Girl Gang: Stephen King Character Edition

Inspired as always by the brilliant Meghan Lightle and her Avengers Girl Gang, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the mighty female characters of Stephen King’s books. While some of his books are decidedly female-ccentric, it isn’t always the girls that get the glory. I’m here to round them up for my own personal girl gang needs.

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Emily Perkins (1990) ~ Sophia Lillis (2017) ~ Annette O’Toole (1990)

Beverly Marsh

“I’m not afraid of you!”

Our Bev is a fighter and no mistake. A victim of childhood abuse at the hands of her father, she grows up to fulfill her creative dreams but still has to deal with the weak bullshit of men throughout her life. The only girl in the Losers Club, I feel like Bev could do with some girl power in her life, not that there’s anything wrong with the dynamic of that original squad (icky adolescent orgy aside).

Bev isn’t afraid to get stuck in when it comes to bullies nor stick up for what is right at all costs, and these are qualities you need in a friendship circle. Plus, she’s a ginger like me (in the book and most recent adaptation).

Timothy Hutton and Amy Madigan (as Elizabeth Beaumont) in George A. Romero‘s The Dark Half (1993)

Elizabeth Beaumont

In The Dark Half, Elizabeth is a plucky and resourceful character who has to deal with an awful lot of upheaval when her author husband Thaddeus takes on his supernatural killer twin, George Stark. Stark is best described as other-wordly and not altogether human, born of the page created by Thad himself. When she finds herself caught in all the drama of Stark’s ‘birth’ (read the book), Elizabeth remains level-headed and pragmatic. She’s a mother lion ferociously protecting her twin cubs (twins run the family, what can I say) and she doesn’t suffer fools.

In all of Thad’s scenes I wanted to read more about Elizabeth, who deserves more than just a supporting role. More female central protagonists please, Mr King!

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Chloë Grace Moretz (2013) ~ Carrie cover ~ Sissy Spacek (1976)

Carrie White

“It was time to teach them All a lesson, time to show them… a thing or two!”

Okay, so Carrie is a little bit freaky deaky but she’s a talented telekinetic and how fun would that be? You could have her tip cups of coffee over mansplainers all day long with no come back.

Plus, how much did Carrie just need a damn good friend to stand beside her and say, You’re fine babe just as you are and these high school days, they mean nothing in the end? I’d take her under my wing and I’d just have to be sure I never upset her.

(Admittedly, the movie version of Carrie White seemed a little fluffier than the book version).

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Shelley Duvall (1980) ~ Rebecca De Mornay (1997) ~ Wendy Torrance fan art

Wendy Torrance

Mrs T is slightly irritating but she’s also a damn survivor and that makes her okay in my book. She’s quick to pick fault in her husband Jack but to be fair he’s not the nicest dude (in the book more so – he breaks his son’s arm even before he goes insane in The Overlook).

I think we’d get on because I know what it’s like to be in a relationship that has you walking on eggshells (past, don’t worry) and I kind of dig her kooky wardrobe. She seems like fun when she’s not stressed out.

Who’s in your gang?

UPDATE: A friend on Twitter pointed out that she’d choose Rose Madder and Dolores Claiborne for not putting up with any shit from men and I realised I’d forgotten to add Rose to my list.

Dolores I’m sure is a worthy contender but I haven’t read her story yet, and can barely remember the film. So shout out to these two women who are welcome to join the gang anytime! 

Autumn Reading List 🍂 

Putzel (97)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Yep, Autumn reading season and I can’t wait to get stuck in.

Inspired by new podcast What Page Are You On, I’ve purchased some new books and added them to a few I already had queued up. Now I just need some chunky knitwear and some slightly cooler evenings, and I’ll be good to go.

Here’s what I’m planning on reading:


I added this to my pile because of a conversation had on WPAYO podcast. Alice and Bethany discuss how fat characters are/have been portrayed in literature, and the subject of Carrie came up.

Carrie White was apparently written as fat but has been represented in every screen adaptation as slim (because, Hollywood). I thought this was interesting, so I want to read it for myself.

Stephen King: On Writing

You’ll notice a pattern within this post, as this is the second of three books I was influenced to buy by the above mentioned source. On Writing has been on my radar for years and is meant to be a great read – now is as good a time as any, right? (Definitely having a SK revival/love-in after It, which I loved).


This is a YA book but it sounds amazing and I’m looking forward to meeting Willowdean (AKA Dumplin’), a fat Texan teen who enters a beauty pageant to annoy her mother. Right? Break me off a piece of that.

The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye

I only learnt about this new release this week and snapped it up immediately. Another chance to spend time with Lisbeth? No brainer. Plus, Ms Salander’s currently in a prison situation, which sounds brilliant.

Nocturnal Animals

I enjoyed the film adaptation of this but the book is, as expected, much better. I have the last chapter to go but I’ve loved it so far. The story within a story framing is interesting, as we witness Susan Morrow reacting to her first reading of ex-husband Edward’s debut novel. The tale is dark, both in ‘real time’ and within Edward Sheffield’s book – and there’s something really pleasant about the writing.

This was on my Winter Reading List last year but I kept putting it off because I thought it would be too heavy and kind of dull. I was wrong.

What are you guys reading? Let me know!

3 Women (Film) Review

Abba took a very different artistic turn when the men left

Welcome to Blog Free or Die Hard, where no film choice is wrong. Except maybe this one, which I take full and guilty responsibility for.

When the best you can say about a film is that it’s ‘atmospheric’, you know you’ve got problems, son. I had to watch multiple episodes of Chewing Gum straight after this 2 HOUR SNOOZEFEST just to erase my own memory for a while.

Sadly, it has proven short-term as it’s all still right here. Handy for a film review, annoying for the rest of life. Still, since Jill and I in the business of ripping the shit out of movies, this one should be a peach.

Shall we?

There are *spoilers* here so be careful, though trust me, it won’t make a difference.

3 Women (1977)

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Sissy Spacek, Shelley Duvall, Janice Rule

IMDB Synopsis: Pinky is an awkward adolescent who starts work at a spa in the California desert. She becomes overly attached to fellow spa attendant, Millie when she becomes Millie’s room-mate.

My Review:

We open on a swimming pool full of golden oldies being lead around by seventies nymphs in uniform grey swimming costumes. All this is set to one of the most jarring soundtracks I’ve ever heard (it also feels like trigger music, see: Zoolander’s Relax). The effect is ominous AF and I guess that’s exactly the point.

I don’t know if it’s Spacek’s presence or the truth but this scene, with its frenetic use of the music and slightly hazy, languishing shots, are reminiscent of Carrie (1976).

Just happy no-one's telling her to 'plug it up'
Just happy no-one’s telling her to ‘plug it up’

Spacek is all wide-eyed waif of course but less Carrie than in Carrie. As Pinky, she’s a ball of childlike energy. New to town (from Texas), new to the job with seemingly no friends or family, Pinky is vulnerable but I didn’t really feel that sorry for her, given that she’s so freaking annoying.

She sets her sights (for some reason) on the elegant Millie, who has a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp at all times. She’s cold man, and sometimes another ‘c’ word, which I won’t use in this review (but only because my mum might read it).

The other girls at the retirement centre where they all work are quite fun. Super bitchy and indifferent to everything around them, but fun. They just aren’t that into Millie, if truth be told.

How they laughed (which is weird as I don't remember Millie smiling once)
How they laughed (which is weird as I don’t remember Millie smiling once)

Pinky and Millie build a precarious  friendship, which is mostly one-sided. When Millie needs a roommate, Pinky jumps at the opportunity. Millie is appalled at the uncouth way in which Pinky behaves, though she doesn’t drink, smoke or seem to have any sexual experience, while Millie is all about men.

Always good to take a roommate who disgusts you, I feel.

Shit just got real weird
Shit just got real weird

The new roomies spend time at a desert bar called Dodge City where we meet, presumably, the third woman – Willie Hart. Willie is mostly mute, a bit trippy and heavily pregnant. She is married to Edgar (a former stuntman and don’t we bloody know it). She also paints bizarre murals that appear throughout the film, one of which depicts 3 women.


Anyway, this film takes over 2 HOURS to do what a nice 90 minute film could of done. In short hand, Millie is as unpopular as Pinky but either has the hide of a rhinoceros or just can’t read basic social signals, because she just isn’t taking a hint.

This aesthetic, all day, erryday

Pinky is unpopular because she’s weird but desperation rises like steam from Millie, who seems to have ideas above her station, trying to entice friends to dinner parties (when she serves pigs in blankets, count me in).

One night she gets stood up by her so-called friends and goes to Dodge City, alone. She returns, drunk, in the early hours with Edgar and they ain’t planning to talk about his former ‘acting’ career, if you know what I mean.

Pinky looks shocked (more likely nauseous) and Millie goes off on one about being judged, telling Pinky that nobody likes her because she doesn’t drink or smoke. She then tells her to move out.

Pinky takes it well by throwing herself into the apartment block’s pool, knocking herself unconscious. In the furore, Willie saves her (man, this woman has a full-time job running a bar, paints all the time and is also 9 months pregnant, a little help here!). She also witnesses Edgar leaving Millie’s, the dirty fucker. She judges him hard with her eyes.

Also, I hadn’t realised that they all lived in the same block until this moment.

Millie finally does something sort of kind, and runs around dealing with Pinky’s business, rounding up her parents (who live in Texas) and puts them up while her friend is in a coma. When Pinky wakes however she claims she’s never seen these old people in her life and screams for them to fuck off.

This part is never explained as far as I know, nor resolved. They simply go home to Texas and aren’t heard from again. Pinky recovers quickly and has suddenly become a drinker, smoker and all-round sex bomb. She also learns. to. shoot!

“When you absolutely, positively got to kill every motherfucker in the room, accept no substitutes.”

She starts wearing make-up (the markings of a sexual woman) and plays games with Millie, who’s desperate for what? Redemption, I guess. This change in their roles is interesting… for about 10 seconds. Sadly, it’s not really seen through.

There’s a bit of a sideline when we find out that Pinky has used Millie’s Social Security number for some reason and Millie, sticking up for her friend, quits her job over it. Pinky then starts screwing Edgar and… I’m leaving this here because I have spend way too much time on this dreadful film already.

There’s a flipping bizarre and awkward climax – and then… well, I don’t really get it, I won’t lie.


What the fuck is the point? is my overall feeling. Why is it so slow? is another. Howevs, to do this properly, some real questions:

Will Pinky and Millie make it together as friends? Will their roles revert back? Will you care by the end of the second hour?

Who in their right mind would go anywhere near Edgar? And what of his beautiful preggo wife, and their wee baby?

You’ll see. If you can be arsed. If not, I can email you the ending so you don’t have to waste any of your precious time on this utter codswallop.

My Thoughts:

Don’t make me think about this anymore. It’s horrendous.

I’m surprised that Robert Altman has let me down so badly but then again, I’m sure he thought he knew what he was doing. The whole film is supposed to make you feel uneasy but there’s just not enough in it. No real danger in the end (for the women, at least), just mind games.

So much is unexplained and unless I missed it when I went to the loo, part of the climax happens off screen, which makes it feel unfinished (thinking about it, I might have missed it). I don’t get the ending at all. It’s all just very bizarre and I’m sure it’s not just because I’m a thicko.

Any positives? Hm. Well, Sissy Spacek and Shelley Duvall are both very beautiful, I enjoyed looking at them.

I was going to say that maybe they were both chosen for their work in other iconic horror movies (Carrie/The Shining (1980)) but sadly, that theory has to be thrown out the window (The Shining was made 3 years after this one). Both are 1 million times superior and both probably in my Top 25 of all time.

Can I have a nap now? 

My Rating: 1.5/5 – Don’t bother. It’s shit.

So, will Jillian still be willing to be my Blog Wife after I’ve steered us so spectacularly wrong? Or did she love it? Find out here.

“Hello? Yes, I’d like to speak to someone who gives a shit. About this film I mean…”

If I Stay (Film) Review

tumblr_n7uu8ntGEa1txydcmo1_1280This wasn’t my original choice for our Free For All Fortnight, which is what I’ve just now dubbed the next two weeks of reviews. I wanted Whiplash (2014) but Netflix lied to me and it wasn’t really there.

Jill and I will be retreating into the comforting bosom of the Horror genre for the month of October so we’ll each be taking the opportunity to pick absolutely anything this week and next.

I can’t wait to see what Jillian picks, I hope to God it’s better than this drivel. No pressure.

(I’m going to be really harsh on this film, I’m afraid).

*Beware spoilers!*

If I Stay (2014)

Director: R.J Cutler
Stars: Chloë Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley

IMDB Synopsis: Life changes in an instant for young Mia Hall after a car accident puts her in a coma. During an out-of-body experience, she must decide whether to wake up and live a life far different than she had imagined. The choice is hers if she can go on..

My Review:

Mia Hall is just a normal teenager, obsessed with Beethoven and a bit of a whizz on the old cello. She’s also got a super fit boyfriend who’s in a band, currently off on tour somewhere.

Her parents are former punks who gave it all up to be good parents to Mia and her young brother, Teddy and that’s about it. One fine snow day, the family take off in the car. Alas, in a split second their lives are changed forever.

Mia's first driving lesson went well she thought
Mia’s first driving lesson went well she thought

As the trailer and synopsis of this film reveal, Mia is thrown into a fight to survive. While she has an out-of-body experience (not as good as Ghost (1990)), and finds out what has become of the rest of the family following the crash (there’s a crash), we are treated to a bunch of flashbacks that lead up to this fateful day.

We learn about her relationship with sexy Adam, who falls for her through the door of the music room when she’s lost in music one day. Of how she’s never really been that comfortable in ‘his world’.

(Dear God I cannot express enough how different Mia’s high school experience is to the one I had. If this were a flashback to my adolescence, Mia would be played by a chubby ginger with an eye patch just trying to get through the day without drawing attention to herself.)

“I’m King of the World!”

We take a trip down Cello Lane where we’re treated to a sweet lesson on how Mia found a soul-mate in her beloved instrument and just how fucking cool her parents are. Which is a bit of a kicker when…

… should I? (I can’t).

Basically, the film centres around a hospital and Mia’s not only physically fighting for her life but also fighting for a reason to stay on this plane – hence the title – so obviously there are a few fatalities along the way. Hope you’ve got the Kleenex to hand!

Going down?
Going down?

I’m not going to beat around the bush here, I feel sick from working out this morning (go me) and I know later, when I get home from work, that I’ll be heading straight to my bed for at least an hour to try and shift this feeling. My heart’s just not in this film and it won’t be in this review later. So let’s do this.

The premise is a good one I guess but it has been done and it’s been done with a hell of a lot more panache too. Before I give you my thoughts, shall we have a few questions?

As you wish. 

Will Mia and fam get through this awful night? Will Mia live to make it work with Adam, despite the distance between them while he’s on the road and she’s off fulfilling her own destiny? (e.g. Will Mia get into The Julliard School, NYC?)

And will you actually care? I guess that is the main question.

“Oh fuck! This isn’t a base guitar!”

My Thoughts: 

Chloë Moretz is beautiful. I like her, I do. But I sometimes feel like she’s punished (maybe just in my eyes) for not being Hit Girl in every performance outside the Kick Ass movies. I feel like she should always be cool and sweary and fearless – and often she is not. Even in Carrie (2013) she was all cow eyes and not much more (although she was M-E-A-N in Dark Places (2015), so I know there’s potential there).

None of the above is really her fault tbh and I’m sure she’ll grow into a fine actress who will make me eat my hat. But this here is just not the role.

The movie is sweet in places (I guess), touching in others (those grandparents, man!) and really fucking boring for a lot of it (90%). Adam is a total fitty, Mia’s parents are gorgeously layback – all the teen angst is fine, I mean we’ve all been there but would Adam really be that sure of himself and so open about his emotions aged what. 19? I don’t know. It’s all a little too Dawson’s Creek (1998-2003) for me.

And even though I’m not telling you who makes it, or if Mia decides to stay or go, I feel like the poor girl is dealt some properly brutal cards in life.

My Rating: 2.5/5

What does my blog love Jillian make of this tripe? Find out for yourselves here!