I have GOT to stop listening to the lying voice of nostalgia. See, I thought this movie was pretty cool when I was 13 or so. How could it not be? It had spooky cats! That cute guy from The Who! Creative death scenes!
What the lying voice of nostalgia failed to mention was that the movie was boring, had awful disco music, the creative death scenes were mostly laughable, and had one of the most lackadaisical endings ever. And did I mention boring?
Anyway, The Legacy opens with California architect Maggie Walsh (Katherine Ross) and Pete (Sam Elliott) her business partner? Fiancee? Man-whore? It’s not really clear. Doesn’t matter. Maggie gets a job offer in England (the account number on the advance check is 129-666 – oooh, how sinister!) and after some fuss over who will look after their plants while they’re away, the happy couple jaunts across the pond.
You can tell the movie’s a product of the seventies by the music accompanying the “loving couple frolicks about Merrie Englande” montage – disco tune by Kiki Dee! This is why punk rock was inevitable.
I digress. Maggie and Pete are on a motorcycle ride when they get run off the road by upper-class twit Jason Mountolive, who invites them back to the manor for tea while their bike is fixed. Maggie and Pete take him up on the offer only to find that the bike can’t be fixed any time soon and they have to stay overnight. Fair enough, but then a helicopter arrives with a full complement of Eurotrash, who all sport ugly rings and give ominous looks every time Jason Mountolive’s name is mentioned. It turns out that there’s a vague sort of black magic/Satanic pact involved with Mr. Mountolive, to which the posse of Eurotrash all owe their worldly success.
Only, it turns out Mr. Mountolive isn’t as chipper as we saw him in his introductory scene. Turns out he’s a hideously withered old man who’s about to croak and is ready to pick his heir from his houseguests…and his first choice seems to be Maggie. Soon the Eurotrash all start perishing in unlikely and not-nearly-as-entertaining-as-you’d-hope ways and a Big Secret about Maggie emerges. Ho hum.
There are a few bright spots in The Legacy, mostly of the unintentional variety. As “Clive”, one of the Eurotrash brigade, Daltrey proves that as an actor he’s a pretty good rock star (a cutie pie, though). Rocky Horror fans will spot Charles “The Criminologist” Gray, sporting a weird accent that makes him sound like the bastard child of Herman Goring and Truman Capote. The first death scene, involving a pool whose surface inconveniently turns solid, is creepy and well-executed – the others, though, are fairly laughable (especially one character’s patently phony demise by fire). And yes, there are spooky cats (none of them black, for a change). There’s also a nice shot of Sam Elliott’s butt, if that tickles your fancy (he’s not my usual type, but he’ll do).
The story, which might have made a nice Night Gallery episode, is unforgivably padded (especially the “escape” sequence which seems to take up half the running time). The flat cinematography and the utterly pedestrian direction by Richard “I directed Return of the Jedi! No, really!” Marquand drain whatever liveliness the story might have had.
The disc is equally yawn-inducing, with extras limited to a trailer that does a halfway decent job of making this movie look interesting.