Here’s a secret. For as much as I enjoy pedigreed horror films dripping with social criticism, there is nothing quite like an old-school horror film brimming with schlock and fun. Once the domain of the Saturday afternoon movies, forgotten low budget horror films are finding a brand new audience thanks to bootleg YouTube videos and VOD. And so I thought it was time to revisit one of my very favorite horror films of questionable taste: Curtis Harrington’s Ruby (1977).
Coming on the heels of her explosive turn in Carrie, Piper Laurie is luminous as the titular character, a woman trapped by her murderous past. With a borderline camp aesthetic that works because of the character’s showgirl past, Laurie’s performance fuels the atmospheric tone of the film, which is evocative of drive-in horror.[i] By blending a bit of 1930s supernatural dread with a heaping helping of 1940s film noir, Ruby manages not to trap itself in the decade in which it was made. The end result is a film that feels dated but in the best possible way.