Saturday, December 13, 2014
Curtis Harrington is a pretty interesting director. He specializes in horror films involving middle aged women, rather than young co-eds or anything of that like, and his films tended to have very distinct themes and creepy atmospheres. I couldn't tell you much more than that, as to this day, I've yet to see any of his films (even the awesomely titled Who Slew Auntie Roo?), aside from his 1977 outing Ruby...
Ruby Claire was a big-time celebrity and singer in the 1930's, but her nasty habit of hanging around gangsters backfires on her badly when her mob boss friend Jake killed her lover Nicky in a jealous rage. Years later, the washed-up Ruby runs a drive-in, employing all her old 'comrades-in-arms' from her criminal days. One night, they start getting mysteriously and violently killed, and Ruby soon becomes convinced that Nicky's spirit is back. She's correct, and Nicky is under the impression that Ruby set him up to be killed. He makes short work of the guys, and soon possesses his and Ruby's mute daughter Emily to personally take revenge on his ex-lover...
Ruby is a pretty good horror film. The plot is decently written, and had very neat pacing! It's never boring, and never shows off too much or too little at a time. Ruby's overall atmosphere is nice and ooky, and there are some great setpieces. One scene, however, is a total Exorcist ripoff!
There is a pretty big problem I had with the plot though. It's unclear whether or not Ruby's 'boys' are the ones who shot Nicky. If they are, why is Ruby ok with them?
Aside from that annoying bit of confusion, the plot is otherwise fine, and the ending is nicely fitting!...Until the last ten seconds, anyway! The 'shock' moment completely botches the whole point of the ending! From what I can gather, this crammed-in studio edit abrupt 'shocker' pissed Curtis Harrington off something fierce!
Another issue I have with Ruby's ending is that I wish we would've had a bit of conclusion for Emily. At least it didn't end depressingly for her.
The acting in Ruby is all decent. Piper Laurie is great as Ruby Claire! The character may be pretty unlikeable, but Laurie's fantastically over-the-top, and unhinged comes the end!
Janit Baldwin is great as Emily, but unfortunately underused. Without saying a word, she relies entirely on her physical expressions and actions, and she succeeds very well! And then there's when 'she' talks! She can look scared, look diabolical, and she's also absolutely adorable! Look at her!
The effects in Ruby are good, especially the 'ghostly hurricane', and the death scenes are very stylish and well-put together!...Except for one, where it looks like the guy's getting the crap beaten out of him by the film's edits!
The scoring is atmospheric and effective, and complement the movie so well!
Ruby is a nifty horror film, and for the vast majority of its runtime, I enjoyed it greatly! I recommend it, but make sure to pause the ending and switch the movie off in the last ten seconds, so you can get the ending's true effect, and not get pissed off...