3/27/08

CT004 Legacy of Blood

(1961, Horror, color-ish)

Rating: ***

The house that plot forgot.

In a nutshell:

A family of psychos must spend a week together to inherit their father’s fortune.

Summary:

Talk about your novelty glasses.“Dead!” a lawyer announces after an eccentric millionaire’s funeral. He then outlines the terms of the will—in order to inherit an equal share of his money, his four adult children must spend the next week cloistered together in his estate. As night falls, Relatively Normal Oldest Brother (RNOB) searches for his dog, which has sensed something wrong and run outside to investigate. The dog unsurprisingly becomes compost shortly thereafter.

A cadaverous sheriff in hilariously low-budget squad car arrives to assess the situation. A great deal of painfully boring exposition later, he leaves again, having discovered absolutely nothing of value. He stops just outside the gate to investigate an abandoned car. Someone offscreen caves his head in with an axe.

A little while later, Vaguely Sleazy Second-Oldest Sister (VSSOS) trades innuendo with her little sister’s Handsome Doctor Husband (HDH) while they forage in the refrigerator for some ham. Imagine their surprise when they lift the tinfoil to find, not ham, but the sheriff’s bloody head. Panic ensues, and they discover that the phones are dead and the cars have been sabotaged. They decide to go to bed and send someone for help in the morning.

At this point, RNOB wraps his arm tenderly around his wife and leans over to turn off the lamp, which has been rigged to electrocute both of them to death. The survivors run madly about, accusing one another. Well, except for Dangerously Unstable Penultimate Brother (DUPB) and Incredibly Nutty Littlest Sister (INLS), who used to have an incestuous relationship. They pine for one another and almost consummate, but DUPB breaks it off when he runs screaming down the hallway and into the basement. An offscreen figure drowns him in a fish tank.

Ah, but how do you know that the time-sink, carpal tunnel-inducing qualities of the K.I.S.S. pinball machine isn't just a slower, more painful death?INLS wanders after him in a valium-induced haze, sees her brother’s skeletonized remains (decorative gouramis can apparently strip the flesh from your bones in mere minutes) and runs distraught into the night. Moments later, someone puts a bullet between her eyes with the sheriff’s gun. HDH finds her shortly thereafter, and stupidly picks up the gun lying nearby.

This is the position Bloodthirsty Veteran Chauffeur (BVC) finds him in moments later. Convinced they’ve found their killer, the others tie HDH to a chair and lock him in a bare closet. While VSSOS and BVC comfort one another, an unseen figure unlocks the closet and throws in an open jar of killer bees. VSSOS and BVC follow the screams back to HDH’s swollen corpse, and then hurry to follow the retreating shadow. They corner it in the wine cellar and—surprise!—it’s Eccentric Millionaire Dad (an elderly John Carradine) who declares that he faked his own death to rid himself of his despised progeny. Then a heavy shelf of wine barrels tips over, crushing all three of them to death.

The two remaining servants, Muscle-Bound Mel Brooks Impersonator (MBMBI) and Pinch-Faced Schoolmarm (PFS), emerge from behind the shelf. MBMBI declares himself the new master of the house and demands that PFS bring him milk and cookies. PFS poisons his cookie, and plays MBMBI a soothing tune on the piano while he chokes and dies. PFS closes the film with a wink to the camera while goofy clown music plays through the ending credits.

Thoughts:

Theirs was a forbidden and rather icky love.Unbearably paced, poorly recorded and photographed, nonsensically written and hilariously overacted—and these are the film’s good points. The omnipresent loathing and the nauseating incest—these are what make Legacy of Blood a film no right-minded person would touch without a surgical mask, antiseptic gloves, and a thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot pole. And then at the end we discover it was really a screwball farce! Excuse me while I vomit on my keyboard.

Huuaaauuuurrrrrrggggghhhh!

Now I’m typing through a foul-smelling slurry of half-digested black beans, an unpleasant scenario that is still vastly preferable to watching Legacy of Blood. And yet you’ll notice that I still gave this episode of Cinematic Titanic three stars. That’s because it features the best riffing of any other episode thus far. There are so many good lines that I filled up three pages with quotes. A representative sample: After the reading of the will, “Dad was watching too much Scooby Doo before he died” (Mary Jo); “I think hate is finally going to bring this family together” (Joel); regarding the Incredibly Nutty Littlest Sister, “I’m even sure she’d be that attractive if she were sane,” (Frank); after Carradine puts a bullet between INLS’s eyes, “You can actually hear the air escaping from her head,” (Trace); and after the horrifyingly upbeat ending, “That wink just sent a chill down my spin in a way that this movie never achieved,” (J. Elvis).

Also notable are the two relatively brief times they stop the film. First, when commandos break in to take Frank’s gum. (J. Elvis to the commandos: “We’re against the gum policy, but we still support you guys”.) Second, when Trace stops the action after the lamp-induced deaths to host a game show called “Which Thing Won’t Kill You?” Contestant J. Elvis eschews the badly wired lamp and the animate suit of armor to correctly choose the K.I.S.S. pinball machine.

More than any of their previous releases, this episode makes me wish for better film selection on the part of the Cinematic Titanic crew. There are rewards—desperately funny rewards, in fact—for watching their take on Legacy of Blood. To get to them, you unfortunately have to wade through buckets of soul-staining filth. Guys, I know there’s a lot of overlap between bad movies and icky movies, but they’re not necessarily the same thing. I’ve seen lots of bad movies that were relatively fun, and even a few icky movies that were well-made. I really wish you’d choose more of the former.