THE LEGACY is the sort of film any British film fan wants to cover. It has a rich history of differing versions, well known cast and established crew, behind the scenes. Probably you like me owned a copy of the DVD version of this film (paired up wih two other British horror films BLUE BLOOD and NEITHER THE SEA OR LAND). That version looked good enough but was vanilla, bland or as the kids say clean. So when it seemed that 1979s satanic horror was getting a Powerhouse Blu Ray roll out, excitement raised. Why? Well it was Hammer legend Jimmy Sangster who wrote THE LEGACY (he didnt direct it thankfully). He was the catalyst for some of Hammer films best works. Direction duties fell to Richard Marquand (EYE OF THE NEEDLE, RETURN OF THE JEDI), making his first film. So how does it all come together?
Two American architects, Maggie Walsh (Katharine Ross) and her boyfriend Pete Danner (Sam Elliott) specialists in making things look great. They are interior decorators and have been hired by an anonymous British client to restore Ravenhurst. Originally sceptical about the plan they relent after a high profile client dies. Travelling to England, they are involved in a traffic collision with a limousine. The passenger reveals himself as their mysterious benefactor, Jason Mountolive (John Standing), who invites them to his Ravenhurst. Things become odd. Strange people live in the mansion. Stranger things seem to be housed upstairs and then other guests become victims of unexplained and increasingly violent deaths. All this leads to a staggering conclusion.
It is said that Jimmy Sangster used as his inspiration for THE LEGACY Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. I can clearly see that. As well as the supernatural stories of olde England, supernatural works of Dennis Wheatley and even the odd horror stories of the mid 70s, with stars and satan but hey. What the film does well (and both Hi Def version of the film as well) is visual. It looks AMAZING. By that I mean it looks AMAZING It looked good on DVD but on Blu Ray it is stunning. Photography by Dick Bush and Alan Hume is given beauty, dreamlike shine and a strangeness. Hume works the magic of field of view, like his best work for Hammer and Amicus (but equally inspired by his work as a camera operator on Lean’s work). Bush adds the abstract. The pairing seem to have created this wonderful work. Now however An Extended Legacy (2019, 11 mins) is in standard definition for the most part. Be warned when you are looking at the comparison of the two versions, it will leave feel weaker. Putting aside this, I have to side with what Kevin Lyons discusses in his piece. When real-life couple Katharine Ross and Sam Elliot meet on the set of THE LEGACY, it was combustable. This adds to the sexual volitility of the piece. It also makes it dynamic, sometimes delirious and often demonic. Add to this (his words not mine) a wonderfully eccentric score by Michael J Lewis, it makes for a fantastic film. On another side, the disc has a really very good film addition. Between the Anvil and the Hammer(1973, 27 mins) is director Richard Marquand film on Liverpool’s police force. I found it personal, touching, revealing (espically the beat officer who is reprimanding everyone on the street for purses on display, kids pinching and bunking off school.) The ability of a document to tell its story without narration is a powerful thing. More so if taken from the horse mouth.
INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Two presentations of the film: the US theatrical cut, presented in widescreen from a High Definition master (100 mins); the UK theatrical cut, presented open matte from a Standard Definition master
- Original stereo audio
- New and exclusive audio commentary with Kevin Lyons, editor of The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film and Television
- An Editing Legacy (2015, 14 mins): award-winning editor and second unit director Anne V Coates recalls her work on the film
- The Make-up Effects of ‘The Legacy’(2015, 11 mins): Robin Grantham discusses his specialist make-up creations for the film
- Ashes and Crashes (2019, 4 mins): interview with second unit director Joe Marks
- An Extended Legacy (2019, 11 mins): an analysis of the differences between the US and UK cuts
- Between the Anvil and the Hammer(1973, 27 mins): The Legacy director Richard Marquand’s acclaimed documentary short film, made for the Central Office of Information, about the Liverpool police force
- Original theatrical trailer
- Image gallery: promotional and publicity material
- Limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet with a new essay by Julian Upton, an archival location report, Jimmy Sangster on The Legacy, extracts from the novelisation, an overview of critical responses, an introduction to Between the Anvil and the Hammer, and film credits
- UK premiere on Blu-ray
- Limited edition of 3,000 copies