Richard Marquand (Cardiff, Great Britain, September 22, 1937 – Tunbridge Wells, Great Britain, September 4, 1987) was one of the most representative directors of the 80’s. He died prematurely at the age of 49 due to a cerebrovascular infarction, he was responsible to direct one of the best installments of the ‘Star Wars’ saga, ‘Return of the Jedi’. George Lucas called him for the job because he had been fascinated by a previous Marquand film, ‘The Eye of the Needle’ (1981). But Marquard made his directorial debut, with a terrifying movie, ‘The legacy’.
Marquand studied between London, the University of Marseille, in France, and King’s College, Cambridge. His professional beginnings were within the entertainment world, writing and directing television shows. But his goal was on the big screen. And after two television series and two short documentaries, he decided to take the plunge. His debut came with a horror film, a genre that he would never play again in his career.
For this he resorted to a terrifying fantastic short story of Jimmy Sangster about a couple living happily in a mansion in England. But, during a vacation in a cottage with some friends, A diabolical curse will make a dent in their lives and little by little they will discover that each of their guests is killed. The producers, British and American, since the film is planned as a co-production between both countries, commissioned the screenwriters Jimmy Sangster, Patrick Tilley and Paul Wheeler to turn it into a script that is not too expensive to shoot, and commissioned Marquard the direction.
The filmmaker, using the Hammer horror films that had triumphed fifteen years earlier as a reference, seeks a strong cast: Katharine Ross, Sam Elliott, John Standing and Roger Daltrey (the leader of the group ‘The Who’) as protagonists. Ross and Elliott fell in love during filming and today they are still a happy couple. The plot shows how the American Maggie (Katharine Ross), an interior decorator in Los Angeles, is offered a job in England and decides to go with her boyfriend Pete (Sam Elliott) to try her luck there. Upon arrival they suffer a traffic accident with a limousine. The passenger reveals himself to be their mysterious benefactor, Jason Mountolive, who invites them to his mansion. They arrive to discover that Mountolive has also invited the five beneficiaries of his estate, all public figures of notorious reputation.
Filming begins on January 16, 1978 in different locations in Hambleden and in the interior of Guildford (England), without great news, except for the progressive infatuation increasingly evident between Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross, which benefited the film. The wedding would take place once the filming was finished, and both would share shots in other films.
The film, which had cost two and a half million dollars, opens in England on September 1, 1978 and becomes an unexpected success, grossing more than 11 million dollars. It arrives in Spanish cinemas on March 23, 1979, and also obtains good box office results. Richard Marquand would never direct a horror movie again.