Dirty Weekend (novel)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Dirty Weekend is the name of a 1991 novel by Helen Zahavi and a film (1993) directed by Michael Winner based on it with (screenplay by Zahavi and Winner).

Dirty Weekend - the novel and film

Rather than about the traditional "dirty weekend", Zahavi's novel is about female revenge carried to extremes. "The serial-killer novel to end all serial-killer novels" (Ian Ousby), Dirty Weekend is set in contemporary Brighton, England, and follows a young woman on a three-day killing spree. Bella, a woman in her twenties, takes random revenge on men for what they have been doing to women in general and her in particular. In the course of a weekend Bella kills seven men by slaying, suffocating, running over, shooting, and stabbing them. In the end she gets away with it all and prepares to move to the big, anonymous city of London.

In the novel the old picaresque tradition is revived: There is one central character, Bella, the picara, who is the only link to all the other characters. It is she who meets and confronts one man after the other, kills him, and moves on to the next.

Plot summary

Bella, a solitary young woman with a dubious past, has just arrived in Brighton. Having recently been dumped by her boyfriend, all she wants is some peace and quiet in her newly rented small flat near Brunswick Square. Tim, a young man living in one of the houses across her backyard, takes a fancy to the new arrival and soon starts watching and eventually molesting her. He accosts her in the park and rings her up day and night, explaining to Bella his deviant sexual fantasies which revolve around her person.

The police are not really helpful, but Bella is scared. On a stroll through the Lanes, she sees a sign advertising sessions with a clairvoyant and, on the spur of the moment, she visits him. Her meeting with Nimrod serves as both an eye-opener and a catalyst. When Bella leaves Nimrod that Friday afternoon, her self-confidence has been restored, her mind is set, and she is ready for action: She has just "had enough".

A few hours later Tim makes his last dirty phone call to Bella. At night she enters his flat through a window and batters the sleeping man's head with a hammer. On Saturday morning she goes to a gunshop, but all they are prepared to sell her is an airgun. When she leaves the shop she is followed by "Mr Brown", who does sell her an illegal weapon. On Saturday night, dressed to kill, she enters the lobby of one of the large seafront hotels and only has to wait for a few minutes until she is chatted up. Her unsuspecting victim is Norman, a clinical psychologist with a weight problem. Norman, who is attending a congress in Brighton, can easily persuade her to join him upstairs in his hotel room. Once there, he cannot get an erection and asks Bella if he can be her slave. Bella takes the opportunity and, while Norman is bound and gagged, puts a plastic bag over his head.

On Sunday morning she finds a dentist who is willing to treat her for her toothache. After he has fixed her tooth, the dentist offers to give her a lift home. Instead, he drives into an empty multi-storey car park and forces Bella to perform oral sex on him ("open wide"). As a result, Bella kills him with his own Mercedes. She steals the car and soon afterwards comes to the rescue of an old tramp called Liverpool Mary who is biding her time in a cul-de-sac near Brighton station. She shoots three yuppie-style young men who, drunk and angry, are threatening to set fire to the bag lady.

On the same night, at 4 a.m., while walking along the beach near the deserted West Pier, she realizes that she is being watched. The serial killer on the loose who is watching her thinks he has found his next victim, but when he attacks Bella she stabs him with a flick-knife.

The novel has been praised by Andrea Dworkin as "good" and "true".

See Simon Brett's novel A Shock to the System (1984) for a story with a similar subject matter.


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Dirty Weekend (novel)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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