my mommy, the jerk

Mommy. Mommy? Mommy!!! It's the first word most of us learn (after Vodka and Tonic, of course). But what would you do if your Mommy was a cold-hearted wench? If you're like me, you'd probably start looking for a Daddy.

•Straight-Jacket (1964)--Joan Crawford rips it up as a demented Mommy murderess trying to mend her mean ways and go back to being a nice lady. But when she returns from her stint in the nut house, everyone seems to be on edge around dear old Ma. Could she really have given up her axe-wielding ways? A William Castle (The Tingler, 13 Ghosts) classic, he provides deft direction and his trademark "gimmick," which in this case is the "Fright-o-Meter" which gives you 60 seconds to leave the theater before the scary ending. My advice: don't leave.

•Picture Mommy Dead (1966)--Poor Mommy (Zsa Zsa Gabor) got all burned up in a fire. Now ten years later, little Susan, the only witness to her mother's death, is being released from the convent. But being back in the house where the ill event happened proves too much for Susie, as she starts to hear things and claw at pictures of Mommy. To make matters worse, Daddy (the great Don Ameche) has shacked up with a Mommy look-alike. But lil' Sue will have the last laugh, even if it's a cuckoo-crazy one. If anything, see it for the Zsa Zsa scenes, which are filmed as super-cool, magenta-tinted flashbacks.

•Mommie Dearest (1981)--The movie that made me second-guess owning wire hangers--forever--and stars Faye Dunaway devouring the screen as anarchic Mommie, Joan Crawford. Dead set on making life unlivable for little adopted Christina and her brother, this is hands-down required Mother's Day viewing. Make a drinking game out of it! Make your mommie take a shot every time Faye gets that crayyyzee look in her eye. Watching this after Straight-Jacket is highly advised... BRIAN BRAIT