2011 Bram Stoker International Film Festival Lineup Announced - Dread Central
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2011 Bram Stoker International Film Festival Lineup Announced

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2011 Bram Stoker International Film Festival Lineup AnnouncedThe 2011 Bram Stoker International Film Festival, running October 28th-31st, takes place in Whitby, North Yorkshire, England, and shows independent narrative features, documentaries, and shorts from around the world, many of which will be having their world or UK premieres at this year’s fest. Read on for all the details regarding the lineup!

Below is a list of all the films screening this year. Other events include a Vampire Ball on Saturday, October 29th; a performance of The Feast of Blood on Sunday, October 30th; and the Scorpius Dance Theatre’s production of A Vampire’s Tale on Halloween itself. In addition, the following awards will be presented at the festival:

Best Picture
Best Short
Best Director
Best Effects
Best Script…
…and a special Lifetime Achievement Award

For more info visit the official Bram Stoker International Film Festival website, and click here for ticket packages.

Absentia – UK PREMIERE
Director: Mike Flanagan
Year / Nationality: 2011 – USA
Genre: Horror
A woman and her sister begin to link a mysterious tunnel to a series of disappearances, including that of her own husband.

Adam Chaplin
Director: Emanuele De Santi
Year / Nationality: 2011 – Italy
Genre: Horror
The film, set in an unreal country called Heaven Valley, tells the story of a man, Adam, whom after the death of his wife – occurred in suspicious circumstances- begins to investigate on her murder, discovering the involvement of the local mafia boss: Denny Richards. Unable to trust the police, clearly corrupted and controlled by Danny, Adam destroyed by his anger, summons a demon who will give him superhuman strength and dark powers. The demon will follow him during his trip, promising to lead Adam to the murderer if he does everything he asks. This will unleash a bloody war that will bring Adam, with the demon on his side; and the police corp with all its dark allies, on the other. Denny, supported by his two sadistic sons Ben and Derek, will also enroll a hired killer. The fight can start… and it will be extreme.

Alice Jacobs Is Dead
Director: Alex Horwitz
Year / Nationality: 2009 – USA
Genre: Horror / Short
Dr. Ben Jacobs saved the world. The drug he created allowed mankind to fight back against the Z-virus, which nearly destroyed civilisation entirely. Now, in the aftermath of the crisis, he’s trying to cure the last victims of the virus. But what will happen when he brings his mysterious work home?

An Evening with My Comatose Mother
Director: Jonathan Martin
Year / Nationality: 2011 – USA
Genre: Horror / Short
When Dorothy is invited over to the Poes’ on Halloween night, no one ever told her about their decomposing, comatose mother living in the upstairs bedroom. She’ll wish somebody had when the storm hits, and Mother wakes up.

Annabel Lee – UK PREMIERE
Director: George Higham
Year / Nationality: 2002 – USA
Genre: Horror / Animation / Short
Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s poem Annabel Lee, Poe himself comes to life through the magic of stop-motion animation. Annabel Lee is quintessential Poe- a haunted soul, a lost love and the nocturnal grave-quest. The epic quality of this Orphic adventure includes expressionist visions of a lone figure on a journey through a nightmarish landscape in order to be re-united with his lost love…but first he must overcome the wrath of the “Envious Angels” that ruined his world!

Attack of the Martian Mutant from Mars! – WORLD PREMIERE
Director: Neal Harvey
Year / Nationality: 2011 – UK
Genre: Sci-Fi / Comedy / Short
A 1950’s style spoof b-movie set in Yorkshire following the bumbling Professor and his faithful sidekick Timmy on their quest to save Whitby from a Martian mutant… from Mars!!

Axed – WORLD PREMIERE
Director: Ryan L. Driscoll
Year / Nationality: 2011 – UK
Genre: Horror
Kurt Wendell has just lost his top banking job in the city. Unable to tell his family the dreadful truth, Kurt punishes everyone around him. Until, feeling bad, he finally realizes that he has made his home life a living hell. Enough is enough. He grants his children a day off school and his wife a day off work. They are going for a surprise trip to the countryside. Brimming with excitement, Kurt’s family are overjoyed. They have finally got their old dad back. But little do they know what Kurt has in store for them… One last bit of business.

Baby Shower – UK PREMIERE
Director: Pablo Illanes
Year / Nationality: 2011 – Chile
Genre: Horror
Four ex classmates get together to celebrate the pregnancy of one of them. The venue chosen for the party is a country house located one hour away from the city. It has been a while since the four of them saw each other for the last time and one recently committed betrayal threatens to destroy their long and deep friendship. The revelation of a dark secret and a series of violent deaths transform the baby shower into a nightmare.

Bonnie & Clyde vs. Dracula – UK PREMIERE
Director: Timothy Friend
Year / Nationality: 2008 – USA
Genre: Horror
After their latest heist goes wrong legendary outlaw couple Bonnie & Clyde are on the run from the law and in need of fast money to fix up their companion who was shot during the robbery. Finding shelter in a small town they crash at the mansion of the notorious Dr. Loveless. When Bonnie & Clyde arrive at the Doctor’s mansion they discover he has a secret. Deep in his cellar, the recently revived Dracula awaits… and when gangsters meet vampires, there’s bloody hell to pay!

Cabine of the Dead
Director: Vincent Templement
Year / Nationality: 2010 – France
Genre: Horror / Short
Patrick, an ordinary man about thirty years old, gets stuck in a phone booth, the night when the dead return to life… While struggling with zombies, he decides to call his close relations to ask them for help.

Cassadaga – UK PREMIERE
Director: Anthony DiBlasi
Year / Nationality: 2011 – USA
Genre: Horror
A deaf girl attempts to contact her sister during a séance, only to connect with the ghost of a murdered woman.

Clive Barker’s Nightbreed
Director: Clive Barker
Year / Nationality: 1990 – USA
Genre: Horror
Shown with special permission from Morgan Creek Productions for the first time in British cinemas since its release!
A community of mutant outcasts of varying types and abilities attempts to escape the attention of a psychotic serial killer and redneck vigilantes with the help of a brooding young man who discovers them. Based on the novel “Cabal” by Clive Barker.

Deriva
Director: Angel Tirado
Year / Nationality: 2009 – Spain
Genre: Horror / Short
Two lost fishermen find their way back to a changed world.

Deus Irae
Director: Pedro Cristiani
Year / Nationality: 2010 – Argentina
Genre: Horror / Short
A fragile border separates our world from the realm of darkness, where nightmarish creatures await in the shadows. Only one thing is standing in their way: a secret order of priests, who devote their souls to protect this border. They are the ‘Deus Irae’.

El Hombre De La Bolsa
Director: Pedro Cristiani
Year / Nationality: 2010 – Argentina
Genre: Horror / Short
Late at night, brother and sister ride the elevator with their father. Suddenly, the lights go off, and the box gets stuck between two floors. In the dark. Unable to get any help, the father pushes his little boy through the narrow space between the shaft and the hallway. And he steps into the darkness. Alone in the claustrophobic box, father and daughter stay silent, until a childish whining is heard from the shadows. Someone is inside the elevator… Breathing by their side.

Grave Encounters – UK PREMIERE
Director: The Vicious Brothers
Year / Nationality: 2011 – Canada
Genre: Horror
Lance Preston and the crew of “Grave Encounters”, a ghost-hunting reality television show, are shooting an episode inside the abandoned Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital, where unexplained phenomena has been reported for years. All in the name of good television, they voluntarily lock themselves inside the building for the night and begin a paranormal investigation, capturing everything on camera. They quickly realise that the building is more than just haunted – it is alive – and it has no intention of ever letting them leave. They find themselves lost in a labyrinth maze of endless hallways and corridors, terrorised by the ghosts of the former patients. They soon begin to question their own sanity, slipping deeper and deeper into the depths of madness, ultimately discovering the truth behind the hospital’s dark past…and taping what turns out to be their final episode.

Incubator – UK PREMIERE
Director: Jimmy Weber
Year / Nationality: 2011 – USA
Genre: Horror / Short
A young man wakes up in a motel bathtub full of ice, only to find his problems have just begun.

Juan Con Miedo – UK PREMIERE
Director: Daniel Romero
Year / Nationality: 2010 – Spain
Genre: Horror / Fantasy / Short
During the holidays at his grandparents’ village, John meets Mary, a mysterious girl who tells the terrifying legend surrounding the peasant’s old house. John, unlike the character in the tale, is fearful. Mary is not.

Last Caress – UK PREMIERE
Director: François Gaillard / Christophe Robin
Year / Nationality: 2010 – France
Genre: Horror
Five youngsters who just wanted to spend a nice weekend amongst friends in a manor will find a far less peaceful place than they expected when faced with a family curse and a sadistic ruthless killer. Blinded by their never-ending quest for carnal pleasures they will fail to perceive the flood of blunt violence about to engulf them.

Last Seen on Dolores Street
Director: Devi Snively
Year / Nationality: 2010 – USA
Genre: Horror / Short
In a hard-boiled town, a heartbroken woman says goodbye to an old pet and hello to a new nightmare.

Living Dead Girl
Director: Jean Rollin
Year / Nationality: 1982 – France
Genre: Horror
Released uncut in the UK for the first time EVER ! Gloomy and atmospheric, this is Rollin at his best. Available uncut for the first time, with over 4 minutes restored from the original. Will appeal to hardcore fans and mainstream gore-fiends alike. A toxic spill revives a beautiful, dead heiress who, with the help of her childhood friend, must quench her overpowering bloodlust. An unholy mix of sex, zombies & vampires with a stunning & extremely gory finale… Also features cult movie star and Borowczyk’s muse, Marina Pierro, who starred opposite Clockwork Orange star Patrick Magee in ‘Bloodbath of Doctor Jekyll’. Masters for the transfers were created from Jean Rollin’s own 35mm inter-negatives.

Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film
Director: Andrew Monument
Year / Nationality: 2009 – USA
Genre: Documentary
An exploration of the appeal of horror films, featuring interviews with many legendary directors in the genre.

Pinball – UK PREMIERE
Director: Ruy Veridiano
Year / Nationality: 2010 – Brazil
Genre: Horror / Short
A teenager dabbles in witchcraft, which doesn’t work out, he escapes to the cemetery and meets Death in an dark and little frequented arcade. Amidst metaphysical dialogs and pinball records, he tries to cheat Death and get another chance in the game.

Playthings: Hunt – UK PREMIERE
Director: Wade K. Savage
Year / Nationality: 2011 – Australia
Genre: Horror / Short
A pair of young women run for their lives amongst the decay of a fallen civilisation. However, the question beckons, exactly what are you willing to do to survive?

Ray Harryhausen Presents: The Pit and the Pendulum
Director: Marc Lougee
Year / Nationality: 2007 – USA
Genre: Horror / Animation / Short
A lone soldier, arrested under mysterious circumstances, is condemned to imprisonment and torture by a Spanish Inquisition tribunal. In the darkness, Sent to his meet his fate in the dreaded ‘Pit’, he wrestles with fear and despair. Within himself he finds hope and faith despite the Inquisition Tribunal’s fiendish machinations to destroy him.

Sacrifice – UK PREMIERE
Director: Robert Jukic
Year / Nationality: 2009 – Australia
Genre: Horror / Short
In this Gothic vampire short film, a race against time leads an unsuspecting victim into the path of an ancient evil. Who will survive this unholy encounter and who will become the next sacrifice?

Shadows – UK PREMIERE
Director: John Penney
Year / Nationality: 2010 – USA
Genre: Thriller
A Western businessman, his Thai wife and son experience a horrible accident while visiting Bangkok. In the aftermath, they find there is a shadow world between life and death where endless darkness lies.

Solos (Descendents) – UK PREMIERE
Director: Jorge Olguín
Year / Nationality: 2008 – Chile
Genre: Horror
In an undefined future, the earth has been destroyed by man, and the air polluted with a mysterious virus that turns humans into zombies. Only a few children are immune to the disease and have adapted to these extreme conditions and survived. Camille, a nine year old girl wanders through these desolate wastelands, protecting herself from zombies and the armed military forces that roam the land killing anyone who might be infected. However, the little girl will find other kids like her that share a recurring dream of: they all have visions of the ocean as their destiny. Together they will try to survive the journey to the ocean in search of an escape from the military who seem to be as determined on their destruction as on the zombies.

The Demonology of Desire
Director: Rodrigo Gudiño
Year / Nationality: 2007 – Canada
Genre: Horror / Short
Late one night, Ramona makes a powerful wish. The following day, her prayer is miraculously answered when she meets Eric, a boy with no idea of the dark, fantastical depths that a boyhood crush can lead him. Equal parts fatal fable, romantic thriller and art-core horror, The Demonology of Desire is a love story… with a caustic heart.

The Devil’s Rejects
Director: Rob Zombie
Year / Nationality: 2005 – USA
Genre: Horror
In Ruggsville, Texas, the police under the command of Sheriff John Quincy Wydell attack the house of the sadistic serial killers Firefly family (a.k.a. The Devil’s Reject) and they arrest mother Firefly, but Otis B. Driftwood and Baby Firefly escape from the siege. Tiny is wandering nearby the house and also escapes. Otis and Baby call their patriarch, the mad clown Captain Spaulding and they schedule to reunite at an isolated motel in the desert. When Otis and Baby arrive, they kidnap two families of singers, using sadism and violence against the harmless persons. Meanwhile, Sheriff Wydell promises to capture and kill the runaways, seeking revenge for the death of his brother, the Deputy George Wydell.

The Eyes of Edward James
Director: Rodrigo Gudiño
Year / Nationality: 2006 – Canada
Genre: Horror / Short
Shot in the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock, The Eyes of Edward James tells the story of Edward, a patient regressed into the traumatic memory of the evening that his wife, Sarah, is brutally murdered. As his memory unfolds, however, it becomes apparent that Edward is not being completely honest with his doctor, just as Sarah was not being entirely honest with him on the night of her death.

The Furred Man
Director: Paul Williams
Year / Nationality: 2010 – UK
Genre: Horror / Comedy / Short
Max Naughton sits in an interrogation room sporting a black eye, a bruised cheek and dressed in a furry costume which is caked in dry blood. He can explain.

The Hike – WORLD PREMIERE
Director: Rupert Bryan
Year / Nationality: 2011 – UK
Genre: Horror
A young soldier, Kate, returns from a tour in Afghanistan after witnessing her boyfriend’s tragic death in combat. With the comfort of her friends, including Torri, she takes the chance to get away on a camping trip to a picturesque, remote area of the British countryside. Wanting to escape their past, the girls begin their expedition into the woods for a peaceful break. As they near Sunset Point, they come across a strange and evasive group of locals who seem to be living off the land. During their journey they also have a friendly encounter with three charming, rock-climbing adventurers, led by Ethan. After the girls find themselves secluded again, Charlie goes suddenly goes missing, leaving the girls vulnerable in the dangerous woods. As darkness falls, the girls will be forced to rely on each other and their newly formed friendships to find Charlie before it becomes the last hike of their lives.

The Killage
Director: Joe Bauer
Year / Nationality: 2011 – Australia
Genre: Short / Horror / Comedy
A group of eleven recruits, composed entirely of excruciating social stereotypes, and one dorky camp instructor, embark on a weekend-long work retreat in the quasi-wilderness of northern south-east Queensland. Everything goes relatively smoothly, that is to say, lamely, until (you guessed it) one of the group turns out to be a homicidal maniac hell-bent on dispatching the others in a variety of creative ways. The only question is, who is the killer? Is it the jock? The goth? Only time, and a suitable body count, will tell.

The Millennium Bug – UK PREMIERE
Director: Kenneth Cran
Year / Nationality: 2011 – USA
Genre: Horror
When the Haskin family seeks refuge from Y2K hysteria in the isolated forests of the Sierra Diablos mountains, madness and terror find them there. Abducted by a vicious hillbilly clan, the Haskins fight for survival, but neither they nor the hillbilly Crawfords can comprehend the monstrous nightmare about to erupt from the bowels of the earth.

The Orphan Killer – UK PREMIERE
Director: Matt Farnsworth
Year / Nationality: 2011 – USA
Genre: Horror
The Orphan Killer is a tour de force murder flick that defies classification. It goes far beyond current trends in gore and breaks open a new suffering genre of horror. Marcus Miller is a serial murderer hellbent on teaching his estranged sister Audrey what it means to have family loyalty. His lessons are taught in massive doses of vulgar and unimaginable pain. Throughout her brutal torture we learn that Marcus is not the only Miller with Killer in the bloodline as Audrey proves to be a formidable adversary.

The Raven – UK PREMIERE
Director: Peter Bradley
Year / Nationality: 2003 – USA
Genre: Horror / Short
Bringing the classic classic horror poem,THE RAVEN, to chilling life in a faithful, word-for-word adaption. Based not completely in reality, but not completely in fantasy, one man’s self-induced torture over the loss of his lover manifests itself and pushes him over the edge of sanity. This stylised piece captures the twisted, tortured world of Poe in a simple, yet highly detailed way that has to be seen and heard to be believed.

The Tell Tale Heart – UK PREMIERE
Director: Alfonso S. Suárez
Year / Nationality: 2005 – Spain
Genre: Horror / Short
One night a man arrives at the mansion of his older brother. This man, we learn, has just emerged from a mental institution. Apparently he is fine, but as the evening progresses, we find out that he is not cured and in fact has escaped from the institution to seek vengeance because he just wants “to rest.”

Threnody – UK PREMIERE
Director: Tyrrell Shaffner
Year / Nationality: 2009 – USA
Genre: Horror / Short
Aaron, a struggling and lonely musician in Los Angeles, is about to give up. Salvation seems to come when he falls for a beautiful stranger, but he soon discovers that the city of dreams is filled with nightmares when she transforms him into a vampire.

Vamperifica – UK PREMIERE
Director: Bruce Orstein
Year / Nationality: 2011 – USA
Genre: Horror / Comedy
Vamperifica is the story of Carmen McCoy, a flamboyant, twenty-something, sometime student at a small community college, who wants nothing more than to hang out with his best friend Tracy, be in a musical production at school, and maybe, one day, be a star. Instead, he discovers that for him, destiny has something else in store — he is the reincarnation of the 200 year old vampire king, Raven.
Now, Carmen must choose between his friends and that destiny.

Vampires
Director: Vincent Lannoo
Year / Nationality: 2010 – Belgium
Genre: Horror / Comedy
A TV crew is asked by a community of vampires to film their nightly life. After a few failed attempts (costing the lives of some crew members), a new crew finally manages to penetrate the home and un-lives of Bertha and George St. Germain’s family, with their good for nothing son Samson, and their daughter Grace, who’s in the throes of an existential teenage crisis. Your basic everyday family…

Waste Disposal – UK PREMIERE
Director: Katherine King
Year / Nationality: 2010 – UK
Genre: Horror / Short
In a gory homage to the 80’s teen-slasher flicks, Waste Disposal is a scary urban legend. Emma is getting ready for a wild night out with the girls, but the far from normal friendly-neighbourhood serial-killer Mr X is about to change all that. Taking advantage of an opportunist moment, he attacks Emma and uses his new waste disposal unit to dispose of the evidence in a way that is sure to void the Warranty. Waste Disposal is a dark, disturbing little shocker with a brutal twist in the tale that will have you sleeping with the lights on – and never be able to have a bath by yourself again.

Zombiefication – UK PREMIERE
Director: Stefan Lukas
Year / Nationality: 2010 – Austria
Genre: Horror / Comedy / Short
The ultimate manual when it comes to the proper handling of the living dead. Recommended behavioural patterns in case of imminent Zombie epidemics are explained in comprehensible steps and vividly executed.

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News

French Thriller Series Glacé Now Streaming on Netflix as The Frozen Dead

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New to Netflix this month to kickoff the year for the killer crime genre and miniseries streams, is “The Frozen Dead,” translated from its original French title, “Glacé.” It made its debut on our screens as the next foreign language series to bring us chills and thrills since the German-language time travel series, “Dark,” released in October of 2017. It looks like we can look forward to more of these international inclusions on our bloody palette.

So, if you are looking for a serial slasher in an icy setting to hold you over this winter and give you an investigative mystery fix, watch “The Frozen Dead” for a six-episode look at the bloody chaos the mind of a disturbed killer spews on The French Pyrenees.

From the very first introductory scene and the creepy children’s chorus that accompanies the goosebumps – inducing snowstorm view that is in the show’s theme, the eerie tone is set pretty early on. If that does not offer enough incentive to go watch, the camerawork and imagery alone throughout the show are incredible and worth appreciating. These striking visuals are significant if you know it is a television adaptation based on Bernard Minier’s dark novel. All-embracing, the series carries an increase in dread and suspense all throughout, so be prepared to be uncomfortable and most of all, confused as you unravel.

If you happen to enjoy this chilling setting that forces a detective to confront an unsettling past, you’ll be happy to know I found that same cold-evoking, murder mystery intrigue in Christopher Nolan’s work on Insomnia (2002), a film in which Robin Williams unconventionally and successfully jarringly plays the enigmatic man being chased by Al Pacino’s detective character. There’s a film to check out (if you haven’t already that is) if that parallelism interests you – after bingeing the six hours of “The Frozen Dead” that is.

Synopsis:
A grisly find atop a mountain in the French Pyrenees leads investigator Martin Servaz into a twisted dance with a serial killer in this icy thriller. Starring Charles Berling and Julia Piaton. Available now on Netflix.

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Editorials

We Need to Stop Our Alarming Obsession With Child Actors

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On Sunday, January 21, Buzzfeed tweeted an article with the byline “Millie Bobby Brown just Insta-confirmed her relationship with Jacob Sartorius and I have butterflies”. Quite quickly, the tweet was met with a barrage of comments, ranging from mild tuts that it was in poor taste to extreme condemnations of pedophilia and sexualization of a minor (Brown is 13-years-old as of this post). I personally weighed in on the matter.

Earlier that day, CNN ran a video and story where actress/director/producer Natalie Portman opened up about her own experiences being a young girl in Hollywood. Portman’s breakout role was at 12-years-old in The Professional, a movie that celebrated her phenomenal acting abilities. Per CNN, she received her first fan letter a year later, after the film had come out. In it was a rape fantasy. Her local radio show began counting down the time until her 18th birthday, when she would be of legal age. Mind you, she was 13 when all of this was happening, the same age as Millie Bobby Brown.

The parallels between these two stories should immediately be understood and seen. The sexualization and fanatical obsession with children, much less celebrities, is a plague that can only cause damage and harm to those who are on the receiving end. It is time that we recognize that this practice needs to stop. It is time that we all held ourselves accountable.

A cursory search of Browns’ name on Buzzfeed will bring up at least 50 separate articles, on top of the one previously mentioned. These include what was said between “Stranger Things” co-star Finn Wolfhard and herself before their kiss in the second season. There’s a strange obsession with Brown’s instagram account and the conversations between her and other celebrities. There’s even one that states Brown looks like a young Natalie Portman. The irony here is undeniable and it seems very difficult to say that the site doesn’t have an obsession with the young actress.

Hollywood is under a great deal of pressure, rightfully so, from the #MeToo movement as well as Corey Feldman’s pursuit of revealing the truth about widespread pedophilia in that world (watch as he’s shut down by Barbara Walters). His claims have been echoed by Elijah Wood, although he himself states he did not suffer at the hands of any abusers.

Eliza Dushku’s alleged abuser Joel Kramer was recently let go from his agency twenty years after supposed events took place. When those who wonder why the actress didn’t come forward sooner, they overlook the fact that she went to authorities at that time. She details everything in an emotional post on her Facebook page.

The issue, however, does not just lie within those who create in Hollywood. It is exacerbated and pushed on by those who report on Hollywood’s actions and those that read it, lapping up the non-news proclamations with unabashed glee, not recognizing that they are feeding the same system that many are fighting against. Then, even more worrying, is that these “fans” feel entitled to these children, as though they are objects for their pleasure at any time, puppets that need to dance when beckoned.

Sophie Turner weighed in with her thoughts on the matter:


Wolfhard himself has asked that the infatuation and near assault of him and his co-workers come to an end:


And yet even on that particular tweet, Wolfhard’s fans responded with, “Ma babe trust no body“, “I love the right person bixo ♡“, “Love you finn“, and more. “Fans” are declaring their love for a 14-year-old boy that they’ve never met, a person that they’ve only really seen playing someone other than himself.

A culture has been established and reinforced that celebrities are somehow open for our sycophantic obsessions. This needs to stop. We need only to remember our own experiences as children so that we can apply them to these kids today. As Kevin Brown so wonderfully put it on Twitter:

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Reviews

Ruby Blu-ray Review – ’70s Drive-In Psychic Shocker From VCI

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Starrign Piper Laurie, Janit Baldwin, Stuart Whitman, Roger Davis

Written by George Edwards and Barry Schneider

Directed by Curtis Harrington

Distributed by VCI Entertainment


Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and director Curtis Harrington’s Ruby (1977) is paying it to a few of the ‘70s most notable horror films. Cribbing liberally from such better pictures as The Exorcist (1973) and Carrie (1976), this is a picture that could have worked well despite being a pastiche because it begins with a decent setup and the elements for something interesting are present. Unfortunately, nothing ever gels like it has to and Ruby loses focus early on, dashing from one death scene to the next and allowing for little salient connective tissue to tie it all together. The big mystery presented early on should be easy enough for horror fans to deduce, and the film never brings the scare factor. A few of the deaths are novel in their inventiveness, especially the use of the drive-in theater surroundings, but a couple kills do not a movie make and Ruby spends too much time middling and being weird to be of any note.

Florida, 1935. Low level mobster Nicky Rocco (Sal Vacchio) is gunned down by a lake as his pregnant girlfriend Ruby watches on in horror. Just before dying, Nicky swears vengeance on whoever did this to him. Cut to sixteen years later and Ruby (Piper Laurie) runs a drive-in movie theater and lives in a home nearby with her daughter, Leslie (Janit Baldwin). Ruby is a tough broad, quick-witted and foul-mouthed; able to hold her own with the guys. But those guys are beginning to vanish one by one as the bodies start piling up at the theater. Ruby suspects there’s something off with Leslie, so she brings in her own psychic doctor, Dr. Paul Keller (Roger Davis), to examine her daughter. Leslie, as it turns out, is acting as a conduit for the wayward soul of Nicky, who blames Ruby for his ultimate demise. Possessed and programmed for vengeance, Leslie and Ruby have an all-out battle in a search for the truth.

The second half of this film is where things go right off the rails, with scenes aping The Exorcist so much it feels like a knock-off. This isn’t always such a bad thing because knock-offs of better films can always turn out great (see: most of the post-Gremlins little creature features), but Ruby never makes a clear case for introducing these fantastical elements in the third act. This is a story that could have worked better by exercising restraint, playing closer to something like J.D.’s Revenge (1976), a similar gangster-soul-out-for-justice film, than a wild, possessed ride.

What does work, for me, are the drive-in theater setting (I’m a sucker for movies that also involve the craft of film in some way) and the kills, a few of which make great use of the theatrical setting to deliver fitting fatalities. One employee winds up stuffed into a soda machine, with his blood getting pumped into a dark, syrupy drink and served up to guests. Another meets his end on the screen, impaled by the pole on which car speakers are kept. Harrington does inject this picture with a strong sense of atmosphere, too. The locale is woodsy and feels remote; the countryside is dark and foggy, the perfect setting for something grim to occur. None of these elements are enough to fully save the feature, though they do bring enough production value to ease to burden of a poor script.

Personally, I’m a sucker for almost any horror from bygone eras – especially the ‘70s and ‘80s – so, deficiencies aside, Ruby is still worth a spin if you enjoy reveling in this particular era. This is far from an unheralded gem or little-seen treasure, but it does, at the least, rip-off good pictures in spectacularly bad fashion.

This is a rough film and every bit of work done for the 2K restoration still can’t do much to polish it up any better. First, a note: there is a video drop-out for approximately ten seconds around the 21-minute mark. VCI is offering replacement discs via their Facebook page, so check there for further details. Future copies will be corrected, and those should already be on “shelves” now, so consider this an FYI. The 1.85:1 1080p image is frequently soft and murky, darkly shot and poorly lit. Shadow detail is virtually non-existent. The color temperature looks a bit on the warm side. Film grain is noisy and occasionally problematic.

An English LPCM 2.0 track carries a clean & balanced audio experience. Voices sound a touch muffled at times, though nothing too severe. The murders scenes are accompanied by creepy ambient sounds, adding a slight chill. The film’s closing theme song is awesome cheese that must be heard. Subtitles are available in English SDH.

There are two audio commentary tracks; the first, with David Del Valle and Nathaniel Bell; the second, with Curtis Harrington and Piper Laurie.

The film’s original trailer is included in HD.

Also included are a few interviews with Harrington, conducted by David Del Valle, including “2001 David Del Valle Interview with Curtis Harrington”, and “Sinister Image Episode Vol. 1 & Vol. 2: David Del Valle Archival Interview with Curtis Harrington”.

Special Features:

  • NEW 2K RESTORATION from the original camera negative
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Audio Commentary with Director Curtis Harrington & Actress Piper Laurie
  • New Audio Commentary with David Del Valle and Curtis Harrington historian Nate Bell
  • Two Interviews with Curtis Harrington by Film Critic David Del Valle
  • Photo Gallery
  • Optional English SDH subtitles
  • Ruby
  • Special Features
2.3

Summary

A simple plot becomes wildly unfocused but Ruby does have intermittent camp value fans of ’70s horror cinema should dig. VCI’s Blu-ray is no beauty by any means, though it’s likely to be the best this poorly-shot feature will get.

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