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Burnt Offerings (1976) Poster

Goofs

Jump to: Character error (1)  | Continuity (8)  | Crew or equipment visible (4)  | Factual errors (1)  | Plot holes (6)  | Revealing mistakes (2)  | Spoilers (1)

Character error 

No explanation is ever given for how the very British speaking Ben (Oliver Reed) has come to have such an 'Americanised' family. Even in the childhood flashback scene illustrating Ben's fear of undertakers, he is seen attending an outdoor American funeral.
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Continuity 

When Marian saves Davey from drowning towards the end of the film, she pulls him out of the water and her hair is soaking wet. Moments later, it almost dry & is scraggly.
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When Ben chases Marian after they both emerge from the pool one night, suddenly Ben's swim trunks are dry.
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The gray in Marion's hair has completely vanished when she and Ben are out on the porch at night and she has the tea tray.
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Car trouble: when Ben (Oliver Reed) and his son try to flee from the evil house in the family station wagon, we see how Ben forcefully bashes the car into a large fallen tree numerous times. Yet just a few scenes later, the car shows not a nick or dent anywhere on the body. It's obvious that in their isolated location, no body or repair work could have been performed on the car to put it back into such pristine condition.
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When Ben is kissing Marian on the lawn, after they emerge from the pool one night, blue eyeshadow appears & disappears on Marian's face.
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Early on in the movie Ben's (Oliver Reed) glasses appear and disappear from his face in a couple of scenes, without him putting them on or removing them.
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After David (Lee Montgomery) falls from the gazebo and comes back into the house, the graze makeup on his knee is significantly different from shot to shot.
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When the glass bowl is broken, pieces change position between the shots.
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Crew or equipment visible 

When the hearse driver throws open the bedroom door and pushes a coffin toward the camera, you can see hands come up to stop the coffin so that it doesn't hit the camera.
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When all the clocks move to midnight on their own, wires are visible pulling the hands around.
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At the end of the movie, as they are preparing to leave the house, the shadow of a boom mic is clearly visible as the family walks around their car.
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At the end of the film, when the chimney collapses, you can clearly see the cables on either side pulling the bricks down.
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Factual errors 

The Kirby vacuum that Karen Black is using on the steps, she turns it off via a switch on the handle. That series of Kirby never had a handle switch, it would have had a toe switch down by the motor.
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Plot holes 

At the end of film the mansion-house chimney is seen to become unstable, collapsing and ultimately falling on top of David - he is killed. During this time however the chimney breaks up so slowly that the observant child would have had enough time to get out of the way of such a dangerous hazard.
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When escaping from the renewing house with his son, why does Ben relentlessly plow his automobile into a fallen tree? Surely, it would have made more sense to drive an alternate escape route; or even abandon the car altogether and escape on foot.
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There is no clue or significance in the movie of the prop antiquated bicycle found in the woods, or the Edwardian/Victorian spectacles found in the pool. It is never actually specified, for instance, that they have any relationship to the 1890s graves. Indeed Ben's (Oliver Reed's) sudden bout of madness upon discovering the cursed glasses in the pool, could have played identical, with or without the spectacles.
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There is no explanation for what has happened to Marion (Karen Black) when the movie ends. She does not appear in photos of the other family members 'absorbed' by the house. While the elderly reclusive 'Mrs Allardyce', whom Marion has supposedly become, does not in fact exist.
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Ben's shock dramatic jump from the small upstairs bedroom window at the end of the movie - confirmed by Dan Curtis on the Burnt Offerings commentary - is both out of character and beyond reason. Ben has not shown any suicidal tendencies, and, while his distress is acceptable, he would still not have reacted in such a strange and extreme manner to his wife's erratic behavior (which in any case has been obvious throughout the film). The scene exists purely for dramatic effect.
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It is inexplicable that there is never any police investigation and arrest, given that dozens of people have vanished when visiting the country mansion (Dunsmuir House). The Rolf family, for instance, having recently attended Aunt Elizabeth's funeral, must have sent out invitations or made phone calls from the mansion informing relations, shortly before they too disappeared. The doctor was also aware that the Rolfs had leased the mansion. Leading the authorities to suspect the Allardyce siblings and Walker of foul play.
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Revealing mistakes 

At the end of the movie Ben (Oliver Reed) dives from the upstairs bedroom window on a vertical descent, but inexplicably lands horizontal on the station wagon beneath, his face smashing into the windscreen in one continuous drop.
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Ben (Oliver Reed) is seen chopping bushes in the garden midway through Burnt Offerings. When he pauses for a rest, he suffers a terrifying waking nightmare as a black hearse drives up the road to the house, pauses, and the phantom chauffeur smiles at him insidiously. The delusion then ceases abruptly! Yet, although the black hearse is supposed to be unreal it leaves a small oil leak on the concrete path where it was previously parked, after it has vanished.
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Spoilers

The goof item below may give away important plot points.

Continuity 

When Ben is looking at the glasses he found in the pool, refuse floating in the pool around him changes between shots.
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See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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