How far would you go to inherit everlasting life? When an American couple (Katharine Ross and Sam Elliott) have a mysterious car accident in the English countryside, the other driver offers to take them to his lavish country estate to make amends. But once there, the suspense deepens when they learn the other houseguests are expecting them! It's not long before the couple's fear turns to terror when the guests (including rock superstar Roger Daltrey) begin dying in unspeakable ways. Now it's clear the true master of the house is a supernatural force that will stop at nothing to find the rightful heirs for an unimaginably horrible legacy.
By looking at the cast and crew of this movie, you'd think that when 'The Legacy' came out back in 1978 that this would have won all of the Oscars that year, but due to its silly and over-the-top story and characters, you can't help but laugh all the way through this movie. The director was Richard Marquand, who of course went on to direct 'Star Wars: Return of the Jedi'. He had editor Anne V. Coates work on the film too, who had won an Oscar for her work on 'Lawrence of Arabia' and makeup effect artist Robin Grantham who went on to work on 'An American Werewolf in London' and 'Return to Oz'. Already right there is one powerhouse team for a horror movie in the late 70s.
Then you can add Sam Elliot, Katharine Walsh (The Graduate), Margaret Tyzack (A Clockwork Orange), Charles Gray (Rocky Horror Picture Show), and Roger Daltrey of 'The Who' to this film that makes 'The Legacy' one crazy horror movie. That cast is impressive, but all of it just seems hysterical and silly as we focus on Pete Danner (Sam Elliot) and Maggie Walsh (Katharine Walsh), who are both interior decorators. Now, I've been alive for almost four decades, and I've never seen a guy like Sam Elliot even remotely exude that he would ever be an interior decorator. I just can't imagine Elliot with a big mustache and a big cigar with that famous southern accent of his, trying to talk to someone into changing the linen colors on their throw pillows. It's just very amusing to see him that way.
Moving on though, Peter and Maggie are offered a large sum of money to fly from Los Angeles to the British countryside to offer their insights on re-decorating a large place, which they know nothing about. After an accident with a local client, they fly out to England and head on motorcycle to their seemingly wealthy customer. However, before they can make it there, they are involved in a car accident with a wealthy man in a limo, who quickly runs out to see if they're okay.
This man goes by Jason Mountolive (John Standing), who also seems to be the person who offered that lump sum of money to get this duo to England. If yo've seen any horror movie before, you can guess who everyone really is, and what happens, which leave pretty much all of the suspense out of this movie. Once at Mountolive's estate several other people arrive including the above mentioned actors and actresses. Slowly but surely, each one is killed off in a bizarre, yet hilarious manner with no rhyme or reason, until it is revealed who is behind all of these murders. This is one of those unfortunate films where the trailer for the movie gave too much away, saying that someone here is a literal monster working for the devil and trying to pass on his evil powers to someone else.
Marquand uses his camera to great effect during the death sequences, and all looks great, but the story and the ways these people die are just plain funny, whether it be someone who is a skilled swimmer who drowns, or a mirror exploding into hundreds of sharp pieces and impaling someone, only to form back to one piece on the wall as if nothing happened. None of it makes any sense really, but it's quite entertaining. It's of course fun to watch Sam Elliot try to figure things out as the story goes on and do his interior decorating thing, while Roger Daltrey delivers a funny over-the-top performance that is memorable.
This is indeed one of the stranger films to ever be released with such a fine cast and crew, one that should be remembered and or remade in this day and age. Oh yes, one more thing. You'll notice that a cat is prominently featured on the all of the artwork and box art for 'The Legacy', which comes into play throughout the movie in a way that you might not predict, because of course like the rest of the movie, it isn't logical.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Scream Factory has 'The Legacy' on a 25GB Blu-ray disc and is Regio A locked inside the normal blue case with reversible cover art. No insert is included here.
'The Legacy' comes with a decent 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. There have been video presentations that have looked better than this from Scream Factory, but not all is lost here. Detail is still rather sharp and vivid in well lit scenes, providing great closeups that reveal great facial features and textured costumes. Wider shots are a tiny bit softer, especially in the interior shots of the house. Colors look generally good from time to time as well, particularly in the exterior segments that are well lit. Other than that, the colors are somewhat muted and vague, which doesn't tend to pop off screen.
There is a layer of grain throughout with moments of very substantial grain. During the first fifteen minutes or so of the film, there are some warps, scratches, debris, and dirt that still crop up, but settles down throughout the remainder of the film. Black levels are not as deep and inky as I'd like to see and the skin tones are a bit muted in the interior shots. There are also some compression issues as well with a tiny bit of a yellow tint to certain parts of the screen. This all being said, the film looks decent to a degree, but for us videophiles, this one needs some work.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mix and does its job nicely. Don't expect a full immersive sound throughout, but rather a well balanced horror track that gains steam nicely. The sound effects and crescendos do their part well in trying to scare us without being to overly loud.
The ambient noises and sound effects are also well layered and have some good directionality in them, as they don't overlap with each other. The score is haunting and fun and never drowns out any of the other sound aspects either. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow as well and free of any pops, cracks, and hiss, leaving this audio presentation with solid marks.
Interview with Editor Anne V. Coates (HD, 14 Mins.) - An awesome interview with Anne V. Coates, who talks about the film and her amazing career. Coates edited 'Lawrence of Arabia', 'Masters of the Universe', 'What About Bob', and 'Chaplin' to name a few. Must watch.
Interview with Special Make Up Effects Artist Robin Grantham (HD, 11 Mins.) Robin and his wonderful English accent talking about this film and his career. He is quite funny and worked on 'An American Werewolf in London' and 'Return to Oz'.
Trailers (HD, 2 Mins.) - A TV spot and theatrical trailer are included.
Radio Spot (1 Min.) - An audio trailer that played on the radio.
Photo Gallery (HD, 3 Mins.) - Promo art and behind the scenes stills from the movie.
'The Legacy' may not be the movie it was intended to be, but we've got something of a cult film here with a brilliant cast and crew. Hell, we get Sam Elliot playing an interior decorator. What are the odds there? The film tried to play up the horror aspect too much instead of focusing on the comedy, which there is clearly more of. That being said, 'The Legacy' is still one of those rare forgotten movies that should be seen by film fans. The video presentation isn't amazing, but the interviews in the bonus feature section are top notch, along with this audio track. This is worth a look.