A millionaire and a million-dollar prostitute, a star-maker and a nation-killer, a woman whose lusts are as cold as graveyard snow…Five of the most powerful people in the world, gathered in an ancient mansion to inherit a Legacy of bloodsome horror. And Maggie makes six.
Initially, I was intrigued by this 1978 film directed by Richard Marquand and starring Katharine Ross and Sam Elliott, two exceptional actors in their own right. However, when the opening soundtrack came on, my excitement seemed to lose some of its luster as the music appeared to be considerably popish and certainly not something from a horror movie. Then the scenes began and the film took on the appearance of a love story. Now Iβm really beginning to wonder.
Margaret Walsh (Katharine Ross) is offered a fifty thousand dollar interior design job in England and pleads with her boyfriend Pete Danner (Sam Elliott) to accompany her. Little does she know that she will be joined by five of the most powerful witchy people in the world?
After arriving, the two go for a motorcycle joyride to explore the English countryside. While rounding a turn they are accidently (or maybe it wasnβt) run off the road by a Rolls Royce and end up taking a spill in the wooded area off the roadβs edge. The car stops and Jason Mountolive (John Standing) comes to their aid. Neither is harmed, but the bike is badly bruised and he insists that the two come to his home for tea while he has their bike repaired by a mechanic he knows in town. The two accept the offer and are in awe as they pull up to a massive home, probably better suited for royalty.
They are given a room by Nurse Adams, an odd, unable to place her actual motivation type of character, and both Margaret and Pete find it weird since they were only planning to have a cup of tea.
Soon after, the five show up as a helicopter drops them off on the front lawn. All seem rather normal, but also eccentric and quirky. Along with a couple of them are their dates, abet, uninvited ones much like Pete.
Before long, people begin eerily dying off. One, a competitive swimmer, drowns in an Olympic sized swimming pool when a sheet of glass below the waterline keeps the swimmer from surfacing. Yet another chokes to death on a chicken bone, but didnβt have the chicken for dinner.
Margaret is asked to accompany Nurse Adams alone to a meeting with the five in which Jason Mountolive intends to select one to pass on the secret legacy. Of course, Margaret is selected and he slides an oversized silver ring onto her finger indicating so.
That evening she tries desperately to remove the ring to no avail. Meanwhile, Pete has noticed the strangeness of the place too and they decided to leave. Attempts to physically stop them prove futile and the two jump in the unattended Rolls Royce to make their getaway. Road after county road they take, only to end up back where they began, in front of the home. Eventually, Margaret succumbs and gives in realizing that the two are never going to get away.
Overall, the film has a great premise and very gothic overtones. I had never saw Roger Daltrey from The Who appear in any film other than Tommy and he did play the part well. While the outdoor scene settings are certainly beautiful, it canβt save this film that struggles trying to come off as a horror film, but barely scratches the supernatural surface. A serious attempt at creepiness is maintained, but never coming full circle as the upbeat soundtrack yanks it all away. Had the soundtrack been one of dark and mysterious tones and melodies, this film would have fared considerable better, but in the end probably wouldnβt have been enough to save it either. None-the-less, itβs very Agatha Christieish, only wrought with sizable plot holes and even mystery lovers might have a tough time appreciating it.
The Legacy (1978)