mist (2007) faces an unimaginable horror when a mysterious mist envelops his town, bringing with it deadly creatures. Trapped in a supermarket with his young son, David’s primary focus is on protecting him.

The tension and terror build as the group inside faces not only the external threat of the creatures but also the internal threat of hysteria and conflict among themselves. David’s role as a father is put to the ultimate test as he navigates these dangers while trying to keep his son safe. The film’s devastating climax, where David makes a heart-wrenching decision to spare his son from suffering, is one of the most shocking and tragic moments in horror cinema.

His love and desperate choices highlight the extreme lengths a father might go to in the face of hopelessness. David’s character embodies the themes of sacrifice and the unimaginable burden of making impossible decisions for the sake of loved ones.

George Lutz from The Amityville Horror (2005)

Watch The Amityville Horror (2005) on Amazon Prime. (1hr30min; R)

The Amityville Horror 2005 George Lutz

George Lutz from The Amityville Horror (2005) finds himself at the mercy of a haunted house that preys on his fears and insecurities. As the supernatural forces in the house intensify, George’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic and dangerous. His transformation from a caring father to a potential threat to his family adds a chilling layer to the haunted house narrative.

George’s descent into madness is a gripping portrayal of how external evil can corrupt even the most well-meaning dad. His story is a tense journey from protector to potential destroyer, showcasing the fragile balance between love and madness.

Though, according to Lauren and her father, it’s impossible not to laugh during the “when you get shaky, *I* get shaky” father-and-son wood chopping scene. And it’s that’s bonding-through-laughter moment that landed the 2005 remake of The Amityville Horror – with a young Ryan Reynolds in the role of George – on our list instead of the generally more well-received 1979 original: Because we think it’s the more fun horror movie for Father’s Day and we hope you and your own dad will get a kick out of it too!

James Sandin from The Purge (2013)

Watch The Purge (2013) on Amazon Prime. (1hr25min; R)

The Purge dad James Sandin

James Sandin from The Purge (2013) is a dad who discovers the dark side of his own beliefs. As someone actively profiting off of the Purge, a night where all crime is legal, James initially believes he’s protecting his family with state-of-the-art security and that they’re properly distanced (both literally and morally) from the chaos outside.

However, when their home is invaded by a group of masked intruders, James realizes the true horror of the society he’s, indirectly or otherwise, endorsed. James’s character arc highlights the dangers of moral complacency and the need for ethical responsibility — especially because the values you have/model are the ones you teach.

It’s difficult to judge anyone’s entire personality or parenting abilities in two hours or less (and that goes for all of the fathers on this just-for-fun horror movie dads list!) but even though James doesn’t seem to be the best person, he does what he can to be the best father. He puts his kids first, even before his own life, and that puts him closer to the “good” side of the spectrum when it comes to horror movie dads.

Roger Perron from The Conjuring (2013)

Watch The Conjuring (2013) on Amazon Prime. (1hr52min; R)

The Conjuring Roger Perron

Roger Perron from The Conjuring (2013) is a girl dad (times five!) who finds himself up against malevolent supernatural forces from within their new home. As far as horror movie dads go, Roger is one of the most normal, everyday kinda dudes. But his unwavering support and protection of his wife and daughters as they endure terrifying hauntings showcase his strength and determination.

Roger’s role as the steady, reassuring presence amidst the chaos makes him a standout father figure who faces the unknown with courage and love. His dedication to his family is evident as he works tirelessly to protect them from the dark forces plaguing their home. There’s also a few nice moments where he and demonologist (and fellow girl dad!) Ed Warren work together to battle the Perron’s haunted home.

Steve Freeling from Poltergeist (1982)

Watch Poltergeist (1982) on Amazon Prime. (1hr54min; PG)

Poltergeist Steve Freeling

Steve Freeling from Poltergeist (1982) is another horror dad who finds himself dealing with a haunted house.

When his daughter Carol Anne is abducted by malevolent spirits, Steve’s desperation and determination to get her back drive the film’s emotional core. His relentless efforts to rescue Carol Anne, including facing terrifying entities and navigating a house that turns increasingly hostile, are the mark of a real-life superhero. (Its no wonder his actor went on to play Mr. Incredible, one of Pixar’s most memorable heroic dads!)

Jack Torrance from The Shining (1980)

Watch The Shining (1980) on Amazon Prime. (2hr26min; R)

The Shining 1980 bad horror dads Jack Torrance

You can’t talk about horror movie dads without bringing up Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of Jack Torrance. Ask any of your horror lovin’ friends who comes to mind first when you ask them to think of a horror movie dad! It’s’ gonna be Jack. Even people who don’t watch horror films are familiar with Jack.

We’re not talking about the book, or the television mini-series, or the stage play, or any other adaptations… Jack Torrance from The Shining (1980) is arguably THE most iconic of all the horror movie dads, but not for his amazing parenting skills.

As the winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, Jack’s descent into madness is both terrifying, tragic, and completely unsurprising. Did anyone else watch the scenes before he arrives at The Overlook hotel? 1980’s Jack Torrance was already 8/10ths unhinged — the hotel’s malevolent influence only needed to give him a light tap to push him completely over the edge and exacerbate his already present abusive behavior and violent tendencies. The threat he poses to his wife Wendy and son Danny — both before and after he “goes mad” — cement his place as possibly the worst dad in horror movie history.

But which dad is the BEST…?

Gomez Addams from The Addams Family (1991)

Watch The Addams Family (1991) on Amazon Prime. (1hr39min; PG-13)

Gomez Addams from The Addams Family (1991) best horror movie dads

No matter what form of media it is, Gomez Addams is THE best horror dad (perhaps the best dad in ANY genre?? Debate in the comments!!). From the original comics, to John Astin’s absolutely legendary portrayal in the 1960’s Addams Family TV show, to Tim Curry in the 1990’s Addams Family TV movies, to Nathan Lane on Broadway, to Luis Guzmán in Netflix’s Wednesday, and so many other interpretations: Gomez Addams is always awesome.

But, since this list is focusing on horror movie dads, it’s our absolute honor to shine the spotlight on Raul Julia as Gomez Addams in The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993). Not only did Raul Julia knock it out of the park with his multi-faceted performance that truly brought home the depths of Gomez’s wonderful character, Raul Julia’s Gomez has been important for multiple generations of fans and potential fans. Boomers who grew up loving 1960’s Gomez were able to connect with their Millennial & Zillennials children via Raul Julia’s 1990’s Gomez… who then became the bridge from the other side as Millennial & Zillennial parents connect with their kids over Luis Guzmán’s or Oscar Issac’s Gomezs.

Gomez’s passion for his wife, Morticia, is his most well-known, defining character trait. But here’s the thing… Gomez is passionate about every aspect of his life! He never does anything without his whole heart, and that includes being a father.

It’s easy for Gomez to encourage his children to be themselves because he’s unapologetically himself. He loves model/toy trains, so he plays with his trains! He loves his wife, and he never holds back when it comes to showing it! And he absolutely LOVES his children and does everything he can to support them, even if their activities/interests don’t perfectly mirror his own (remember when he went to the boring school play in The Addams Family just to watch/support Wednesday and Pugsley? or his confusion over why they’d want to go to summer camp in Addams Family Values – but he still allowed them to go!).

Gomez Addams cares about his ENTIRE family. His mother, Grandmama, lives with him as does his brother, Fester (who was estranged, much to Gomez’s dismay, at the start of 1991’s The Addams Family and much of the plot revolves around Gomez seeking ways to welcome him back to the family), and he has a friendly relationship with his entire extended family as well!

But, like every truly great father, Gomez was shown to be willing to distance himself from even his own brother if it meant keeping his children and his wife safe — even if it left his own passionate heart broken. Gomez Addams from The Addams Family (1991), with his eccentric charm and unwavering devotion to his family, is the epitome of a good dad.

Raul Julia Gomez Addams best horror dad

Gomez’s unique blend of morbid fascination and boundless affection makes him a standout father who proves that being a little weird can be wonderfully endearing. His character shows that even in a family that revels in the macabre, love and loyalty are paramount. Gomez’s story is a joyful celebration of playful individuality, the importance of remaining passionate and curious well into adulthood, and the immense power of embracing one’s unique qualities — and encouraging your children to do the same!

Which Horror Movie Dads Stand Out to YOU?

Gomez Addams from Addams Family Values

So, there you have it — horror movie dads who range from the heroic to the horrific, each bringing their unique flavor to the genre. Whether they’re battling supernatural forces, grappling with their own demons, or just trying to keep their family together, these dads make for compelling and unforgettable characters.

This Father’s Day weekend, take a moment to appreciate the dads in your life and maybe watch a horror movie or two. And let us know in the comments which horror movie dads YOU think stand out!

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Images in this review of horror movie dads were purchased from MovieStillsDB and Shotdeck.

About the Author

In their itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, yellow polka-dot bikini, Wanda is ready for some water-based fun! They're also a lifesaver for guest posters who prefer to use a pseudonym/remain anonymous for their submissions. Want your horror article published but don't want anyone to know it was you who wrote it? Wanda's got you covered.

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