‘A love affair with the supernatural’
Ruby is a 1977 American supernatural horror film directed by Curtis Harrington (Night Tide, Queen of Blood, What’s the Matter with Helen? Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? The Killing Kind). The movie stars Piper Laurie (Carrie), Stuart Whitman (Demonoid; The Monster Club; Guyana: Crime of the Century; et al) and Roger Davis.
In 1935, a lowlife mobster, Nikki Rocco, is betrayed and executed in the swampy backwoods as his pregnant gun-moll, Ruby Claire watches. He swears vengeance with his dying breath, and then she suddenly goes into labour.
Sixteen years later, in 1951, Ruby is now running a drive-in movie theatre in the backwoods near her home and employs some ex-mobsters. Her sixteen-year-old daughter, Leslie Claire, is mute and has been since birth.
Soon strange and bizarre accidents claim the lives of Ruby’s employees, then Leslie begins to show strange behaviour, and then begins to speak… in her dead father’s voice. Nikki Rocco possesses his daughter’s body and terrorises Ruby with levitations, telekinesis, maniacal laughing and bizarre libidinous aggression…
Ruby was long available on video in the US only in a butchered version that was re-edited (and apparently re-shot by director Stephanie Rothman of The Velvet Vampire) for television, deleting the R-rated violence and adding new dialogue scenes.
Prior to the release of John Carpenter’s Halloween, Ruby was one of the top-grossing independent horror films.
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“Mr. Harrington delivers the scares. He is a filmmaker from the Hitchcock school in that he uses suspense rather than shocks to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. This is not to say the film doesn’t have several well placed shocks, it does! This is an excellent movie.” Rusty White’s Film World
” …bodies tossed about and impaled on trees; Stuart Whitman being pursued by supernatural winds; that wonderfully EC Comics-esque moment where a severed head is found attached to the interior of a Coke vending machine; and the genuine surprise moment when Janit Baldwin (an almost neglected actress who gives an eerily spooky performance) is revealed as possessed – that lifts Ruby well above most Exorcist copycats.” Moria
“Cheaply made but fairly well-acted, Ruby is well-paced and features a few decent murder set-pieces but borrow a lot from The Exorcist in spots. The film fails to convince us of its fifties setting (everyone looks very much like a product of the seventies here) but it’s entertaining enough, the way a fun B-grade horror movie can be.” Rock! Shock! Pop!
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On September 12, 2017, Ruby was issued as a Blu-ray + DVD combo by VCI Entertainment.
- 2K film transfer and restoration of the original theatrical version
- 2001 David Del Valle Video Interview with director Curtis Harrington
- Commentary Track by director Curtis Harrington and actress Piper Laurie
- Sinister Image Episode – David Del Valle Interviews Curtis Harrington- Volume 1
- Sinister Image Episode – David Del Valle Interviews Curtis Harrington- Volume 2
- 2017 Commentary Track with David Del Valle and ‘Curtis Harrington’ expert – Nathaniel Bell
- Liner Notes by Nathaniel Bell
- Original Theatrical Trailer – Restored HD
- Includes a Bonus DVD
Cast and characters:
Piper Laurie … Ruby Claire
Stuart Whitman … Vince Kemper
Roger Davis … Doctor Paul Keller
Janit Baldwin … Leslie Claire
Crystin Sinclaire … Lila June
Paul Kent … Louie
Len Lesser … Barney
Jack Perkins … Avery
Eddy Donno … Jess (as Edward Donno)
Sal Vecchio … Nicky Rocco
Fred Kohler Jr. … Jake Miller (as Fred Kohler)
Rory Stevens … Donny
Raymond Kark … First Man
Jan Burrell … First Woman
Kip Gillespie … Herbie
Tamar Cooper … Woman ‘A’
Patricia Allison … Pick-up Man’s Wife
Stu Olson … Man ‘A’
Mary Margaret Robinson … Mae Belle (as Mary Robinson)
Michael Alldredge … Sheriff’s Wife’s Date
Allison Hayes … The Fifty-Foot Woman (archive footage)
Roy Gordon … Doctor Isaac Cushing (footage from ‘Attack of the 50 Foot Woman’)
Los Angeles, California
85 minutes | 96 minutes (TV version)
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1
Audio: Mono (Glen Glenn Sound)
For the film’s 1979 debut on CBS, some gruesome shots were removed and additional scenes were shot to pad out the film’s running time, reportedly by writer/director Stephanie Rothman (The Velvet Vampire; Blood Bath). Roger Davis, Crystin Sinclaire and other bit players returned to flesh out their roles, and several new cast members were added uncredited. Director Curtis Harrington was so disgusted that he requested his name be removed from this cut, which is credited to Hollywood’s favourite pseudonym, Alan Smithee.
The original R-rated cut features gore and credits Curtis Harrington as the director. This is the only version available on DVD.
All American home video editions prior to the 2001 VCI release are of the altered TV version.
Scenes added to the TV version:
- Deputy Len tells Sheriff Rich that he was investigating a report of a hanging and spotted Mae Belle, the sheriff’s wife, with another man.
- Rich questions Mae Belle about her whereabouts the previous night.
- Kenny asks Barney about the old days at the drive-in.
- Lila June talks on the phone and defends her actions to her mother.
- The sheriff comes to the drive-in and question Barney.
- Doctor Keller goes searching for an answer to what happened on the night Nicky died. He visits newspaper editor George Whitehouse, the sheriff, and an unseen third man who greets him with gunfire.