MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5)
Katharine Ross as MARGARET WALSH
Sam Elliott as PETE DANNER
John Standing as JASON MOUNTOLIVE
Ian Hogg as HARRY
Margaret Tyzack as NURSE ADAMS
Charles Gray as KARL LIEBNECHT
Lee Montague as JACQUES GRANDIER
Hildegard Neil as BARBARA KIRSTENBURG
Marianne Broome as MARIA GABRIELI
Studio: Scream Factory
Directed by: Richard Marquand
BY KEVIN CARR
As someone who grew up in the 1970s, I have a definite nostalgia for the decade. Of course, I was born in 1971, so most of my in-decade experiences were tailor-made for children. Still, I remember seeing advertisements on television and occasionally in the theater for films that I would have never been allowed to see while my age was still in the single digits.
As I got older and grew into the 1980s, I caught up on a lot of the classic horror films from the 70s, like “The Exorcist,” “The Omen” and “Halloween.” One of those that has slipped through the cracks over the years was “The Legacy.” It was a film that I always saw on the rental shelf, but we always found something else to watch.
Now, more than 35 years after the film was released in theaters, I’m finally catching and seeing it thanks to Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray release. And I’m glad I’ve had a chance to see it. More over, I’m glad it took me this long to see it, for had I seen it in the 80s or 90s, I may not have appreciated its character and flavor, dismissing it as a sign of the times.
“The Legacy” isn’t as much of a classic as “The Omen” or “The Exorcist,” for example, and back then it was unfairly compared to these films. A lot of this is because it treads the same ground, which is flirting with the Devil as well as witchcraft, popular topics in 70s horror.
Removed from this sense of contemporary viewing, I can look back at “The Legacy” as a classic, a film that would unlikely be made today because it’s too slow of a burn, featuring a couple studios would likely see as too old (both Katharine Ross and Sam Elliot were in their mid-to-late 30s when they made this) and possibly considered too grown up for the coveted teenager and twentysomething crowd that dominates horror audiences today.
“The Legacy” tells the story of two Los Angeles architects named Margaret Walsh (Ross) and Pete Danner (Elliott), who have been brought to England to redesign part of a millionaire’s home. When they get there, they discover themselves surrounded by several other mysterious guests, all of whom have gathered to wait for their beneficiary to die. Soon, Margaret and Pete uncover a greater, supernatural mystery surrounding everyone’s true motives.
In 2015, “The Legacy” seems fresh because it’s not drowning in the cliches of modern horror, e.g. found footage and overused CGI. There’s an organic nature to the 70s filmmaking that seems warm and comforting here. It’s also a much more adult story than you’d expect for a mainstream horror film, dealing with themes of wealth and status as well as sacrifice and moral ambiguity.
I was somewhat surprised at how much I enjoyed “The Legacy,” not just for its rich experience in the decade, but also for it’s familiar-yet-unique story that takes its time to play out but still delivers a punch that hits you emotionally rather than being viscerally terrifying on the surface.
“The Legacy” Blu-ray includes a new high-definition transfer, which looks mighty nice, preserving the richness of 70s-era film with a clean-looking print. There are only a handful of special features, including new interviews. One is a 14-minute interview with legendary editor Anne V. Coates. The other is a ten-minute interview with special effects artist Robin Grantham.
Additional special features include the unfortunately 4:3 aspect ratio theatrical trailer, a distressingly low-res TV spot, a pretty neat vintage radio spot and a still gallery. These are a bit thin for a classic Blu-ray, but really amount to bonuses for a classic film in a new release.