The Legacy – UK, 1978 – reviews

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‘Evil beyond Exorcism’

The Legacy is a 1978 British-American horror film directed by Richard Marquand (Jagged Edge) from a screenplay originated (but apparently much-changed) by Hammer contributor Jimmy Sangster (Curse of Frankenstein; Dracula).

Katharine Ross (The Stepford Wives; The Swarm; Donnie Darko), Sam Elliott (Frogs; Ghost Rider), John Standing (The Psychopath; Torture Garden; Nightflyers), Ian Hogg (Doctor Who), Charles Gray (The Devil Rides Out; The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Margaret Tyzack, Lee Montague (Supernatural; Jekyll & Hyde), Hildegard Neil (The Man Who Haunted Himself) and Roger Daltrey (LiztomaniaVampirella).

New release:

In the UK, Indicator is releasing a Limited Edition Blu-ray of The Legacy on 29 July 2019, with the following special features:

  • The UK theatrical cut presented open matte from a Standard Definition master (102 mins): The film was released in UK cinemas in September 1978.
  • The US theatrical cut, presented in widescreen from a High Definition master (100 mins): The film was released in the US in 1979, with a shorter runtime and some alternative shots
  • Original stereo audio
  • An Extended Legacy (2019, 11 mins): an analysis of the differences between the US and UK cuts (This is found in the Play sub-menu): There 13 instances of unique footage across the two version – 12 in the UK cut and 1 in the UK cut.
  • Audio commentary with Kevin Lyons, editor of The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film and Television website
  • An Editing Legacy (2015, 14 mins): 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 on his make-up creations for the film
  • Ashes and Crashes (2019, 4 mins): an interview with second unit director Joe Marks, who shares his memories of working with the film’s cast and crew
  • Between the Anvil and the Hammer (1973, 27 mins): Richard Marquand’s Central Office of Information short about the Liverpool police force
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Image gallery
  • Collector’s 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


Maggie Walsh (Ross) and her boyfriend Pete Danner (Elliott) are interior decorators from Los Angeles, California. They are called to England by a potential client, sight unseen. At first, they hesitate since both are already booked to do work for someone in Los Angeles.

Suddenly they get a phone call that their local customer has had a fatal accident, which seems awfully coincidental to Pete. Nonetheless, he tags along with Maggie to work for their latest client, who has prepaid Maggie’s airfare.

Arriving in England, Maggie and Pete get into a country road accident, one that involves their motorcycle and a vintage limousine belonging to Jason Mountolive (Standing), a moribund and reclusive multi-millionaire (who later turns out to be a second-generation Satanist as well). Apologizing for their unfortunate mishap, this independently wealthy Englishman invites the twosome to stay at Ravenhurst: his rambling country estate.

However, this is no setback; it was Jason himself who arranged Maggie’s trip here, ostensibly to do interior decorations for Ravenhurst. (As Maggie will ultimately discover, it was also Jason who arranged the previous mishap which killed her Los Angeles customer.)

Once installed at Ravenhurst, Maggie and Pete get acquainted with Jason’s five (eventual) beneficiaries, including “…a million-dollar prostitute, a star-maker, a nation-killer, a woman whose lust runs cold as graveyard snow…”

In other words, various European luminaries who are “beholden” to Jason for helping them with their careers… and with occasional run-ins, public scandals, et al. All five have been summoned to Ravenhurst in a fashion much like Maggie’s, because Jason is about to die; in fact, he is wasting away upstairs as they speak. Maggie is astonished to hear this; Jason seemed vigorous, almost youthful, when she and Pete first met him…



Reviews [click links to read more]:

The Legacy has all the makings of a typical 70s pedigree horror film: marquee stars (Katharine Ross and Sam Elliott), a competent director (Return of the Jedi’s Richard Marquand), and lavish production values … But, like the sprawling estate in which this film is set, looks are often deceiving and The Legacy not only becomes something incredibly difficult to recommend but, also, amazingly difficult to resist’. Dread Central

“As a horror film, it doesn’t quite work. There’s a creepy-ish scene at the end of the first act where Ross and the others first “meet” their dying host, as he talks in an unsettling whisper and briefly appears to be part monster, but otherwise the horror elements are extremely light; the death scenes often lack buildup and two of them are presented as accidents anyway. But it certainly works as a “what the hell am I watching?” slice of 70s cheese.” Horror Movie a Day


“With its themes of reincarnation, possession and telekinesis, The Legacy follows in the wake of other occult-themed films like The Omen and Suspiria. But while it’s no masterpiece, and didn’t catch the box-office alight – unlike Gray’s character, it’s still a stylish exercise in suspense with some decent special effects and another great score from Theatre of Blood composer Michael J Lewis.” Peter Fuller, Kultguy’s Keep



” … tedious thriller …” Jonathan Rigby, English Gothic



Filming locations:

Bray Studios
Hambleden, Bucks – also used for The Witches (1966) and Good Omens series
Loseley House, Guilford, Surrey


In the US, the film was distributed by Universal and took $11,364,985 at the box office.

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