The Movie Waffler Blu-Ray Review - THE LEGACY (1978) | The Movie Waffler

Blu-Ray Review - THE LEGACY (1978)

the legacy 1978 review
An American couple are invited to a sinister British estate.

Review by Jason Abbey

Directed by: Richard Marquand

Starring: Katherine Ross, Sam Elliot, Roger Daltrey, John Standing, Ian Hogg

the legacy 1978 blu-ray

Coming on like the love child of Dennis Wheatley and Agatha Christie, The Legacy marks the directorial debut of the short-lived Richard Marquand, whose career encompassed thrillers, Ewoks, Bob Dylan and Van Damage.

the legacy 1978 review

This is a horror movie that harks back to the more gothic tradition but with the trendy dad inflections that dated the likes of Dracula A.D. 1972 and The Beast Must Die (alas this film has no werewolf break). Therefore, for all its deal with the devil plotting, it still tries to shoehorn a rock star in Roger Daltrey (playing a rock star) and a couple of American actors looking to kickstart a dormant career (Sam Elliot going on to greater things, Katherine Ross realising that The Stepford Wives is tantamount to a documentary in Hollywood).

Written by Hammer veteran Jimmy Sangster, the film stars Ross as Margaret, an interior designer relocating to England with her boyfriend Pete (Elliot). Exploring the countryside by motorbike, they are run off the road by chauffeur driven toff Jason Mountlove (John Standing). With the bike in ruins, Mountlove offers to put them up in his rambling country estate. The lines between guest and prisoner are blurred when a disparate group of aristos arrive and people start dying in a decidedly grizzly style (a To The Manor Born sitcom directed by Dario Argento springs to mind).

the legacy 1978 review

The bumping off of the cast resembles both Christie's 'Ten Little Indians' and the set piece implausible accidents of The Omen (death by chicken bone and mirror being the most grizzly). The enigmatic Mountlove's absence casts the finger of suspicion in an obvious direction and the cast of assorted suspicious types seem to have Rosemary’s Baby style designs on Margaret. Throw in a couple of suspicious cats and a road to nowhere and you pretty much have a checklist for diabolical bingo.

Unfortunately, it is not scary for one minute. Marquand’s previous documentary background doesn’t help give this the necessary veritรฉ to chill the blood. Far too much time is spent hanging around the estate, making it look like an advert for Tour Britain. There’s enough ham on display from the game British cast to fill a UKIP conference. It does have a certain elegance though. The cinematography from Dick Bush is lush and sun dappled, and the editing of the key death scenes is kept tight by Anne V Coates.

the legacy 1978 review

Ross and Elliot have chemistry, and Ross gives probably her best performance playing more than a girlfriend role and playing someone more nuanced than normally allowed. The Elliot ‘tache however is still very much in its Tom Selleck period, not yet blossoming into the grandiose splendour of later works.

A fun autumnal Sunday night offering then. Put the log fire on, pour a Glenlivet and get cosy on your favourite couch - Marquand's murders are more Midsummer than Midsommar.

You get two cuts of the film: the shorter US version and the open matte longer UK release. There is not much to choose from really. The UK cut elongates scenes apart from a slighter longer Daltrey death scene and doesn’t radically change the film in any substantial way.

There is an audio commentary by Kevin Lyons, which is engaging but not teeming with substantially new insight into the film. The late great Anne V Coates discusses her work in an engaging short interview. Add a smattering of interviews with make up artist Robin Grantham and second unit director Joe Marks, along with a side by side comparison of the two different cuts and you have an array of extras that are only spoiled by an understandable lack of directorial input.

To top everything off there is the usual limited edition booklet with a new essay by Julian Upton, an archival location report, Jimmy Sangster on The Legacy, extracts from the novelisation, an overview of critical responses, an introduction to 'Between the Anvil and the Hammer' (the short film of which is also included in this set).

A gallery of stills and original trailer rounds everything off.

The Legacy is on blu-ray now from Powerhouse Indicator.