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|“||One sound down here and I promise I'll kill the both of you. Not just punish you, kill you. Dead.||„|
|~ Ruth Chandler|
|“||You've probably got the clap now, but never mind. They've got cures these days.||„|
|~ Ruth Chandler|
Rutherine "Ruth" Chandler is the main antagonist of the novel and film adaptation of The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum. It is based on the real-life murder case involving a 16-year-old Indiana girl and her caretaker, Gertrude Baniszewski.
She was portrayed by Blanche Baker.
The Girl Next Door
The film begins with David Moran reflecting on his past after he witnessed a hit and run in 2007. The film then goes back to the year 1958, and it is there that he met two young girls named Megan and Susan Loughlin. Their parents were killed in a car accident, and they were sent to live with the Chandlers as a result. Their guardian was named Rutherine Chandler and she would routinely dish out punishments on the two defenseless girls. Her favorite victim, however, was Meg. She would constantly loose her temper with her, accuse her of being a whore and she would purposefully starve her. When she tried to tell a police officer about everything that her aunt had done to her, Ruth punishes her by binding her to a cellar in the basement. She would also appoint her own children and even most of the neighborhood children into torturing her niece. She would even allow them to have their way with her, with Willie being the sole exception.
Susan herself didn't fare any better. Whenever Meg didn't comply to Ruth, she would punish her for her sister's perceived disobedience. The children of the neighborhood also consider her as nothing but a plaything. They would cut her, beat her, and burn her with the butts of their cigarettes. David then decides that enough was enough, and attempted to free the two sisters from their bondage.
David returns to the house later on, and he discovers, to his horror, that Meg was being raped by her cousin, Willie. Ruth then tries to convince David to take his turn with the helpless young woman, and when he refused, Ruth carved "I FUCK, FUCK ME" on Meg's stomach. Ruth's assistants later tied David up, and the evil old woman proceeded to mutilate the young woman with a blowtorch.
David manages to untie himself the next day, and he soon finds Susan tending to her sister, who was unconscious at the time. She then stated that Meg had tried to take her with her in an effort to escape from the house, but Ruth caught them before they could make it out the door. She then says that Ruth had been touching her to the extent of making her bleed, and this caused Meg to not want to leave. David then tells her that everything would be alright.
Fearing that Meg might not last any longer, David set the cellar on fire. When Ruth arrived to the cellar, he proceeded to violently bludgeon her to death with Susan's crutch while her sons were arrested. He then retrieved her (Meg's) Mother's ring, and took it to the dying Meg. Meg accepted the ring and finally succumbed to her wounds.
The film then ends by going back to the present, and David remembering Meg's words.
Differences Between the Book and the FilmAs with most film adaptations of books, several scenes from the original book were changed due to its explicit scenes. The scene in which Meg's vagina was mutilated with the tire iron was only suggested in the film whereas in the novel, it was described in full detail. The way in which Ruth meets her end is also different in both versions. In the film adaptation, David beats her to death by using one of Susan's crutches, while in the novel, he pushes her off the stairs, causing her neck to snap as a result. The film is actually considered tame compared to the original book. In the novel, she is said to be 37 years old. In the film adaptation, she appears to be in her mid to late-fifties, thus putting emphasis that her appearance mirrors her actions.
Despite her death, Ruth left a disturbing legacy that greatly affected the surviving characters. David still was pained from his failure to save Meg all those years ago, whereas Susan is still scarred from Ruth's abuse. Meanwhile, Woofer was arrested alongside an unidentified juvenile for the gruesome murders of two teenage girls. David notes that he resembled his mother in some ways. This was only mentioned in the novel.
|“||I tell you. A woman's nothing but a slut and an animal. You got to see that, you got to remember. Just used and screwed and punished. Nothing but a stupid loser slut with a hole in her and that's all she'll ever be.||„|
|~ Ruth during one of her "sessions" with Meg.|
Ruth is (quite simply) a very disturbing and rebarbative individual. In the novel that the film was based on, Ruth appeared as being a single mother who was a severe and condemnatory alcoholic, in lower middle-class, and was easy to anger. She is also noted for being mentally unstable and only became an all-out sociopath throwing away her humanity and sanity once she took Meg and Susan under her care. Ruth was also extremely misogynistic and believed that all women were whores who deserved to be treated like animals [never mind the fact that she herself was a woman] and men were stupid and that they only knew how to work and then abandon women when they were needed the most. She saw women as being cursed, and that the only way to "purify" them was by taking out their desire (i. e. removing their clitoris). She still expressed that belief even when she was in the process of being tried for Meg's death, by stating that she "did a good thing for her." During one of her "sessions" with Meg, she explained that she learned that women were garbage from watching her father beat her mother. The book states that she and her husband had an uneasy relationship.
While the film adaptation doesn't seem to give Ruth any clear motivations for her actions, it is heavily implied that part of the reason for her hatred towards Meg was that she was envious of her youth and her innocence, as she (Ruth) was old and ugly. This drove her to not only destroy Meg's body, but she also tried to destroy her very innocence.
Ruth also didn't seem to care for her own sons and it was unknown if she abused them as well, yet was shown to be very negligent of them. She in fact despises them, as they remind her of her ex-husband, and she even cites children as being something akin to a parasite that takes away a woman's happiness. David even points out that, given the chance, she most certainly would have not only killed the two girls, but she would also betray and kill her own sons, and not give the slightest hint of remorse. Aside from her lack of familial love, she also showed no concern for the other neighborhood adolescents.
|“||I said she was a slut! She wrote those words!! She did! "I F**K. F**K ME." And she did, she f**ked everybody. She f**ked him, that's for sure. And him too. She f**ked them all!! She'd have f**ked little Ralphie if I hadn't stopped her, hadn't tied her up down here where nobody had to see her legs and her ass, and her c*nt, because, mister, that's all she was a cunt, woman who don't know any better than to give in to a woman anytime he asks her for a piece of pussy. And I did her a goddamn favor. So f**k you and what you think. Goddamn meat in a uniform. Big soldier. Big $hit. F**k you! I did her a goddamn favor.....||„|
|~ Ruth explaining her motivations to Officer Jennings, also her last words before David kills her. (novel only)|
|“||Lady, I think you should shut up now. You understand my meaning, lady? Mrs. Chandler? Please, I really hope you do. That piss trap you call a mouth-you keep it shut.||„|
|~ Jennings, not believing Ruth's confession. (novel only)|
- Andrew Perkins (father, deceased)
- Barbara Bryan Perkins (mother, deceased)
- William James Chandler (ex-husband)
- William James "Willie" Chandler, Jr. (son)
- Donald "Donny" Chandler (son)
- Ralph "Ralphie" Chandler (son)
- This was one of the few times in which Blanche Baker portrayed a villainous character.