Lifetime Film Review: V.C. Andrews’ Ruby (dir by Gail Harvey)


This time is the 1950s and the place is Louisiana.  Ruby Landry (Raechelle Banno) is a teenage girl who lives in a shack out on the Bayou.  She’s never known her mother.  She’s never known her father.  She does know her Grandmere, Catherine (Naomi Judd), who is a Bayou witch.  

Ruby might not know much but she knows how to paint.  One day, the owner of a New Orleans art gallery just happened to be driving by when he spots Catherine selling Ruby’s paintings on the side of the road.  He’s impressed, even though the paintings aren’t really that impressive.  He buys the paintings and then hangs them in his gallery.  Ruby can’t wait until she graduates high school so that she can move to New Orleans with her boyfriend, Paul Tate (Sam Duke).  Except … uh-oh!  Grandmere explains to Ruby that Paul is actually her half-brother so no, they can’t run off together.  That’s incest and that might be okay for the Ozarks but folks in the Bayous got standards.

As long as secrets are being shared, Grandmere also explains that Ruby’s father is a wealthy man named Pierre Dumas (Gil Bellow) and that Ruby actually has a twin sister, who we later learn is named Gisselle (and who is played by Karina Banno, the twin sister of Raechelle Banno).  Having dropped a lot of information on Ruby, Grandmere promptly dies.

Ruby inherits Grandmere’s shack and she still has the money that she made off of her paintings, which means that Ruby is now one of the richest people in the Bayou.  However, her alcoholic grandfather still wants to sell her to a local businessman so Ruby flees the Bayous, heads to New Orleans, and decides to live with Pierre!

Pierre is ecstatic to discover that he has another daughter.  Pierre’s wife (Lauralee Bell) is a bit less excited about it.  And Gisselle claims that she could hardly care less about her Bayou sister.  In fact, it seems like Ruby’s only ally is the housekeeper who, it turns out, knows all of the best voodoo priestesses in New Orleans….

Now, believe it or not, all of that happens within the first 30 minutes of RubyRuby is not a boring film.  In fact, one could claim that there’s almost too much going on.  No sooner has Ruby moved into the house than she’s hearing mysterious weeping coming from one of the bedrooms.  No sooner has Ruby started high school in New Orleans than she’s being set up for humiliation by her twin sister.  As soon as Ruby draws one of her classmates naked, you know that she’s going to end up in an asylum where a doctor will demand to know if she’s familiar with the term nymphomania.  Ruby is a big and messy film, one that embraces the melodrama with so much enthusiasm that it’s easy to overlook that the film really doesn’t make much sense and that a lot of the plot is dependent upon people not being particularly smart.

Ruby is one of the many recent Lifetime films to be adapted from a V.C. Andrews novel.  Now, of course, V.C. Andrews didn’t have anything to do with writing Ruby.  She died long before the book was written.  Instead, Ruby was written by ghost writer, pretending to be Andrews.  The plot ticks off all of the usual V.C. Andrews tropes with such precision that it’s hard not to be both impressed and amused.  White trash?  Yep.  Incest?  Yep.  Rich relatives?  Yep.  More incest?  Yep.  Big house?  Yep.  Twins?  Yep.  If you made use of a random V.C. Andrews plot generation, it would probably give you something similar to Ruby.

Ruby is silly fun.  It doesn’t reach the heights of Flowers in the Attic films but it’s still better than the films that Lifetime made about the Casteel family.  It was also the first of four films about Ruby and her family.  I’ve got the other three on the DVR and I’ll be watching and hopefully reviewing them before the month ends.

6 Trailers For The Sunday Before Halloween


It’s a holiday and you know what that means!

Or maybe you don’t.  Sometimes, I forget that not everyone can read my mind.  Anyway, I used to do a weekly post of my favorite grindhouse trailers.  Eventually, it went from being a weekly thing to being an occasional thing, largely due to the fact that there’s only so many trailers available on YouTube.  Now, Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers is something that I usually only bring out on a holiday.

Like today!

So, here are 6 trailers for the last week of October!

  1. Last House On The Left (1972)

“Two girls from the suburbs.  Going to the city to have …. good time….”  Wow, thanks for explaining that, Mr. Creepy Narrator Dude.  That classic tag line about how to avoid fainting would be imitated time and again for …. well, actually, it’s still being imitated.  This was Wes Craven’s 1st film and also one of the most influential horror films of all time.

2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Speaking of influential horror movies, the trailer for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is almost scarier than the film itself!

3. Lisa Lisa (1977)

I  have actually never watched this film but I love the trailer.  Can you guess why?

4. Ruby (1977)

Ruby, starring Piper Laurie!  I’m going to assume this was after Piper Laurie played Margaret White in Carrie.  Don’t take your love to town, Ruby.

5. Jennifer (1978)

Jennifer was another film that pretty obviously inspired by Carrie.  In this one, Jennifer has psychic control over snakes.  So, don’t mess with Jennifer.

6. The Visitor (1979)

Finally, this Italian Omen rip-off features Franco Nero as Jesus, so it’s automatically the greatest film ever made.

Happy Weekend Before Halloween!

A Movie A Day #91: Ruby (1992, directed by John Mackenzie)


Of all the stars to come out of Twin Peaks, Sherilyn Fenn’s star briefly shined the brightest and sadly, she was the most misused by Hollywood.  While it is true that Fenn has worked regularly since Twin Peaks went off the air, she has rarely gotten the great roles that someone with her talent deserves.  Instead, her performances have far too often been the best thing about an otherwise mediocre film.

For example, Ruby.

In this very speculative biopic about the strip club owner who killed Lee Harvey Oswald and whose organized crime background has put him at the center of a thousand conspiracy theories, Danny Aiello plays Jack Ruby and Sherilyn Fenn plays his only friend, Sheryl Ann Dujean (or, when she’s stripping in the Carousel Club, Candy Cane).  The film portrays Jack Ruby as being a low-level mobster who is never as valuable or as important to his superiors as he thinks he is.  In this movie, Ruby is always on the outside looking in on the conspiracy and, when he kills Oswald, it is because he wants to prove that he is more than just a small time hood.  Candy, who was a composite of several Carousel Club dancers, maintains a strong platonic friendship with Jack and is always there for him to talk to, except for when she goes to Vegas to perform for and sleep with the President.

Ruby came out as the same time as JFK and it often seems like a fanfic based on Stone’s film.  Low budget and overwritten, Ruby never works as a movie but Danny Aiello is perfectly cast as the bombastic but insecure Jack Ruby.  Unfortunately, Ruby‘s screenplay often does not seem to know what it wants to say about its main character.  As Candy, Fenn is not given nearly enough to do but she still manages to show the same natural spark that made her a star on Twin Peaks.

Sherilyn Fenn is not the only Twin Peaks cast member to have a role in Ruby.  Keep an eye out for a post-Twin Peaks, pre-X-Files David Duchovny, playing the role of J.D. Tippit.

6 More Trailers Exploit The 70s


Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it’s time for another installment of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Exploitation and Grindhouse Trailers.  Today, all 6 of our trailers come from the 70s.  That’s actually kind of a coincidence but it’s as close to a theme as I could find so let’s go with it.

1) Superchick

Let’s start things off on a positive, empowering note with the trailer for Superchick.  This appears to be an only-in-the-70s type film.  For one thing, the narrator says “stewardess” instead of “flight attendant.”  What a pig.  (Just kidding…I think stewardess has kind of a nice retro sound to it, to be honest…)

2) Satan’s Cheerleaders

“Are you kidding?  I’m no maiden.  I’ve been a cheerleader for three years…”  Would I find this trailer as amusing if my older sister hadn’t been a cheerleader at the same time that I was going through my whole goth ballerina phase?  Probably.  I haven’t seen the actual film but, for whatever reason, I suspect it doesn’t quite live up to the trailer.

3) Countess Dracula

Ingrid Pitt, who died on the 23rd on the month, helped to bring Hammer films fully into the 20th Century with this film and the Vampire Lovers.  Here she plays the infamous Elisabeth Bathory.

4) Don’t Answer The Phone

This is not a trailer to watch if you’re in a paranoid state-of-mind.  This is a pretty bad movie but it does feature one of the best “psycho” performances of all time from the late character actor, Nicholas Worth. 

5) The House That Vanished

I have mixed feelings about including this one because it’s a TV spot as opposed to an actual theatrical trailer.  But I’m including it anyway because it is the epitome of everything I love about 70s exploitation.  The film is actually an English film that was entitled Scream and Die! which, in all honesty, sounds like a pretty good title to me.   However, by the time it was released in the States, Wes Craven’s Last House On The Left was making a lot of money and every horror film was retitled with a House-themed title.  Also, the “it’s only a movie…” chant is lifted directly from the advertising campaign for Last House On The Left.

6) Ruby

Finally, let’s end with Ruby.  This is yet another one where I haven’t seen the actual movie but from the trailer, it appears to be a proud part of the grindhouse tradition in that it not only rips off Carrie but The Exorcist as well.

BONUS TRAILER:

Yes, I’m including a bonus trailer!  Why?  Because I love you, that’s why.

This is for Michael Almereyda’s haunting and odd vampire film, NadjaNadja was released in 1994 but it features Peter Fonda so it might as well be from the 70s.

And, since I have to end everything on an even number (it’s a long story), here’s another bonus trailer just so we end up with 8 trailers instead of 7.  This is another unconventional, New York vampire tale — Vampire’s Kiss.  This is also known as the movie where Nicolas Cage actually ate a live cockroach while being filmed.  (Personally, I think of it as being the precursor to Mary Harron’s American Psycho.)