I've been in the mood for 70's horror lately. It doesn't get much more "70's" than 1978's The Legacy, a supernatural conjuration starring Katharine Ross and Sam Elliott. The docile opening credits are backed by some Roberta Flack-sounding bitch warbling about love. And yes, I'm fairly confident that the chanteuse prefers to be called a Roberta Flack-sounding bitch. Despite a schmaltzy intro, we eventually wade into darker waters. An architect couple (Ross and Elliott) winds up at a stately manor in England after crashing their motorcycle. What should have been a cumbersome inconvenience of an afternoon turns into a harrowing weekend laden with shapeshifting nurses, otherworldly chicken bones and winding roads that all lead to the same destination.
The Legacy wears its influences on its sleeve, and while it may not converge on the status of its forebears (The Omen, Rosemary's Baby, et. al.), I enjoyed it quite a bit. It's worth repeating that I was craving a stoic, subdued genre film. This decade took itself seriously. I admire that, even if a considerable portion of its output was...wacky? Getting back to the topic at hand, the screenplay was written by sedulous Hammer scribe Jimmy Sangster. I'm a fan of his stuff, and I could tell that he was responsible for the script. The characters are grounded. Well, they're as grounded as they can be in melodramatic fright fare from the 70's. As per usual, Sam Elliot's moustache steals the screen. I'm as straight as the steel rod fused to my spine, but look, this is Wade from Roadhouse.
I'm just saying...oh, forget it. You wouldn't understand. Hold me, Sam. Hold me. Um, right. I don't know how to comment on the storyline without divulging pivotal spoilers. Most of you probably don't care, but The Legacy's merit is predicated on a mystery that unravels at a scrupulous clip. I found it to be rather interesting myself. Granted, there are loose ends. The ending didn't answer my every question. Hell, it neglected the majority of my questions, but I didn't need the details spoonfed to me via...a spoon. It did take awhile for the plot to gain traction. If you're not patient enough to imbibe a slow burn, I would suggest renting a more reckless vehicle.
The Legacy didn't fellate my socks off, but as I riffle my checklist (what, you don't have a checklist?), I don't see many negative annotations. Acting? Well-rounded. Special effects? Uneven, but it's 1978. Editing and camera angles/movements? Second to none. Director Richard Marquand guides the action with steady fingers. Apparently, he helmed a sci-fi spectacle entitled Return of the Jedi. Intriguing. Gore? Eh, it's not that kind of creepshow. Overall, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend The Legacy to 70's horror disciples. By the way, fuck Netflix. How hard is it to check a disc for scratches before mailing it? They're lucky that I'm still giving them business. "Hey, let's raise our prices as our selection is dwindling!" Sorry for the tangent.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 11:58 PM