Sixteen years after Ruby Claire's gangster boyfriend was shot and killed by four associates, a series of gruesome murders takes place at the drive-in movie theatre she now owns. Meanwhile, ...
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Sixteen years after Ruby Claire's gangster boyfriend was shot and killed by four associates, a series of gruesome murders takes place at the drive-in movie theatre she now owns. Meanwhile, the behaviour of her mute daughter Leslie is becoming increasingly strange and a visiting psychic claims that forces from beyond are out for revenge.Written by
Ross Horsley <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Despite its reception, which seems to have been quite negative from what I have read, Ruby made an absolutely huge profit at the box office. Made for $600,000 it went on to rake in $16million. That's serious commercial success for sure. But it appears to have been one of those movies which made big waves on initial release but then kind of fell off the radar immediately afterwards. In 1935 a man is gunned down by his fellow gangsters. Sixteen years later his wife, now the mother to a disturbing mute girl, runs a drive-in theatre that specialises in horror movies. She employs all the men responsible for the earlier murder and soon they all start winding up dead, victims of a mysterious supernatural entity. It soon transpires that the young daughter is possessed by her dead father's spirit and he's out for some serious pay-back.
This one was directed by Curtis Harrington who was responsible for the subtle off-kilter chiller Night Tide (1961) which featured a young Dennis Hopper in an unusually restrained role. Ruby is a decidedly more standard horror offering combining elements of a trio of big-hitting horror hits of the day including Carrie (1976) with Piper Laurie as a demented mother, The Exorcist (1973) with the spider-walking possessed young girl and The Omen (1976) with its series of elaborate death scenes - victims are impaled high up on cinema screens, choked to death on film reels, hung from trees and left bloodied in...a Coke machine. It's a combination that basically works though, with enough incidents occurring to ensure it's never a boring watch. I think its possession movie element is the one that works best though, with Janit Baldwin perfectly cast in the role of the demented daughter. With her saucer eyes and creepy smile she is genuinely unsettling and the scenes with her possessed by her father are actually kind of scary. Perhaps if the various death scenes had been executed with a little more verve and detail, the film would be better but the weird killings still do add a further macabre detail to the overall whole never-the-less. The drive-in setting is actually a pretty good one and gives the film a bit of distinct character and I did enjoy the interspersing of the featured film Attack of the 50 Foot Woman into things even if it was a movie released seven years after events depicted on screen were supposed to be happening - ah, the trifling details film-makers could so easily get away with in the days before the internet! Anyway, events do dovetail to an ending which was a little odd. I don't think the general idea of it was especially bad – quite decent in actual fact – but it was just far, far too abrupt. All-in-all though, this forgotten box-office smash is actually well worth seeking out if you like 70's horror movies, it's a little ropey in places for sure but it does have a bit of atmosphere, originality and legitimately scary moments.
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