Legacy of Blood (1971)
But Honey, why would the sheriff’s head end up in the refrigerator?
This movie is not Citizen Kane, but I am tossing it out there to have some fun. I’m also curious if anyone else plays IMBd death pool. This is one of those reading-of-the-will movies where the children gather to honor their much disliked father. The dead patriarch is played by John Carradine who is in late-career form for this one—lots of leering and weird smirks. It also features some nice acting from Ivy Bethune as Elga the maid; Brooke Mills as the neurotic nympho, drug addict daughter; Buck Kartalian as the creepy butler (suitably named Igor); Richard Davlos as the playboy younger son; Jeff Morrow as the hip older son; and particularly good performances by the Faith Domergue in one of her last roles along with western star John Russel who plays the chauffer who sports a luger and has a lampshade made from a German soldier. The violence is composed of PG13 style decapitations and the occasional body ending up in the fish tank. Think of this film as an episode of Game of Thrones, only the CGI fight scenes are replaced by dialogue and character development.
While this move is not high on the scale of artistic achievement, it was one of those late night classics that made the rounds of local TV stations in the 70s. A little too hardcore for primetime, stations would air it after midnight when the TV police had gone to bed. With that being said, if you like last-person-standing types of movies, this one weathers the test of time. Some of the major themes are greed, incest, and sadomasochism. It fits the bill for SNBC because it contains important lessons for those with troubled pasts: Don’t ever go home. Those people are crazy.
As an aside, this movie had me wondering if anyone else watches old movies, then scans the IMBd listings to see who’s still alive. This one features only two members of the original cast still listed among the living: Ivy Bethune, who currently resides in Sevastopol, and Brooke Mills. Obviously, I wish both of these lovely women long and happy lives, but it makes me wonder what it might be like to be the last person left alive of a movie cast. Death performs a weird arc in the lives of some people. Generally speaking, the older you get, the closer death creeps toward you as more and more people you know succumb. I know some folks that are so old, they’re almost running out of friends. So what is it like to be the last person left alive on a list like this one? What does it feel like to attend a class reunion of two? Or one for that matter? Is it a feeling of accomplishment, or are you just thinking, “Shit, can we just get this over with?”
These morbid ruminations aside, I would like the recommend this film to those who want to enjoy some decently-written horror and maybe have a few laughs along the way. All of the actors are skilled, though toward the end of their careers. That means plenty of overacting. There is some clunky dialogue and a few clutzy moments around the pool table and dart board. But the cast are professionals, doing their job right down to the final gun. It’s a good one to watch with a small group, provided that the participants are cool. You want to be in an upbeat mood for this one. There are no buzzkills. But it provides a suitably dark portrait of the human spirit. Just pick your horse and enjoy the ride.
Rating: 2 Hits