HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Eve of Destruction
Mad Death, The
Lost in Vagueness
Sleeping Beauty
Allure
In Search of Dracula
Fantastic Woman, A
Emmanuelle II
Far from Vietnam
Inherit the Wind
Post, The
King Frat
Commuter, The
Mister Buddwing
Kiki's Delivery Service
Z-O-M-B-I-E-S
Mansfield 66/67
Old Enough
Bleeding Steel
Double Hour, The
My Generation
Geostorm
Pendulum
Certain Magical Index: The Movie - The Miracle of Endymion, A
That Good Night
Psychopath, The
My Beloved Bodyguard
.44 Specialist, The
Square, The
Boys, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Boris Goes Bonkers, Bela Goes Bats: The Old Dark House and Mark of the Vampire
Charles Bronson's Mid-70s: Breakheart Pass and Others
Kids in America: The Breakfast Club vs Metropolitan
80s Dance-Off: Staying Alive vs Murder-Rock vs Breakin'
The Cinematic Darkside of Donald Crowhurst
Dutch Courage: The Flodder Series
Coming of Age: Boys on Film 18 - Heroes on DVD
Country and Irish - The secret history of Irish pop culture
Wash All This Scum Off the Streets: Vigilante Movies
Force the Issue: Star Wars' Tricky Middle Prequels and Sequels
Rediscovered: The Avengers - Tunnel of Fear on DVD
Sword Play: An Actor's Revenge vs Your Average Zatoichi Movie
Super Sleuths: The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes on DVD
Stop That, It's Silly: The Ends of Monty Python
They're All Messed Up: Night of the Living Dead vs Land of the Dead
   
 
  Ruby Death at the Drive-InBuy this film here.
Year: 1977
Director: Curtis Harrington
Stars: Piper Laurie, Stuart Whitman, Roger Davis, Janit Baldwin, Sal Vecchio, Paul Kent, Len Lesser, Crystin Sinclaire, Jack Perkins, Eddie Donno, Fred Kohler Jr, Rory Stevens
Genre: Horror
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Back in 1935, gangster’s moll Ruby Claire (Piper Laurie) saw her boyfriend Nicky Rocco (Sal Vecchio) shot dead by four criminal associates. Sixteen years later, these men are employees at the drive-in movie theatre Ruby now runs alongside her faithful companion Vince (Stuart Whitman). A series of freakishly gruesome murders claims the lives of the aging gangsters while Ruby’s mute daughter, Leslie (Janit Baldwin) begins behaving in an increasingly strange manner.

Hastily assembled, in what was likely an attempt to cash-in on star Piper Laurie’s Oscar nominated turn as the bible-thumping psycho-mama in Carrie (1976), Ruby also dovetails with the Seventies’ nostalgia for Fifties pop culture and director Curtis Harrington’s track record with “crazy old biddy” movies. Harrington always had a fine feel for period detail and a knack for delving beneath the veil of nostalgia to explore the seamier side of the past, as evidenced in chillers like What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971) and Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (1971). Of course sticklers for period detail will note, while the film is set in 1951, Ruby’s drive-in screens Attack of the 50ft Woman - which was released several years later.

This casual gaffe is endemic of the film's infuriatingly haphazard nature wherein every character seems to exist in their own movie and none have any impact upon the seemingly predetermined thrust of the narrative. That includes parapsychologist Dr. Paul Keller (Roger Davis), who initially serves as our narrator before this device is abruptly dropped. Vince brings Keller to try and get to the bottom of these supernatural events, but while marked as the hero, the good doctor largely hovers ineffectually spouting a whole lot of metaphysical hooey. Equally puzzling is why so much screen-time is given to the town floozy (Crystin Sinclaire) whose activities have nothing to do with the plot at all. While leading players Piper Laurie and Stuart Whitman bring a degree of pathos to their roles, the supporting cast pitch their performances at an intrusively broad level.

“Blood and guts, that’s what people seem to want nowadays”, says Ruby upon observing a horror movie has been packing them in at the drive-in. Harrington seems to share that lament, being more interested in exploring her inner torment, something that echoes his other works where characters are haunted by their past and psychological traumas are made physical through violence. Ruby is tortured by the thought Nicky died believing she betrayed him. She remains insanely possessive of his memory, to the point where she denies Leslie any knowledge of her father. However, the film's producers called on Harrington to deliver muddled, nonsensical riffs on scenes from Carrie and The Exorcist (1973). He does so with clear disinterest, falling back on crass humour (a victim stashed in a soft drinks machine from which a fat lady gulps a big glug of blood) to compensate for the slack pacing and inconsistent set-pieces. There are a handful of effectively eerie moments (as when Leslie morphs into a bullet-ridden corpse speaking with Nicky’s voice) with one or two ghostly attacks that are stylishly done (e.g. victims whipped by supernatural gales or impaled on the cinema screen), but these only compound the film's curiously aimless, meandering tone. Harrington was reported to have clashed with co-producer Steve Krantz, who later mounted a more blatant Carrie cash-in called Jennifer (1978). Krantz replaced Harrington’s original “romantic” ending with a more overtly horrific finale, supposedly shot by Stephanie Rothman, former Roger Corman protege, noted feminist and director of The Velvet Vampire (1971), after Harrington and Piper Laurie both refused to take part. Strangely, this revised and frankly slapdash ending earned the film what little notoriety it has and remains fondly regarded by fans to this da, even though it shatters the delicate mood and overall intention of the melancholic story.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1508 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Curtis Harrington  (1928 - 2007)

American cult director who graduated from experimental films (he was an associate of Kenneth Anger) to working as an assistant on Hollywood films like Peyton Place and The Long Hot Summer. He made several distinctive B-movies during the 60s and 70s, before turning his hand to mainstream American TV. His most notable films were Night Tide, starring a young Dennis Hopper, Queen of Blood, Games, the twisted thrillers Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? and What's the Matter with Helen?, and possession horror Ruby.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Jamie Nichols
Andrew Pragasam
George White
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
Enoch Sneed
  Mark Scampion
   

 

Last Updated: