FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Jun 25, 2013

Don't Take Your Booze-Addled Tantrums to Town

While I admit that I am no Murder, She Wrote, I like to think that my deducing skills are somewhat substantial. The swirly thing on the stovetop turns orange, I deduce that it's hot. I eat a berry and begin to die, my penultimate thought is "That girl is poison!" (my last thought would be "Am I really to shuffle off this mortal coil with a Bell Biv Davoe song stuck in my head?") because deduction. And so, I see this poster for Ruby (1977) and I immediately set about to deducerizin'.

The title: clearly a Carrie rip-off a la Jennifer.
The Piper Laurie: clearly a Carrie rip-off a la the episode of Matlock that Piper Laurie was in LOL just kidding but can you imagine an episode of Matlock that rips off Carrie, come on that would be one of the reasons life is worth living.

Okay, so I somehow deduced from the totally not obvious clues that Ruby is going to somehow rip-off Carrie. But! don't go thinking that the girl who takes up 2/3 of the page is Ruby, oh no. Read the fine print and school yoself- Piper Laurie is Ruby. And I dunno, there's definitely a Rosemary's Baby kind of thing alluded to, like maybe Ruby is all evil and has sexytimes with Satan or something and then this girl is born and sixteen years later the girl goes all telekinetic and there's, you know, death and whatever.

Anyway, that's all what I deduced from the poster. Not gonna lie, I was totally excited to watch this...not only because of the perfectly perfect movie I was imagining in my head, but because of such Amazon user endorsements as
Knowone remebers the good movies! but, I still remember " Ruby " That's a great movie.
Ruby and I, we were gonna be friends, see. Friends. I could picture it clearly: Ruby and I running hand-in-hand through fields of gold, laughing and singing the theme from Family Ties together. I imagined in every future conversation I'd ever have I would blurt out "Holy fucking shit, have you ever seen Ruby?" because it would need to be seen. I'd become a Jehorror Witness, clutching a DVD whilst knocking on every door in every neighborhood to ask "Have you heard the good word about Ruby?" I felt as if my life were truly about to begin.

Man, I gotta stop doing that!

Although I suppose I can't really blame Ruby for being not at all what I was expecting. Ruby is what Ruby is, after all. But! What Ruby is is pretty terrible, and that's not my fault.

Ruby and Nicky (Sal Vecchio) are out for a moonlight-n-champagne tour of a swamp when Nicky is ruthlessly gunned down by a vicious mob of mobsters. Ruby, all stressed out, immediately goes into labor- christened in blood, indeed.

Before you can say "Wait she was pregnant what is up with drinking that champagne, was it actually sparkling cider or something", it's 16 years later and my, how things have changed! Ruby owns a drive-in, appropriately called Ruby's Drive-In. The mobsters now work for Ruby, selling tickets and crappy concession stand burgers or running the film projector. Leslie the Swamp Baby (OMG WHAT IF THAT WAS A MOVIE) has grown into a mute weirdo who sometimes bites people. Ruby loathes Leslie because she'd rather have Nicky back in her life than be all alone, saddled with their offspring whose Bud Cort-ish face always looking looking LOOKING.

I mean, it's Harold in drag, amirite

Before you can say "Wait how can Ruby's Drive-In be showing Attack of the 50ft Woman when it's supposed to be 1951 and everyone knows that movie came out in 1958, duh", the mobsters start dying courtesy of some invisible force. As the bodies pile up, ex-mobster and erstwhile Ruby-lover Vince (the ever-stalwart Stuart Whitman) grows concerned. However, all of his "Hey Ruby, everyone is dying in strange, awful ways...maybe we should do something about it?"s are met with a "Aw, shaddap!" for you see, Ruby is still a real moll, the type of woman who wears feather boas in the home–in the home–and maintains a constant, fine patina of booze buzz.

Vince takes matters into his own hands and calls in a psychic expert who determines that yes, something is indeed afoot. But what?

What indeed. Leslie is possessed by Nicky, who apparently has been offing his murderers for revengeance. At this point, Ruby turns into a quasi-possession flick which, if you know anything about me you know normally I am seriously into...but Ruby is too little too late and more than a bit too wait why is this happening. Why did Nicky wait 16 years for revenge? Why would he possess Leslie when he was perfectly capable of getting shit done as the aforementioned invisible force? Questions remain unanswered as the film culminates in a freeze-frame ending (always a treat- ALWAYS A TREAT I SAY) apparently disavowed by director Curtis Harrington. Sure, it's a slapdash and nonsensical, added solely for the shock value, but it has a bit of a nice EC Comics-vibe that marginally redeems it.

total moll

While Piper Laurie is terrific, I can't help feeling a bit bad for poor Ruby, neither classic nor cult classic, destined to be remembered by only a few- Knowone remebers the good movies!- and forever relegated to the Z List. It's too bad, because the film feels as if it was dealt a real disservice by it being shoved into a Designer Imposter Carrie/Exorcist box; had it been treated as a proper ghost story, it coulda been a contenda. As it is, it looks like I continue to run through the fields of gold alone.