Step inside a vacation house of horror in this terrifying thriller that "does for summer homes whatJaws did for a dip in the surf" (The New York Times)! Starring Karen Black, Oliver Reed, Burgess Meredith and Bette Davis, ... more »this riveting haunted-house chiller delivers "hidden terrors [that] mount creepily as the film builds to a climax of pulverizing fright" (Rex Reed)! Marian (Black) and Ben (Reed) find it hard to believe that for only $900 they've rented a sprawling old country mansion for the entire summer. But as they settle into their isolated estate with their son and Ben's aunt (Davis), they find themselves surrounded by a living presencean evil, hypnotic, occult forcethat feeds on torture, fear and murder.« less
...a '70s flick from Dan Curtis (of TV's "Dark Shadows" fame), in which a family rents a creepy old house for the summer and then slowly (VERY slowly) become affected by the place (and by the mysterious old lady who supposedly lives upstairs, but is never seen) in various disturbing ways.
Atmospheric but ultimately pretty dull flick that is kinda like a lower watt, less intense version of "The Shining," which came along a couple of years after this.
It seems to have a bit of a cult classic status, but I guess said "cult" is made up of people who first saw it as kids. I could see how it would've been a bit scarier if I'd seen it when I was younger (and therefore was not as much of a jaded schmuck...).
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Brian L. (Bridad) from DRAPER, UT Reviewed on 6/1/2009...
Burnt Offerings showcases fantastic acting amidst the terrifying backdrop of a haunted estate, complete with creepy gardens and a malevolent swimming pool. Oliver Reed and Karen Black are really on their game in this stylish horror film. The plot is slow-moving, but creeps up on viewers in a manner that is disturbing and real. The “in-your-face” horror films of today would benefit from watching this film for reference. If you are looking for the Rob Zombie/Saw torture-porn of recent days, then you will be disappointed. But if you prefer the unsettling, intellectual horror of Amityville or the Shining, then you might also enjoy Burnt Offerings.
4 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Chrissy B. from HICKSVILLE, NY Reviewed on 2/23/2008...
This movie is a true horror classic. Karen Black was perfect in her role.
4 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Evil Has a New Home
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 02/16/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Who's up for a truly creepy haunted house thriller? In 1976, director Dan Curtis, Dark Shadows (1966) and Trilogy of Terror (1975) brought to life a wonderfully scary movie that scarred quite a few younger viewers at the time and still has the power to evoke strong remembrances when mentioned.Burnt Offerings (1976) stars Karen Black, Oliver Reed, Bette Davis, and Burgess Meredith. City dwellers Marian (Black) and Ben (Reed) Rolf find the deal of a lifetime in a fabulous, secluded country estate, and soon settle in, along with their son and old auntie (Davis). A deal too good to be true? Why yes, it is, as strange things start happening, but not so strange as to send up serious warning flags that would cause most any of us to flee. What was so great about this movie was the way the director took his time in ratcheting up the suspense for the viewer. Changes to the various characters were introduced in such as way as to seem subtle, and not highly alarming. Soon some of the characters do catch on, but by then, it's too late. I thought Reed was really great in this movie, a man haunted by a past demon amplified through the house, who manages to keep a fairly level head throughout. Another wonderful character in the movie is the house itself. Dunsmuir Estate is the setting for most of the movie, actually coming to life through skillful directing and some very creepy music. This is an actual home, located in Oakland, California.The movie runs just under two hours, but the time will seem to go by quickly as you will find yourself gorilla glued to the screen, waiting in anticipation as to what happens next. There is a noticeable lack of blood, as the scares are more of the psychological kind. This seems to be a tactic used not so much these days, as visceral sells, but I do enjoy when the violence can be implied, rather than shown. I find my imagination is able to come up with plenty of scary images given the right fuel. The main problem I had with the movie was the picture. The movie on the disc appears in that sort of diffused style common in the 70's, where everything seems to have a slight fuzz on it, a haze throughout the picture. I did get used to it after awhile, but it was a little annoying. I don't seem to recall it being like this when I first saw the movie so long ago, but oh well. Another problem, a minor one, was some of the audio was unclear, as it seemed the audio levels were uneven at times. There are English subtitles, and I made use of them. As far as special features go, there is a commentary track by director Curtis, Karen Black and Co-writer William F. Nolan and an original theatrical trailer which I would avoid watching until after watching the film as it gave too much away, in my opinion. I will tall you this, the end truly a climatic one, and well worth the wait. If you liked Burnt Offerings, I would highly recommend the 1963 Robert Wise film, The Haunting.Cookieman108"
On DVD at last!
Tony R. Tucker | Crewe, VA United States | 07/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Directed by Dan Curtis (TV's Dark Shadows), BURNT OFFERINGS tells the story of the Rolf family who, one summer, rent a huge house to get away from it all. The home is owned by the Alerdyce (sp) family, an eccentric bunch including Burgess Meredith. The Rolf family is overjoyed, despite having to do amazing amounts of yard work (some vacation) and taking care of the elderly matriarch of the Alerdyce family who lives in the attic and whom no one ever sees. No one except Mrs. Rolf played by Karen Black.The house begins to repair itself and other weird things begin to happen. Sanity if questioned, bonds are broken, trust is shattered, and soon death arrives in the form of a ghostly hearse and it's pale driver...possibly one of the creepiest characters ever to grace your television screen.I am not sure if this movie was made for television, but that's where I first saw it. Later when I saw it on video, it appeared to be the exact version I saw. I cannot credit the cast of this movie enough. All were excellent, even the young boy. Bette Davis and Oliver Reed do excellent work, but the standout has to be Karen Black. Move over Scream Queens, Karen Black can outshine anyone when it comes to pushing creepy glances and facial expressions. Her last scene in the film haunts me to this day. Oh man, I can still see her!The title refers to the practice in some cultures of burning animals alive as sacrifices to the Gods. They don't realize it, but the Rolf family is being led to the altar, the fire is hot, and you are invited along. I encourage anyone who has not seen this film to not miss this opportunity to own it!"
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 10/06/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"With Halloween almost upon us, it's time to take a brief glimpse back at some classic films of terror. Dan Curtis' started directing and producing with his terror/soap hybrid "Dark Shadows". This stylized film recalls "Dark Shadows" and Curtis' other films of terror "The Night Strangler" and "Trilogy of Terror" in that what you don't see or understand creates more suspense than what you do see. Ben and Marian Rolf (the wonderful Oliver Reed and Karen Black)and their young son Ben (Todd Turquand)find a beautiful old house in the middle of nowhere for their summer rental. The place has been around for at least a hundred years based on the photos of the house taken over the years. Arnold Allardyce (Burgess Meredith) and Roz Allardyce (Eileen Heckart)will rent the place to them for next to nothing---$900.00 for three months. Ben suspects there's a catch and there is--Arnold and Roz's mother never leaves the place. She doesn't need any special attention just three meals a day and no disturbances.
Reluctantly Ben senior agrees to the deal when it's clear that Marian has fallen in love with the old house. They move in with Ben's aunt Elizabeth (Bette Davis in a wonderful and cynical turn). Strange things start happening shortly after they move in; Ben begins having these vivid, horrible nightmares and the family's behavior begins to change as well with Ben threatening his son while playing with him.
A marvelous late 70's thriller, "Burnt Offerings" works precisely because of what Curtis doesn't show us; we don't see any hideous monsters poking out of the cellar nor body parts torn apart. if you're expecting that in this movie, look elsewhere. What makes "Burnt Offerings" work so well is the sense of menace and foreboding that begins as soon as the family enters the house for the first time. There's just too many unanswered questions and mysteries lingering about the house.
Featuring a marvelous commentary by director Curtis, co-screenwriter William F. Nolan ("Trilogy of Terror" and the author of the novel Logan's Run as well as episodes of "The Twilight Zone" and other series) and actress Karen Black, "Burnt Offerings" gives you the creeps. Stellar performances by all the cast particularly Burgess Meredith in a showy supporting role and Eileen Eckhart. I always thought there was something slightly off about Black and this movie demonstrates that she can use that image to great effect.
A warning for DVD buyers. The film was shot using a number of filters to give the house a golden, almost overlit look to it. A lot of folks believe it's just a bad transfer. It's not. While the print looks pretty good with minimal to no analog artifacts, it could have looked a bit brighter with more vivid colors. Overall, though, the look of the film accurately portrays the film's intended look through the use of camera and lighting filters to give the film its unique, distinct look. You'll notice that the look of the film shifts subtly as time moves on and that's quite deliberate as well. I won't spoil it all for you but will let you discover it for yourself.
The film comes with the original theatrical trailer (where you'll notice the same "filtered" effect on display although not quite as pristine. The trailer is also quite worn and clearly hasn't been restored. Although the film doesn't have any featurettes about the making of the film, the commentary more than makes up for that with interesting background on the writing, directing and acting of the film. As many others have pointed out, the house shown here is in Oakland, California. If you get a chance try and visit that area. It'll creep you out once you realize it's the same house that was also used in parts of "Phantasm".
The Chaffer Is Terrifying!
Kai Hamilton | Saluda, NC USA | 10/21/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"'Burnt Offerings' Is an excellent shocker... one of which you don't see now days.. I just had to give it the highest rating because.. I was truly terrified by the Chaffer in this movie... I thought I was the only one that had this problem till I read the other reviews... This guy is the most scarey image in any movie I have ever seen.. I don't know who he is.. and what it is about him but I get chills just thinking about him.. I can see his face and smile and glasses and hat.. the whole 9 yards and it terrifies me... Watch this movie for a big scare.. and don't go into it thinking about it being some gore-fest or some monster special effects movie.. because its not.. and thats what makes it all the more better.. Im glad to see other movies going back to their own roots when we all acually knew what sheer terror was... Evil People as Evil Imagery, Scarey Surroundings,Real Feeling Terror, and A Haunted House (?!?!!!??) .. It is all here.. and it has a ending to die for... *If anyone out there has had the same problem with being scared to death from this man (the Chaffer) contact me... cause your not alone.. and I would love to talk about it...Later and Happy Haunting..."
The mansion steals the show!
Kristen J. Deem | Los Angeles, California | 07/15/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the few horror films that I can still sit back and enjoy. It scared me pretty badly as a kid. I still feel all the haunting vibes and chills watching it as an adult.It may not be action packed (although the scene with Reed trying to kill his soon in the pool was terrifying--and ultra-realistic), but it certainly gets under your skin. This film is about mood, and it is both beautifully entrancing and ominously mesmerizing. I actually found the acting quite good. Reed was wonderful. I loved the two weird siblings, Roz and Brother (Burgess Meredith, wonderful actor). Their adoration of the house sent chills up my spine.The true stars of the movie are the music (Bob Cobert's amazing Music Box Theme) and the house (Dunsmuir House & Gardens, in Oakland, California). For true horror buffs out there, this movie inspired the creators of PHANTASM to drive up to Oakland and use this same mansion as the infamous Morningside Mortuary. Which is probably, when the opening moments of PHANTASM rolled in 1979, I had such fear towards Morningside--seeing the mansion there again on screen! I have to wonder if other elements of BURNT OFFERINGS inspired PHANTASM as well. Note the creepy old lady upstairs at the end. Reminds one of PHANTASM's eerie fortuneteller. How about B.O.'s terrifying hearse chauffeur? He's kind of like a forerunner of the Tall Man!BURNT OFFERINGS is well worth the viewing. Don't expect any real jolts or screams. But turn off the lights and let it really sink in. It's well worth a viewing. There are many moments (such as the house renewing itself during the rainstorm) that are bizarre and horribly fascinating. I haven't seen this good a haunted house movie in years.And definitely visit Dunsmuir in real life. This place is spectacular. You'll fall in love with it, just like Karen Black! lollol [....] I certainly did. I spent awhile helping out as tour guide and volunteer at the estate while attending college in the Bay Area. To me it'll always be both Morningside and 17 Shore Road. During tours of the manse, the guides always are sure to point out the "Blue Room" where Bette Davis met her demise in the film. (Shiver.)"