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Legacy of Blood 

a/k/a Blood Legacy

Part Two of Bad Blood Month

     "And I'll bet you thought it was the butler all along."

--  The Killer   




Gonzoid Cinema




"Give us a kiss, sis."

Gah! What are these people? Jedis?


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Sights &
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  Carl Monson
  Carl Monson
  Eric Norden
  Carl Monson
  Ben Rombouts
 Ellman Film

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The Films
of Carl Munson
& Eric Norden.

The Acid Eaters

Legacy of Blood

Booby Trap

A Scream in the Streets

Please Don't Eat My Mother

Savage Harbor


When the Dean family clan reunites to bury their father, Christopher (John Carradine), it's safe to say that it took this death and the opportunity to bury their domineering and overbearing (-- and, soon to be revealed, completely psychotic --) father as the only thing that would bring all these estranged siblings back together. There is no love lost here, but greed has brought them all back to face each other one last time. 

After the graveyard service concludes, where all they did was stop just short of urinating on the old man's grave, the ensemble quickly reassembles at the ancestral mansion for the reading of the will: eldest son Gregory (Jeff Morrow), and his wife, Laura (Merry Anders); eldest daughter, Victoria (Faith Domergue); younger son, Johnny (Richard Davalos); and rounding out the Deans is the youngest daughter, Leslie (Brooke Mills), who is under the care of her psychiatrist/boyfriend, or maybe husband, Carl Isenburg (John Smith). Once everyone is settled, via a recorded will, the elder Dean speaks from beyond the grave and chastises his heirs for only bringing him shame and humiliation. Then, with that preamble out of the way, Christopher gets down to business. First, he makes a stipulation that one million dollars, each, be set aside to pay the salaries of the hired help for the continued upkeep of the estate. This includes Igor (Buck Cartalian), the butler, his wife, Elga (Ivy Bethune), the housekeeper, and Frank Mantee (John Russell), the chauffer and groundskeeper. Next, as all his children exchange venomous glances at each other, the deceased reveals the remaining inheritance, some $136 million, will be split among them equally. But! There's a catch, and it's a big one: seems they all must stay at the mansion and live together for one whole week or forfeit their share. And, if something should "happen" -- like one of them, say, dies!, the money will then be split among those who are left standing at the end of the week. 

You do the math. (Now where's that axe?) And despite several protests the family lawyer assures them all that the will and all of its stipulations are uncontestable, meaning they're stuck, and meaning the tyrannical Christopher Dean gets to have his way and pull their strings one last time. But, seriously, how hard could it be? A week isn't that long; no matter how much you dislike your siblings. Especially for the kind of money we're talking about, right? However. When you factor in all the family skeletons that are about to come a-tumblin' out of the closet, the brewing psychosis of our players (-- as about half the people cooped up in the house are stark-raving certifiable), and the fact that everyone is already conspiring, plotting, and playing one against another, a week's stay might as well be a year ... One week. That's all they have to do for a sizeable chunk of change. But by the time the first night ends, come the dawn, only one of them will be left alive...

Back in 1971 producer Ben Rombouts wanted to make a movie. But, like a lot of other people who wanted to make a movie, he lacked the proper financing. Then, fate stepped in ... Involved in a horrible auto-accident, Rombouts spent a lengthy stay in a hospital recuperating in a full body cast. But it paid off in the end because, during his stay, Rombouts convinced several of his doctors into backing his film; a morbid murder mystery in the mansion thriller called Blood Legacy.

With his financing secured, when pre-production commenced the project was soon blessed with an outstanding set piece: the Van Valkenburg estate. Rombouts' movie was the first to film inside this expansive, Pasadena mansion, but it's the exterior of the main house that might look a little familiar to you. Yeah, it was used for the establishing shots of stately Wayne Manor in the old Batman TV show. Unfortunately, the set will prove to be the most interesting part of the whole shittery. Rombouts then turned the reins over to a director whose only credit at the time was The Acid Eaters, and a screenwriter who wrote mainly westerns for TV. And this noxious concoction was already curdling before the cameras even rolled. Don't believe me? Read on...

As the first day progresses into night there are many, less than subtle hints that something terribly icky happened between Johnny and Leslie when they were kids. And if you're guessing incest, you win a cookie. (Now get your mind out of the gutter.) This explains why Carl insists that Leslie stay secluded in her room, and far away from Johnny, despite her insistence on seeing him. And while Leslie is plagued/aroused by strange and intimate dreams about her brother, Johnny, still smitten after all these years, tries to get a grip on this unhealthy obsession, among other issues. Doing his best William Shatner impersonation he rants at a large portrait of his dead father and flashes back to the past, where things get pretty surreal as Johnny recalls several secret rendezvous with Leslie, only to be ratted out by either Gregory or Victoria. But no matter what the crime or who did the deed, no one escaped Christopher's wrath or punishment. Said punishment being forty whacks with his wooden cane across the backside. And then Johnny's delusions veer into Felini territory when Gregory is about to get his and Igor jumps on top of him, taking the blows for him -- and Igor seems to like it!

So, while Johnny raves on and on, and on, andonandonandonandon, elsewhere, Igor fondles that very cane. When Elga tells him to throw the infernal thing away, Igor adamantly refuses -- and even insists that his wife routinely beat him with it in the future. Wow. Moving on, down in the game room -- with the highly noticeable-n-ginormous aquarium that's teeming with Piranha lurking in the background -- the flirty Victoria runs hot and cold with pompous Carl and the even surlier Frank. Seeking any advantage she can take, Victoria makes both men, who can't read her signals right, very confused. Then, things start to turn from just plain sick to sinister when Gregory and Laura's dog gets loose and runs outside, where, after hearing a lethal yelp, they find the animal, dead, floating in the gold fish pond.

The dog homicide brings a visit from the local Sheriff (Rodolfo Acosta). But when his search of the grounds turns up nothing, having wasted enough time on the kooky Dean family, and probably wanting nothing else to do with this movie, he leaves -- only to find the road out blocked by another car. Getting out to investigate, the Sheriff promptly takes several axe blows to the head from an unseen assailant ... Meanwhile, back at the mansion, Johnny's paranoia grows deeper; Leslie's acting hasn't gotten any better; Laura fingers whom she thinks killed her dog; and Victoria and Carl decide to raid the refrigerator, together, and find some leftover ham wrapped in tinfoil. And before you can say "Boy that tinfoil ball looks about the same size as a human head" they peel it off, revealing, sure enough, the Sheriff's dismembered head! After this grisly discovery, a quick check finds the phone dead and the distributor caps removed from all the cars; combine it all together and the resulting fear and paranoia prevents anyone from being allowed to go for help until the light of morning, some eight hours away.

Tension mounts as we creep past the midnight hour, and then the inheritance shares start to grow substantially as the first family members start biting the dust at the hands of our mystery killer; namely Gregory and Laura, who die in bed, electrocuted by a booby-trapped lamp. Suspicions run rampant as Igor and Frank move the bodies into the garage, and things kick up a notch when Carl and Johnny finally come to blows because, well, Johnny brags that he had Leslie first.

And you have no idea how disturbing it was to type that statement, let alone watch it on screen. Dude! That's your sister!

After everyone decides that the best course of action is to retreat to their own, defendable corners in the large house, Victoria leaves hers and sneaks into Frank's room, where she marvels at the old lamp he made out of the Nazi who tried to kill him back in the war. (The skull is the base and the skin is the lampshade.) Yeah, lot's of nice folks in this house. Meantime, in another corner of the house, Leslie tries to tell Carl about the latest dream she's had about Johnny; something about being buried in a long, dark tunnel, but she can hear Johnny coming through the rocks to get at her. And I find it doubly disturbing about how much this dream excites and arouses Leslie (-- especially that "coming" part. Gah.). With that pathetic display, Carl can't takes no more and leaves her alone, allowing Johnny to sneak and *ahem* rekindle their relationship...





Alas, the movie isn't listening. But! As the siblings embrace and try to kiss this triggers another flashback for Johnny, who remembers dear old Pop's total freak out when he caught them the first time. Overwhelmed by this vision, Johnny quickly retreats, screaming all the way, and doesn't notice that a shadow holding an axe is following him. Whoever's casting that silhouette finally catches up to Johnny in the game room near that big old tank of man-eating fish ... Back in the bedroom, the jilted Leslie hears someone calling her name. Following the beckoning voice down into the game room, she enters and finds Johnny's submerged corpse being consumed by the piranha!

Leslie's hysterical screams alerts the others, who follow her panicked cries outside, where she fled. Too late, though, as Leslie spies the killer following her, who soon has her cornered near the grotto. Then, a shot rings out, and if the shooter was aiming for right between her eyes, their aim was a little off -- but effective enough. Carl finds the body and the discarded revolver first . Unwisely, he picks up the gun just in time for the others to catch up and find him standing over the corpse with the still smoking murder weapon in his hand. That's enough evidence for Frank, who convinces the others that Carl is the killer (-- even though there is no way for Carl to benefit financially); and the clincher is Johnny's now skeletal remains in the aquarium. Obviously, Frank insists, Carl killed them both in a jealous rage.

Despite all protests of innocence Carl is tied to chair in the cellar for safekeeping. And while Frank leaves to go and make a lamp out of what's left of Johnny and Leslie (-- okay, I made that last part up), Victoria lingers behind and starts to come around to his side when Carl begs her to lock the door so he won't be completely helpless against the real killer. Later, when Victoria pleads Carl's case with Frank we slowly realize she's the only Dean left alive -- and did I forgot to mention if none of the heirs make it all the money goes to the hired help? Apparently, Frank and Victoria used to have a thing back in the day, too, but she wouldn't consummate it because, well, he was just the chauffer. Now, their romantic rekindling is interrupted by several buzzing bees. Bees? Really? Bees. Well, ya see, the killer -- who we now know can't be Victoria or Frank, is busting a bee hive open inside the cellar. Inside, Carl screams as the bees attack, and by the time the others arrive and break down the door Carl's face is swollen and pockmarked with bee stings. Lethal bee stings, I guess. Whatever. The two survivors then spy another figure fleeing into the shadows and chase him into the wine cellar, where they finally corner the killer.

So, you're thinking to yourself, they caught Igor, right? Wrong. The man they catch is none other than Christopher Dean! Who -- not so miraculously -- isn't quite as dead as they thought. Apparently, according to the raving old coot, they buried an empty casket. Seems he knew it would take his funeral to bring them all back together so he could put them out of his misery en masse. None of them were really his children, anyway, he rants, and he admits to killing their mother for these alleged infidelities. But, before he can expound any further the nearest wine rack, loaded with several large barrels, teeters and then crashes down on top of the trio, crushing them all to death. And who did the pushing? Why Igor and Elga, of course, who had enough of all of them. (And I probably would have helped them push if they'd asked.)  

Retiring to the kitchen, Igor admits that he knew Christopher was alive all along. Seems he had made a deal with his cousin, the undertaker, to do something to the body before they buried the old man. (And the way he's looking at the wooden cane makes me shudder as to think about what he was probably going to do.) But wait? you say. You said, come the dawn, only one person survived the night. Yeah, well, all that new found wealth went straight to Igor's head so his wife took the liberty of poisoning those cookies he's eating.

And here you thought the butler finally did it. 

The End

Who wrote this crap?

Well, that would be Carl Munson and Eric Norden; a tandem act that would flame out the next year with the slightly more enjoyable, and slightly pornographic, Little Shop of Horrors knock-off of, Please Don't Eat My Mother. Their inspiration for this film, however, can be drawn from any number of country cottage murder mysteries. And that's what this whole movie comes across as: a bad stage production of Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians a/k/a And Then There Were None that's captured on film by the local High School A/V club. In front of the camera, though buoyed by a cast of genre veterans -- Carradine, Morrow, Anders and Domergue, who all struggle mightily to keep the production anchored -- the whole thing is eventually cast adrift by the wooden performances of Smith and Russell, and taking on water with Davalos' less than subtle performance, before being completely scuttled by the embarrassing attempts at acting put on by Brook Mills. Seriously. She is something to truly behold. And if I could go back in time and offer one piece of friendly advice to Ms. Mills -- Stop acting with your tits!

According to an interview with Anders in Tom Weaver's Double Feature Creature Attack, she states that the cast got together and rehearsed the film like a play for six weeks before the cameras rolled. Now, you might immediately think that they didn't rehearse enough but I believe the opposite is true. I think the whole production seems over-rehearsed, and what's caught on film looks like the 645th run through. Everything seems stale, tired and stagnant. So the bad -- and now boring -- dialogue is rushed while the actors overcompensate for this by over-emoting those lines and it totally backfires and blows up in their faces.

As a point of fact: Legacy of Blood was the original inspiration for Bad Blood Month. I had envisioned a cadre of films with twisted family issues that were usually punctuated with murder and mayhem. Now that's good therapy, am I right? Somehow I veered off course, though, and focused mainly on the gruesome aspects of the collected films. But in my defense that's mostly due to the fact that this was the only front where these films delivered the goods. Legacy of Blood pulls this off, too, especially that scene with Johnny's body in the aquarium where the fish are nibbling on his head, making this film another stepping stone from the old school spooks to the grisly and graphic shocks of modern horror films. We're starting to linger a little longer while looking at the deadly carnage, and the reasons behind it are getting a little more twisted.

And you can't get much more twisted than the Dean clan. Murder, incest, and madness, combined with some fascinating set-pieces and several, morbid and sickening twists, should result in a more ghoulish tale but the cast, as a whole, ultimately sinks it.

Want More Bad Blood? Click Here!

Originally Posted: 08/06/04 :: Rehashed:  06/15/10

Knuckled-out by Chad Plambeck: misspeller of words, butcher of all things grammatical, and king of the run on sentence. Copy and paste at your own legal risk. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an e-mail.
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