Maggie Walsh (Katherine Ross, The Stepford Wives and The Swarm) and Pete Danner (a really young Sam Elliott, Mask and The Big Lebowski) get a strange call for their interior decorating business. They are to go to England for an anonymous client, but they have misgivings about leaving Los Angeles. Those go away when the client dies, leaving behind pre-paid airfare.
They’re in England for all of a spot of tea when they are almost killed by a limousine carrying Jason Mountolive, who takes them to his gigantic home called Ravenhurst.
I love this description of the people Maggie and Pete meet at Ravenhurst — “A millionaire, a million-dollar prostitute, a star-maker, a nation-killer, a woman whose lusts are as cold as graveyard snow.” They’re all the beneficiaries of his estate, there to decide who will get what when the old man dies.
Maggie is shocked, because as far as she knows, Mountolive was just alive. Everyone is summoned to his bedroom, filled with sterile walls and a life support system. You can’t see the old man any longer — but a gnarled hand reaches out and gives Maggie the Mountolive ring — one she can’t take off and one everyone else is already wearing.
All manner of accidents and deaths befall the cast members. Pete is nearly killed by a scalding shower (and if you like Sam Elliot, your pulse will be inflamed by this scene). Maria, a swimmer, drowns. Clive (Roger Daltry from The Who), a music mogul, dies from a combination of choking and a gory tracheotomy. Karl (Charles Gray, Diamonds Are Forever, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Devil Rides Out) dies in an awesome scene when a spark from a fireplace ignites him, sending him curled up and burnt black. Barbara is killed by an exploding mirror. And Jacques tries to kill Maggie and Pete, thinking they are behind it all, but his gun blows up in his face and he falls to his death.
A series of clippings reveals that each of the guests had been implicated in a scandal or crime, but Mountolive saved them. He comes from a long line of devil worshippers. In fact, his parents were burned at the stake!
Maggie is Mountolive’s great-granddaughter, so she meets with the dying man, who reveals that he killed the others as a sacrifice to Satan so that she can get his powers. Then, she will have six heirs when her time is up. Pete tries to stop her, but it is too late. The staff have all bowed to her and she is now the new owner of Ravenhurst and all of the powers that come with it.
She gives Pete a ring that bonds itself to his finger as her first heir and tells him that it’s time to do anything she wants.
Director Richard Marquand (Return of the Jedi) alternates here between breezy romance, ala Hart to Hart, and gory spectacle. It’s a strange blend but it’s rather enjoyable.
Plus, it has an opening song, “Another Side of Me” (performed by Kiki Dee) that is so late 70’s, it should give you cocaine while you listen to it.