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  Legacy, The Inherit The EvilBuy this film here.
Year: 1978
Director: Richard Marquand
Stars: Katharine Ross, Sam Elliott, Roger Daltrey, John Standing, Ian Hogg, Margaret Tyzack, Charles Gray, Lee Montague, Hildegard Neil, Marianne Broome, William Abney, Patsy Smart, Mathias Kilroy, Reg Harding
Genre: Horror
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Maggie (Katharine Ross) is a designer who has been invited over to Britain by a mysterious organisation who will be offering her a huge amount of money for her services. The fact that they are so secretive raises the suspicions of her boyfriend Pete (Sam Elliott) and he warns her against getting too mixed up with them, but the allure of a holiday in an Autumnal England proves too much to resist, and soon they are both there, seeing the sights of London. It's when they venture further to the countryside, riding around the narrow lanes on their motorbike, that the unexpected occurs...

OK, maybe not that unexpected considering you've settled down to watch a horror movie, but The Legacy was very much in the thrall of two previous works that had been worldwide successes, one thriller and the other chiller. The main literary influence came from Agatha Christie, as this took the form of those films adapted as And Then There Were None, where a group of various suspects and victims assemble at the requisite mansion and see themselves whittled down one by one by an unknown murderer until the big reveal at the finale.

No such big reveal was necessary here, however, as we pretty much knew what was behind the deaths as Maggie and Pete are run off the road by billionaire John Standing's Roller, whereupon he invites them back to his place - said mansion - to find they're part of an assembly of guests there. Thing is, they're the odd ones out, or so they think, as the others are all rich and successful, some of the most powerful individuals in the world apparently, so what could Maggie and Pete possibly be doing there? You have to ask as their presence is no coincidence, as we discover over the course of the rest of it.

Which brought us to that other chief influence, which was The Omen. Yes, there were demonic practices afoot as the guests were bumped off one by one in gruesome ways, with the first a woman drowned in the swimming pool when she takes a dip thanks to the surface turning impenetrable and trapping her beneath the water. Scenes like this helped to sell the concept, credited to seasoned horror screenwriter Jimmy Sangster, except oddly they did not do much for the movie as every time the advert appeared on the television, potential punters did not go out and see it but did go out and buy John Coyne's novelisation instead. This meant Coyne became an established writer (The Exorcist-inspired The Piercing had been his initial novel), but the film was forgotten.

Back at the plot, Standing disappeared for much of it, as he is bedridden in spite of looking in the rudest of health when Maggie and Pete talked with him, and when she goes to see him at the bedside he grabs her hand and forces a ring onto her finger. On awakening (she passed out in fright), she finds she cannot remove the jewelry, an indication - hey, an "omen" if you like - that she has undertaken some kind of pact with supernatural forces. Various bits of business involving Maggie being a reincarnation, and the down to earth Pete doing his best to leave the mansion but unable to, proceed to offer us the sort of thrills you would expect, although whether they actually thrilled you was up for discussion with only the innovation of the deaths giving a reason to watch. It's not often you get to see Roger Daltrey suffering a failed tracheotomy, so there's that, but most of this was unremarkable if fairly diverting pulp. Music by Michael J. Lewis.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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