Christened In Blood, Bathed In Sin: Ruby (1977) Blu-ray Review + Screenshots

Ruby bleeds from gunshot wounds she got from a ghost

Ruby is a film that is clearly trying to be its own thing while aping off of other films in the process. While it doesn't steal from these other films, it does try to remind us of these other films whenever it can. The film works best when it is doing its own thing, but even then it does so in a somewhat confusing manner.








The very eerie Ruby title card


Ruby Original Trailer (2m 26s, HD)


2001 David Del Valle Interview with Curtis Harrington (59m 4s, Upscaled to 1080, 1.33:1)

I was interested in this interview because I like some of the director's work, but then David Del Valle makes his snarky presence known. Throughout this entire interview, which is more of a discussion than an interview, Del Valle makes it known that he loves Harrington’s work. This is not a problem as many interviewers love their interviewees, but Del Valle has a smugness that detracts from this interview. I wanted him to go away or shut up and let Harrington take the wheel. It also doesn’t help that Del Valle asks easy and common questions. None of the questions he asks are all that interesting and he seems to just want to do a career overview of Harrington’s work. That would be all well and good, but Harrington seems to want to talk more about his films, but Del Valle doesn’t want to get too deep, so there is this silent war going on between the two. You can kind of see it in Harrington’s face. I wanted to hear what Harrington had to say, but Del Valle wouldn’t allow too much, which results in a very boring interview

Sinister Image Episode Vol. 1 (28m 6s, Upscaled to 1080, 1.33:1)

This is a public access show that David Del Valle hosted from 1987 to 1989, where he would interview filmmakers. See my thoughts about the 2001 interview.

Sinister Image Episode Vol. 2 (29m, Upscaled to 1080, 1.33:1)

A continuation of the public access interview.

Commentary by David Del Valle and Nathaniel Bell

Commentary by Curtis Harrington and Piper Laurie

Here we have a very fun commentary track from Harrington and Laurie. They both seem to be having a lot of fun and that makes this track worthwhile. They talk about everything involving the film and Harrington even fans his disgust for the film's ending.

There are also some liner notes from Nathaniel Bell that are on the reverse side of the blu-ray cover art. See THE PACKAGING for details.













Like Satan's Cheerleaders, Ruby has some nice packaging. It isn't going to win any awards, but it gets the job done and looks nice on the shelf. The only thing that I don't like about the packaging is the disc art. Why can't the disc art feature different pictures? I know that it saves money, but it seems that it is more likely that people can be confused over which disc is which without really looking at them.

Nathaniel Bell writes up the film in a nice and professional way, giving us a mixture of review and trivia about the film.







Man hangs from tree after being killed


VCI has given us a 2K “restoration”, but I have to say that this can’t be true. The transfer doesn’t look all that great. The image is soft and flat, with very little in the way of detail. From what I can tell, the film never looked all that great, to begin with, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that this is a very substandard transfer. It would be nice to see what the film is supposed to look like, but if this is it then count me out. I have seen VCI do really great work (I think that their Gorgo blu-ray is really nice) and I have no doubt that they will do great work again, but Ruby just doesn’t look that great on blu-ray.






Girl walks in the middle of the street carrying a basket


At least there is some good news about this blu-ray in the form of its audio presentation. The track is nice, giving us great sounding dialogue that doesn’t sound warped or damaged in any way. In fact, the entire track is free of any damage.








WARNING! This review contains spoilers!! I also give away the ending to the 1976 version of Carrie.


Piper Laurie is decked out in her best cocktail dress


Sixteen years after Ruby Claire's gangster boyfriend was shot and killed by four associates, a series of gruesome murders take place at the drive-in movie theatre she now owns. Meanwhile, the behavior of her mute daughter Leslie is becoming increasingly strange and a visiting psychic claims that forces from beyond are out for revenge.

Ruby is a goofy film. Where else are you going to find a film where the girlfriend a murder victim hires the murderers to work at her drive-in? This threw me for a loop because it makes for some dumb decisions that the title character makes. I guess that she wants to be the better person, but you have to see these people from time to time (it appears that she doesn’t leave the hour very much.), so why put yourself through that?

The trailers make us believe that this is a film much like Carrie and The Exorcist, but outside of a few scenes (one that contains Ruby’s daughter doing a “spider walk” much like the one that was cut from The Exorcist.) and the presence of Piper Laurie, there really isn’t much to this film. This would explain why the film seems stretched out, with many scenes and characters going nowhere. Also, much of the film’s gore has been for unknown reasons.

There is also the ending to the film that needs to be discussed. I have put a warning at the beginning of this review and at the beginning of the section so there should be nobody who cries foul. The film ends with Laurie being reunited with her murdered boyfriend. This actually is a nice way to end the film. Boyfriend gets his revenge from beyond the grave and then meets up
with his girlfriend to spend eternity together. I found this ending to be beautiful and fitting for the rest of the story.

We see Laurie and her boyfriend walk off into the distance. Someone goes running after her, but they are stopped, with the stopper saying that “this is what she wanted”. Great! Nice ending to a film that was a bit confusing, but enjoyable to a fault. Then we hear a scream. That is Laurie screaming. Is the boyfriend killing her? Why would he do all of this to just to kill Laurie, which he could have done at any time during the course of the film? Well, we don’t really know what happens because the next shot we get after the scream is that of Laurie sinking underwater holding hands with a skeleton.

WWWWWHHHHHHHHAAAAAATTTTTTTT??????

What the hell just happened? Why is she in the water? Why is the boyfriend a skeleton? Why is she still holding hands with the skeleton? No explanation is given as to why this has happened. It is clear that the company that financed the film wanted a Carrie-style ending that would leave the audience in shock as they left the theater. They were shocked alright, but it wasn’t because the ending was so scary. It was because the ending MAKES NO SENSE!!

The reason that the ending to Carrie worked is that we don’t see it coming and it is a dream. That ending fits in with the tone of the film and worked because director Brian De Palma knew what he was doing. He made that scene, where Amy Irving is entering the yard where Carrie’s house once stood, to place flowers on the makeshift grave that has been made to “honor” Carrie, like a dream. There was a sense of sadness, but also of blissfulness. Carrie was now free of her tormentors. Then her hand rises from the grave and scares Irving’s character and everyone in the audience. That is one of the many reasons why audiences talked about the film when it came out and the film is still talked about today.

The ending to Ruby is a head-scratcher. The producers got their Carrie-style ending, but it comes at the cost of the film. No one really remembers anything from the film but they do remember that ending, not because of the shock value, but because of how crazy and dumb it is. I would normally say something like “The ending killed the film” which is true. But I stand before you today and say that the ending makes me want to watch the film again to see where it went wrong. There had to be a point where the filmmakers just said “Fuck it!” and did whatever they could to make the ending work. The problem lies in the fact that director Curtis Harrington had nothing to do with this ending. He hates it. Of course, this means that we will never see the film’s original ending since the footage is lost, but it makes you wonder what the original ending would have been.

All in all, Ruby is a decent horror film that doesn’t really have too much on the horror side. I did not find the film scary in the least, but I did find myself laughing. Not as much as a truly bad film, but enough to allow me to enjoy the film a little. Piper Laurie is really good in the film as is Janit Baldwin, who plays the daughter. The rest of the film is bland but never boring.



THE FILM6
THE PICTURE6.5
THE SOUND8
THE FEATURES7
THE PACKAGING7.5

Summary

Ruby is a decent film that is all but killed by its atrocious ending. The film moves at a pretty decent pace, and while there are a lot of things wrong with the film, I was kind of digging it. Then that ending comes along and anything that came before it becomes all but meaningless.

The blu-ray, from VCI Entertainment, is decent enough. The picture could use some work to bring it up to standards. The sound is good, so there's that. The features, on the other hand, are killed by the presence of David Del Valle, who is present in almost all of the special features. He brings almost nothing to the table that is worth anything and his presence is a hindence rather than a plus. The commentary track that he isn't on is the best special feature in the set. I can not recommend this blu-ray to anyone outside of fans of the film or those looking for something that is a bit different.
6.5
Overall Score





CHECK OUT PAGE 2 FOR MORE SCREENSHOTS!! SCREENSHOTS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!!!
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