Happy Mother’s Day everyone! Here’s our top 5 Stephen King moms for good or bad.
NUMBER FIVE – DONNA TRENTON
Starting this list will be the 1983 adaptation of Cujo. The film is considered a classic by many including Dee Wallace. Dee plays Donna Trenton the protagonist of the story. Now I'm actually not a huge fan of Cujo personally, I re-watched it to write this and found it showed its age and could maybe use a retelling. There is supposed to be some form of a remake being made and whether you think that is a good thing or not I did want to give Dees response when asked about it. “Look, I’ll just leave it at this. If they think they can do half the job that we did with Cujo and the dogs, real dogs and the kid who was amazing…. yeah, go ahead. Make an asshole out of yourself, go ahead! Give it a shot.”
Just because Cujo isn't my favorite Stephen King film doesn’t mean that Donna Trenton isn't a solid character that deserves praise. Donna is a wife and mother just trying to make sense of herself and what she wants. The best part about this movie is that Donna isn't portrayed as a very likable person. The first half of the movie is her cheating on her husband and complaining, and the second half she is trapped in a car with her son being attacked by a rabid dog. Now, why do I like this? It's because it seems real, Donna doesn’t get a redemption arc, she never becomes the hero. She’s just a person that might soon die, not because of some malevolent force or her being the chosen hero of the film. It's because her husband didn’t fix the car like he was supposed to.
Of course, it is a mainstream movie though. So, Donna and her son Tad do escape. Donna gets lucky when Cujo kills himself. In the original story by King, Tad dies while Donna fights off Cujo. The team decided to change the ending so it wouldn't be off-putting to potential audiences. With all of the dark and gritty reboots they are making now hopefully we can see this movie be made soon.
Favorite quote, "Fine I’ll get your daddy!"
NUMBER FOUR – RACHEL CREED
My favorite adaptation of Stephen Kings' work, Pet Sematary is a heart wrenching exploration of the lengths we will go to for the people we love. Morality and reasoning can be tossed aside when confronting the death of a child. Denise Crosby does an excellent job of playing Rachel, a smart strong woman of the '90s. There are two scenes in Pet Sematary that I have to hold back tears every time I watch. Etched into my mind forever is the agony in Rachel's voice crying out to her mother at her son’s funeral while her husband and father fight next to her sons knocked over casket. Denise shines as well in the scene where she explains the death of her sister, Zelda. You can feel the guilt and anxiety pouring out in every word.
Now Rachel does have her flaws. As a child, she experienced massive emotional trauma from watching her sister die in a slow and painful way. The impact of her sister’s death and the resulting guilt of the incident impacts the way she raises her children. Rachel doesn’t want to discuss or explain death to her children, she attempts to shield them from it. When the family cat Church is about to have surgery performed she has her husband Louis tell Ellie that no harm will come to Church, even though she is aware that any surgery has inherent risk.
As we watch the movie and look at Rachels character we can see that she is a loving wife and mother. She just wants to keep her family safe as all of us do. What really makes her character shine throughout the film is that she keeps enduring tragedy throughout her life and although she is clearly on the edge of breaking she pushes on to take care of her family.
Favorite quote, "And they thought I was crying. But you know something? I think maybe... I was laughing."
NUMBER THREE – WENDY TORRANCE
My number three pick has to be Wendy Torrance from the 1980 version of The Shining. Now I know this isn't the most accurate or even the best version of Wendy, but I really love Shelley Duval in this role. Shelley plays a timid and almost mouse-like version of Wendy. This is the polar opposite of King’s vision but it works very well for this movie. Kubrick took it upon himself to torment Shelley to get just the right feel for the film, going as far as making her do the same take 127 times.
In my opinion that dedication paid off. We get an amazing portrayal of a scared and confused wife watching her husband’s decent into madness. The most intense moments in the movie were because of Wendy, she made you feel her pain and empathize with her. I didn’t care about the twins or the elevator of blood, the scariest thing in the movie was watching poor Wendy try and protect herself and her son while knowing she couldn’t outmatch her husband in strength or intellect.
Let us look at the scene when she fights Jack on the stairway. She brings a bat for protection but clearly doesn’t understand how to use it. As she harmlessly swings the bat you feel real pity for her. She doesn’t want to hurt her husband, she just wants to go back to her room and watch tv with her son. Ultimately, she does have to deal with Jack but not in some sort of revenge setting, it is just self-preservation. And in the end, she doesn’t attempt to kill her husband, just outrun him. Personally, I think it’s a shame Shelley Duval didn’t get more recognition for what a great job she did in this film.
Favorite quote, “I'm gonna try and get Danny down to Sidewinder in the Snow Cat. I'll send back a doctor...”
NUMBER TWO – MARGARET WHITE
Coming in at number 2 is Margaret White who is played by Piper Laurie. Piper is just amazing in this classic retelling of Stephen kings Carrie. In this role, she is so over the top that her acting is both frightening and hilarious. Piper brings the whole package of a sexually repressed religious fanatic to life so well.
In the film, Margaret is the mother of a high school girl with psychic powers. This girls name is Carrie and she just wants to be like all of the other kids at her school. Unfortunately for her Margaret is not going to let this happen as she is so delusional that she believes that a period is a curse sent from God because of their sins. When Margaret finds out about Carrie’s powers she accuses her of being a witch and begins hatching a plan to kill her daughter.
Now one thing that Margaret is correct about is her famous line, "they are all going to laugh at you". The high school does indeed laugh at Carrie, and she in turn murders an entire school because of some spilled pigs blood. Carrie returns home from her murder spree hoping to find solace in her mother. Then in the worst idea in the history of murder, her mother tries to stab her. The women actually brought a knife to a psychic fight. Although this isn't the best plotline ever for a horror movie I think that Piper is an amazing actress and I will always remember her performance in this role.
Favorite quote, "I can see your dirty pillows."
NUMBER ONE – DEBORAH HARTSFIELD
Now that we're done discussing the four runner ups, its time to tell you my number one. Immediately upon meeting Deborah Hartsfield’s character in Mr. Mercedes, I knew she'd be the landslide winner. Deborah is the mother of Brady Hartsfield, the serial killer of King’s latest TV show. She is played by a marvelous actress, Kelly Lynch, whose performance in this show is overwhelming.
Deborah is a burning waste dump of a person who no one real or fictional feels pity for. The scene that introduces us to this walking AA advertisement is her trying to force her son to sleep with her. Now, this is enough to dislike a character, but does Deborah stop there? Well of course not. We get 10 great episodes of her drunkenly stumbling through the plot, with the occasional stop to give her son an unwanted hand job. Deborah is a completely broken person when we meet her, and that doesn't change by the time she leaves us. I loved this character and her actress Kelly.
Kelly does such a great job in this role. You both want her to die and for her to stick around so you can watch her get kicked while she is down more. Unfortunately, our time with Deborah is cut short as she eats some obviously poisoned meat. The woman knows it tastes tainted and keeps eating. In my opinion, if you can't tell there is a large amount of rat poison in your hamburger you get what's coming to you. If you never watch the show I would at least watch Deborah's last scene. Her painfully trying to scream while having lockjaw is brilliant.
Favorite quote, "Gurgle."
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