HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Legacy
HTS Overall Score:73
Once again it’s back to the golden age of horror. Even though “The Legacy” is not from my favorite decade, the 80s, it has a special place in my heart for being one of the films that creeped the snot out of me as a child. Filmed in 1978 by director Richard Marquand (you might know him from “Return of the Jedi”) as well as written by Hammer horror legend Jimmy Sangster, the twisted little film hearkens back to a time when horror was much different, and much older in nature. Blending a strange mix of murder mystery with the occult, “The Legacy” manages to stay both intensely creeping and slightly uneven at the same time.
Maggie Walsh (Katherine Ross) and her boyfriend Pete Danner (Sam Elliot, the man known for making an entire dialect out of chewing his mustache) are both American architects who suddenly hired by an unknown benefactor to do a mysterious project in England. Given a large sum of money, the two travel over to merry old England where they find themselves in a bit of a pickle after crashing into a rich gentleman’s motor car. This rich gentleman, one Jason Mountolive (John Standing) offers to put them up at Ravenhurst, his private estate in the countryside. Once in the home of Mr. Mountolive, Maggie and Pete start noticing some strange things. Nothing too obtrusive, just a few little oddities that start happening, like a shower almost boiling Peter to the bone, some odd members of the house staff, and then comes the helicopter bringing 5 more guests to the estate.
These 5 guests somehow seem to know who Maggie is and almost seem to be expecting her. Each one of the 5 come from different walks of life, but all of them are immensely successful. We have Barbara (Hildegarde Neil) who is a wealthy publisher, Maria (Marianne Broome) who happens to be a famous swimmer, Clive (Roger Daltry) the European rock star, a hotel owner named Jacque (Lee Montague) and Karl, an ex-soldier who happens to have known Hitler. Mingling with the guests, Maggie and Pete start to get the impression that there is something else afoot, a suspicion that is proven correct when Jason Mountolive calls them to his room to confirm that he is dying.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=53258[/img]Soon after the big reveal in Jason’s room, things get even weirder as the body count starts racking up and the 5 (now 6 with the inclusion of Margaret) become less and less. Soon everyone is watching their backs suspicious of the others, and the rest are powerless to stop the body count from rising. Trying to leave the mansion is harder than it seems, as Peter and Maggie soon find out that all roads seem to lead back to Ravenhurst. Now the only thing the couple can do is weather the storm and hope that staying is no worse than suffering the wrath of a power hungry god.
“The Legacy” is a bit of an odd film, but still quite a fun one. Like many of the films in the 70’s, it has a strong basis in the occult, with Jason Mountolive being the black sorcerer that was pretty obvious from the first big reveal. However, there is a cool little Hitchcock vibe to the murders, and blends in a mystery to the equation as well. The real fault, or flaw, of the film comes from not enough explanation on certain subjects. For example, we know that Maggie was called by Mountolive in the film, and the second act focuses on the fact that she looks identical to Mountolives mother, hinting at something in her past that ties her to the other 5. Unfortunately that whole plot point is basically glossed over and never really picked up again and instead focuses on the murder mystery point for the rest of the film that is until the big reveal at the end. That reveal also is a bit rocky, as Mountolive whispering his final commands into her ear feels a bit rushed, and looks like it could have used some more exposition or time to flesh out his goals.
On the plus side, the movie has an incredible amount of “hammer horror” mystique to it, and is just enveloped in atmosphere. Despite the rocky 2nd act, director Richard Marquand does a fantastic job at blending two different baroque horror with a murder mystery in such a way that satisfies fans of both genres. The acting isn’t fantastic, as each character plays their clichéd role decently enough, with Sam Elliot being the only one with any real personality. As I said, the real draw here is the fantastic atmosphere of the film, as it seeps in and permeates every corner of the hour and forty minute run time. Despite being a tad predictable in places, “The Legacy” manages to be a solidly entertaining horror flick that does a nice commentary on the true meaning of good and evil.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=53266[/img]“The Legacy” is one of the nicer looking transfers I’ve seen come from Scream Factory for quite some time. Since Scream is a niche studio, many times the masters they get aren’t in the best of shape, but “The Legacy” was supposedly given a new transfer straight from the inter-positive, and the results are quite pleasing. Fine detail is excellent, and while there is some softness due to the lenses used during filming, the overall image detail is very well defined. Black levels stay surprisingly strong, with deep inky depth and plenty of shadow detail without the fear of black crush. Colors are warm and definitely a bit burnished (you can thank the wonders of the 70’s for that), and I was amazed to see that there wasn’t a whole lot of digital compression issues. There was a teensy bit of blocking, but nothing too wild. All in all, I was VERY pleased with the transfer given to this little cult horror flick, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it based on that alone.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=53274[/img]The 2.0 DTS-HD MA audio track is more than capable of dishing it out, and sounds satisfactory for the job at hand. There’s a teensy bit of hiss in the background on quitter moments, but other than that, the audio experience does a great job at enveloping the listener in the mood. I had to chuckle at the “escape” bit, as the score does a drastic change of pace and gives us what can only be described as a light hearted 70’s bond theme. If you didn’t know this was made in the late 70s, then the score alone should really be the first clue, as it just REAKS of the era. Dialog is crisp and clear, but I did notice that I had to crank it every once in a while to understand Sam Elliot mumbling into his mustache. There is a little bit of LFE baked into the 2.0 track, which adds some solid oomph, giving some life and weight to the standard 70’s track.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=53282[/img]• Maximum Fury: Filming Fury Road
• Interview with the film's editor, Anne V. Coates
• Interview with special effects artist Robin Grantham
• Theatrical Trailer
• TV Spot
• Radio Spot
• Still Gallery
“The Legacy” is an oddly paced little horror/thriller, and it certainly has its share of flaws. Mainly with the pacing during the center act of the film. It’s luckily bracketed by a strong 1st and 3rd act, as well as being steeped in a fantastic layer of atmosphere that feels like a cross between an Alfred Hitchcock movie meets “Clue”. Once the murders start happening and weird things begin to come together, you can’t take your eyes off of the screen until the chilling (if not ever so slightly predictable) ending. Scream has done a great job with the video mastering for this release, and there is some very nice extras for the horror buffs to dig into. The interview with editor Anne Coates is worth the price of admission alone, as her insight is fantastic. Recommended.
Starring: Levin Rambin, Jason Ritter, Luke Mitchell
Directed by: Jay Miller
Written by: Jay Miller
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 2.0
Studio: Scream Factory
Runtime: 100 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: September 15th 2015
Buy The Legacy On Blu-ray at Amazon
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