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Haunted Sideshow

Dustin Putman

The Legacy  (1978)

Reviewed for by Dustin Putman

The Film
2.5 Stars
(Release Date: September 15, 2015) – A couple's trip to the English countryside results in murder, supernatural captivity, and Kiki Dee love ballad "Another Side of Me" in director Richard Marquand's bizarro 1978 thriller "The Legacy." Katharine Ross (coming off of 1975's culture-zeitgeist hit "The Stepford Wives") and Sam Elliott (also familiar with the horror genre after 1972's effective nature-run-amok tale "Frogs") anchor the macabre lunacy as L.A. architects Margaret Walsh and Pete Danner, lovebirds commissioned for a job across the pond who opt to leave a few days early to take in the sights. When they are run off the road and their motorcycle is damaged, Margaret and Pete accept wealthy aristocrat Jason Mountolive's (John Standing) generosity and are taken back to his remote mansion while they await new transportation. What is intended to be a brief stay of just a couple hours threatens to be made permanent when it becomes clear Mountolive's staff is not about to let them leave.

A malevolent bloodline. Shapeshifting felines. The violent demises of Mountolive's guests at the hands of otherworldly forces and eerie coincidences. Rural roads that all appear to lead directly back to the godforsaken mansion in question. And, last but not least, the inheritance of Satan's powers. Penned by Jimmy Sangster, Patrick Tilley and Paul Wheeler with an off-the-wall boldness that sometimes pays off and sometimes doesn't, "The Legacy" is, storywise, all over the place. When it is focused on the couple's more immediate predicament of not being able to escape the clutches of a deep, dark lineage that has latched itself onto Margaret, the film is at its suspenseful best. As the body count begins to rise and character motivations start stretching beyond the boundaries of plausibility, the plot developments threaten to lose themselves in incomprehensibility. The choice to leave certain narrative threads open to interpretation, however, harkens back to a time when studio filmmaking wasn't so cut-and-dry or afraid to take chances. "The Legacy" is rather silly much of the time but also admirable, a late-'70s curiosity mounted with classy production values and unashamed seriousness.

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

"The Legacy" may not be as well-remembered or as widely celebrated as other 1970s horror titles such as "The Exorcist" and "The Omen," but it certainly lives up to those films via cinematographers Dick Bush and Alan Hume's sophisticated lensing. The resulting new 1080p transfer taken from the interpositive is exceedingly satisfying, exhibiting a notable uptick in the fine object detail and clarity which the high-def format provides. Potent colors and contrast of the overcast English countryside and opulent mansion interiors are also on target, while black levels and the film's grain structure appear natural. There are age-related specks here and there, and at least one blink-and-you'll-miss-it cigarette burn early on, but these are minor observances compared to all that the transfer gets right. The 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio gets the job done with proficiency. It is, of course, front-heavy, but also sounds accurate to source. An instance or two of whispered dialogue is slightly muddled and difficult to decipher, but otherwise clear.

Blu-ray Features
  • Interview with editor Anne V. Coates (13:47, HD)
  • Interview with special make-up effects artist Robin Grantham (10:46, HD)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1:43, HD)
  • TV Spot (0:32, HD)
  • Radio Spot (0:29, HD)
  • Photo Gallery (2:32, HD)
Bottom Line
Scream Factory's Blu-ray release of "The Legacy" is pretty terrific; the attractive new HD transfer is better than any former home video presentation of this title, while the interviews with Academy Award-winning editor Anne V. Coates (1962's "Lawrence of Arabia") and make-up effects artist Robin Grantham make for a nice retrospective of the film. Lesser known than the more prominent studio features of the era, "The Legacy" will be a pleasant surprise for viewers who are not familiar with its crazy, ominous charms. As for fans, a purchase is a no-brainer. Recommended.

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© 2015 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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