ruby
Dimension Pictures
1977
R

  • A woman with a shady past, Ruby Claire is the single mother of Leslie, a teenager who is deaf and mute. Ruby operates a drive-in movie theater and employs a number of ex-criminals, some of who start to die in bizarre ways. Eventually, Ruby discovers that the spirit of her dead mobster husband has possessed Leslie and is seeking revenge through the tormented girl. As Leslie picks off her dad’s former associate, she also begins to target Ruby herself.

If you take a Tennessee Williams play, and slather it with a generous dose of supernatural haunted shenanigans, then you pretty much have the recipe for the 1977 Southern Gothic low-budget exploitation horror flick Ruby.

It always fascinates me, whenever I come across a movie that was released the same year as the original Star Wars was, and it looks like it was made at least a decade prior. Even though Ruby is obviously not a Sci-Fi Fantasy film. I’m talking quality of production, here. Yeah, Star Wars has now become my standard to which I judge movies that were made in the year 1977. I have just become “that guy”. Whatever that means.

Anyway, we begin this flick in a kind of flashback, where a mobster is executed in a backwoods swamp in the 1930s, witnessed by his pregnant mobster girlfriend, and with his dying breath he proclaims a CURSE! while she goes into labor. Flash forward sixteen years later, and that former girlfriend–the titular Ruby–is now the proprietor of a kind-of out-of-the-way backwoods drive-in theater near her home that shows an endless stream of old b-movies, and where she employs ex-mobsters to work the joint. How nice of her. Her daughter, Leslie, has just turned 16, and has been mute since the day she was born. Ominous. Anyway, she is gifted a necklace for said birthday, and that’s about the time when weird poltergeist-y things started happening around the drive-in and the house, resulting in a massive employment turn-around due to a sudden case of not living anymore. Also, Leslie seems to be acting strange…and also talking! With the voice of her dead mobster boyfriend, so that’s not good. Is Leslie possessed by the ghost of a vengeful mobster? Or is there something else going on? Wackiness ensues…

Ruby is one of those mid-70s type of low-budget horror movies that, despite all of its flaws and obvious cheapness and unintentional hilarity, is actually pretty fun to watch. The movie is dripping with old school Gothic atmosphere, and the story has a nice Turn of the Screw by way of William Faulkner. Mileage will vary as far as enjoyment goes; personally, I thought it was fine once I got past the obvious flaws. Nothing I’m going to be rewatching any time in the future, but not a bad way to burn some time.