Burnt Offerings (1976) Poster

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9/10
BIG FAN
amylil30 August 2004
I've been a big fan of this movie for years, ever since I was about 12. And I've watched as time and time again people have complained about this movie, and I just didn't get it. Now I'm grown up and I see the flaws, but I still don't care. I love Oliver Reed and Karen Black and don't think it could have been acted better. Watching her grow more an more attached to the house is very interesting. The best part I thought was when she surprises her son who drops a crystal bowl that smashes on the floor, and she kneels there, holding the fragments in her hands, sobbing hysterically, almost like a child had died. The boy, Lee Montgomery, I've never had a problem with. The kid from the Shining, now HE was annoying. hehe. And above all, I LOVE how the movie ends. Although it's predictable, it was VERY welcome. Movies with sad, creepy endings that leave you with a shiver always work for me.
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10/10
Great 70's horror.
tony515015 July 2005
My 10 out of 10 vote for this movie really stems from the first time I'd seen it. I was an 8 year old at the drive-in with my parents. The assumption was I would watch the first movie of this double bill and fall asleep before the scary movie started. I cannot remember the first movie but I can tell you I will never forget this one. I played like I was sleeping in the back seat but watched the whole movie without my parents knowing. I had nightmares for months to come. Images of the creepy Chauffeur driver and the foggy lighting and lens effects really stuck with me. And the last scene was terrifying. I'm much older now but when revisiting this horror classic I'm reminded of that night in the backseat of my parents car...I still get chills. I also had the same experiences with "Seizure" "From Beyond the Grave" and "The Sentinel".
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9/10
Creepy and mesmerizing!
martian-815 July 2001
Warning: Spoilers
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 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 sends 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 already had such fear upon seeing the mansion 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! I certainly did. I spent awhile helping out as tour guide and volunteer at the estate while attending college in the Bay Area.
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7/10
"Burnt Offerings" -- is it about fertility rites/ renewal via death?
Error_PC_LOAD_LETTER13 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This comment may contain a spoiler or two -- it is for those who have seen the movie and are baffled.

I have not read the novel, and have only seen the 'edited for T.V. version (about four times). But from reading other posters' comments and reviews, it seems that many people are baffled by what the title 'burnt offerings' means and what the heck is going on in the movie. From what little I have seen on television, the theme seems to be that the house injures and even kills its resident occupants in order to renew itself. Sort of a fertility rite, where death was enacted to bring about the Springtime, or renewal. Whenever someone gets hurt, or killed, the house renews a part of itself. Minor injuries may only repair a simple light bulb, or bring a few dead potted plants back to life or restore a cracked mirror. But look what happens at the end !!

The old lady upstairs, Mrs. Allardyce (?sp) is supposedly an eighty-five year old woman'. Isn't that the approx. age of the house (in 1976? Wouldn't you say the Dunsmuir house looks about that old, built in 1891, perhaps?) When the professor / renter asks the owners of the house what 'the catch' is (why it's so inexpensive to rent), the response from one of the owners (who are insulted at the idea that it's a 'catch' -- their response is, 'it's our mother.' -- is that intended as the 'catch? that the house is their mother? (then the conversation shifts to that she is an eighty five year old woman, and that she stays in the upstairs room). I think there may be some symbolism here of the death-and-renewal, earth-goddess sort.

And, by the way, this is NOT a 'haunted house' but what might be described as a slightly different genre' -- a 'living house.' Not haunted, as on the changeling or The Haunting, nor 'demon possessed' as on the Amityville Horror, but a 'living house' -- this one with an appetite and a penchant to renew itself. Lots of old houses, to me, seem to have a soul and thoughts and demeanor of their own. Enjoy the renewal rites.
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9/10
The Best Dan Curtis Film, Period.
luvehorror6 November 2005
I can watch this film over and over again. The atmospheric styles of Dan Curtis are imaginable. His usage of lower camera angles, I could go on and on. With excellent performances from Oliver Reed (R.I.P.), and Bette Davis. I also love how Burgess Meredith is in the film, it gave the movie such a Rod Serling feel. The slow moving suspense is nerve racking but keeps you on your toes at the same time. Much better ending than from the original novel. (listen to the commentary with co-writer William F. Nolan)-Burnt Offerings is truly a HORROR CLASSIC. Brace yourself for a creepy ending. Karen Black is stranger than usually. If you like scary old victorian houses with mysterious goings on, Burnt Offerings is just the flick.
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7/10
Truly Creepy.
rjacob6718 December 2006
I enjoyed this movie immensely. The creepy score, the precarious atmosphere, and the Erie flashbacks of the chauffeur with that huge grin. It was a great ghost story. Some say a bit slow paced, but It just added to the tension. Ben was played well by Reed. A man with many problems, compounded by this house from hell. And Karen Blacks performance from loving wife and mother, to the caretaker of the "old lady". Betty Davis comes off a bit aloof, but that also work well in the story. And the scene with the house "shedding", very creepy. Now for the ending. One of the best I have ever seen. I would even put it up against the original "Wicker Man".
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6/10
The Shining part 0
Maciste_Brother28 October 2007
Well made little horror film. Nothing earth shattering or outstanding but quite effective in some spots and original. What's really remarkable about BURNT OFFERINGS is how much it looks like THE SHINING. Stephen King admits that he was inspired by the Robert Marasco novel (and definitely the movie) when he wrote The Shining and it's quite obvious. It's an almost exact copy. A couple with one kid rent a big mansion for the summer. They bring along the husband's aunt and the 4 start experiencing changes in character. The husband is violent towards the boy. The mother is angry towards the aunt, etc. Everyone starts changing after staying at the house for a while. The house itself is seemingly alive and it takes over the family. The last shot in BURNT OFFERINGS, the one with the photos, is identical to the one in Stanley Kubrick's THE SHINING. Truly shocking. Did the author of the novel sue? Anyway, the movie is a creepy little movie in some parts and somewhat dull in other parts. Watching Bette Davis dying was, eh, a bit unsettling. She really looked like she was dying, the poor old woman. Good but not great. I really love the idea of the house "shedding" its skin. If you've seen THE SHINING and not this film, watch it, you'll be more shock about the similarities than the movie itself.
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8/10
Good old-fashioned horror
DoomDealer10 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Burnt Offerings is a true gem. A "well-kept secret", it's one of those supernatural horror films that will still be watchable, and will have lost none of its creepiness in 50 years' time.

What I personally look for in a movie is atmosphere and this one has it by the bucket-load! Despite having been shot in the 70's, it has a beautiful timeless quality. It's far from perfect (let's face it, no film is), and its plot certainly isn't original either, but it's the film's bleak, sinister and unsettling atmosphere (possibly in connection with its 70's look) that makes it what it is, and it's exactly this atmosphere that will stay with you for a long time.

Highly underrated and not known by many people, Burnt Offerings is very well made. Great script, very well shot and extremely well acted. Oliver Reed is fantastic (which kind of goes without saying) but hopelessly out-creeped by the naturally creepy "mother of creep" Karen Black. Black and Reed, both masters of their chosen craft, work like a dream in this movie; a solid acting foundation with Bette Davis being the icing on the cake, as it were.

Certainly a must for Oliver Reed fans (although die-hard Olly fans will most likely have seen it at some point), but it's also a must for fans of good old-fashioned, atmospheric horror.

Just sit back and enjoy. If you're watching it for the first time, you'll likely be wondering afterwards how this one could've escaped you all these years ...
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7/10
Atmospheric chiller
moonspinner5520 July 2006
Talky, but unusual and creepy haunted house movie concerns an ordinary family from the city who rent a country estate for the summer--at a suspiciously low price! A bit confusing at first, but whenever something bad happens (like the father cutting his thumb on the champagne bottle) something good immediately takes its place (the kid switching on what was previously a dead light bulb). The house absorbs the good (the sacrificial new family's spirit and energy) while its inhabitants wither away, physically or mentally. Bette Davis' Aunt Elizabeth ages suddenly (with frighteningly effective make-up), and Anthony James as the chauffeur who haunts Oliver Reed's head is a scary, freaky presence. Karen Black is even odder than usual: I'm not certain whether her not-quite-there expression is what was intended for the role of Marion, but she does something very gutsy for an actress, making herself into a gargoyle (only in her final scene does she overdo it). Superior to the source novel by Robert Marasco, "Burnt Offerings" (the title taken from a biblical reference) is a well-directed slice of the macabre. *** from ****
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7/10
A Different Take On Your Average Haunted House Movie.
drownnnsoda23 April 2006
I had never heard about this film before, I saw it once at a video store once but hesitated to rent it. While at the store around Halloweentime, I happened to see it, and it was on sale for 10 bucks so I decided to give it a chance. And I actually enjoyed it, it was a fairly good movie.

"Burnt Offerings" is pretty much a typical haunted house story, but with a bit of a spin to it. It's about Marian and Ben Ralf (played by Karen Black and Oliver Reed) and their son, who move into a summerhouse in the country that is owned by a very strange brother and sister. The price is a steal, the only catch is that they would have to supply minimal food and care to the sibling's grandmother, who lives in an upstairs bedroom. Marian takes on this duty, and the family begins to prepare themselves to have a relaxing summer out at the old manor. Ben's Aunt, played by the legendary Bette Davis, also is staying with them at the summerhouse. After staying there for awhile, strange things begin to happen, and Marian becomes very secretive of the grandmother in the upstairs room. In fact, nobody in the entire house besides her have even seen the old woman. As tension mounts between Ben and Marian, strange events plague the family, including apparitions, strange sounds, etc.

The ending of this film was pretty different, it may be a bit confusing, but it's still good. Apparently the film is based on a book, which I may personally like to read myself. There are some parallels to "The Shining" too, even though this was released 4 years before that. But, Mr. Stephen King himself noted the novel as one of his favorite horror stories, so it leads me to believe he may have taken some inspiration from this story for "The Shining". Karen Black and Bette Davis give great performances, they are the most remarkable in the film. Oliver Reed was also great, and the kid, while a little whiny and unconvincing, was good enough for his role.

Overall, "Burnt Offerings" has a pretty good story, good acting and a well known cast (primarily Black and Davis). One of the better classic haunted house tales, with a different twist on it that makes it stand out a little in my mind. 7/10.
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10/10
One of the best horror movies ever made.
ElectricWarlock5 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
If you are looking for blood, gore, or loud jump scares, you might want to look elsewhere. Rather than resorting to cheap tactics, this film focuses heavily on atmosphere, suspense, and tension. There is enough suspense in this film for three movies. There isn't a boring moment in this entire film. I was so captivated by this film, that the first time I watched it, I actually felt as if I lived in the mansion among the characters. Almost never does a film come along in which I forget I'm even watching a movie and can't separate it from reality. This movie did just that. It's story sounds like your run-of-the-mill haunted house film when you simply read the summary, but when you actually watch the film, it is a unique experience never to be forgotten. It is highly similar to The Shining. Both films are sophisticated, chilling horror films that require the viewer to think. Because of that, they are both wonderful.

It is no coincidence that this movie is from the mastermind behind Dark Shadows. Dan Curtis masters suspense and terror in a way very few can. The musical score by Robert Cobert contributes to the unsettling mood of the film perfectly. It is one of my favorite scores of all time. The acting is incredible. Karen Black, Oliver Reed, Bette Davis, and Lee Montgomery all have great chemistry as a family and are all wonderful in their respective performances. The characters are all likable. I don't usually like happy endings in horror movies, but this is a case where I wanted the characters to live because I liked them so much. But sadly, that was not meant to happen. Overall, this film has everything I could want in a horror film and I am glad to be a fan of it.
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8/10
A nicely spooky haunted house horror chiller
Woodyanders12 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Grouchy Ben (the always excellent Oliver Reed) and his perky wife Marian (superbly played by the divine Karen Black) rent a large swanky country mansion for the summer for a mere $900 dollars. Staying with the married couple are their bratty son David (solid Lee Montgomery) and feisty Aunt Elizabeth (a terrifically tart Bette Davis). Pretty soon they all find out that something is seriously amiss with the isolated estate. Director Dan Curtis relates the absorbingly spooky story at a slow and stately pace, effectively creates a suitably uncanny gloom-doom Gothic atmosphere, and delivers one corker of a surprise twist bummer ending. Eileen Heckart and Burgess Meredith are wonderfully quirky as the weird sister and brother owners of the expansive abode. Popping up in nifty supporting parts are Dub Taylor as a cranky, grubby handyman and Anthony James as a creepy chauffeur. Bob Cobert's brooding, chilling score, Jacques R. Marquette's hazy, yet sharp cinematography, and the startlingly downbeat conclusion substantially add to the overall eerie quality of this bang-up little fright film winner.
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10/10
THE best haunted house movie ever made.
atomicpunk4031 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This review will contain spoilers... in other words I will expose the ending. But it is needed to show a point. So if you haven't seen this movie and want to be surprised - move on. But if the ending perplexed you - and it did to some people - I will try to explain because I figured it out and I'm here to help.

Now I know that many people consider The Shining as the best haunted house movie. Yeah, I'll agree that one is spooky. But for pure just-to-creep-you-out styled chills, you can't beat this one. The movie starts out with a young family renting an old somewhat run-down looking mansion for the summer for the mind-numbingly low amount of $900... for the whole summertime, not just monthly. The owners (a brother sister pair played by Burgess Meredeth and Eileen Eckhardt along with their caretaker played by Dub Taylor) are a little strange but nice. The condition, they must care for their old mother who lives in a upstairs room. So the family - father Oliver Reed, mother Karen Black, their son Lee H. Montgomery (who, despite his mention in The Golden Turkey Awards as one of the most obnoxious child actors ever, comes across as a pretty decent actor) and Reed's elderly aunt played by Betty Davis (who isn't - for once - playing some old nutcase, diva, or all around self-centered bitch) moves in. It isn't long before we find out about the evil surrounding the house. . . every time someone gets hurt, which is often, the house starts looking a little better. Not only that, but that the house is also purposely doing things to put the family in danger. And what about that creepy old women upstairs that we never see? Mmmmmmm!

Okay basic plot aside let's us get to what makes the film scary. It's the fact that the family is up against an evil force they don't understand, and it doesn't stop until everything around it is harmed. That means them. Now the acting. Black is quite good as the wife who becomes infatuated with just who the old woman is (Black begins to look lovingly at a table filled with pictures of the woman's loved ones outside her bedroom even though she knows none of the people in the photos) and starts taking on the mannerisms of the lady. Reed (an actor who I never really liked because to me he always looked more like he wanted to beat you up than entertain you) is also good as the father who becomes more confused, nervous, and outright scared as things get stranger. Davis is sympathetic as the aunt who realizes that something is wrong with the house when her health starts to go bad with quick alarm and mentions that they need to get the hell outta there. But the best acting goes to Anthony James as The Chauffeur. Kind of like a featured player in the house's show of evil, this guy will give you the willies with his downright satanic smile and menacing demeanor. He's the kind of stuff that nightmares are made of and I assure you he WILL make you cringe with horror.

Now the ending with the last scene of the movie, showing the pictures on the table, being the one of most chilling in the film. Some people just didn't get it so I will explain. The house destroyed the family - or more to the point - devoured them, much to the delight and pleasure of the siblings/owners. Their pain was it's nourishment (in the audio commentary director Dan Curtis says the best horror movies are the ones where everybody's doomed and nobody makes it out of their dreaded situation alive). After the old woman possessed Black, and the father, the aunt, and the son have all met nightmarish ends, the house springs back to life from it's former run-down look - as seen in pictures hanging in the hallway all showing that this has happen a number of times before and will happen again. And, for you see, all those many pictures on the table outside of the old woman's bedroom weren't pictures of friends, sweethearts, family, and other loved ones. They were pictures (with our doomed family being the latest addition)... of victims. The End.

Isn't fun to be frightened sh*tless? Because you will be after watching Burnt Offerings!

This review was written on 10-31-2007...Happy Halloween and Pleasant Nightmares!
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An ordinary family rents a creepy old house for the summer, and later learns that the place has supernatural forces.
verna5514 September 2000
Actress Karen Black and director Dan Curtis reteamed for this spooky ghost story following their great success the year before with the TV thriller TRILOGY OF TERROR. This theatrical release isn't completely up to that triumph, but all in all it's a pretty good chiller, with a terrific cast doing marvellous work. Though she is given surprisingly little to do, Bette Davis does wonders with her role as the tormented aunt. At any rate, this film is a classic compared to THE AMITYVILLE HORROR which came along three years later.
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10/10
Excellent Karen Black Performance: Burnt Offerings A Dan Curtis Masterpiece
perryvalentino20 September 2010
Originally I bought this movie thinking this would be a campy movie with a lot of overacting from Karen Black. Boy was I surprise. "Burnt Offerings" has excellent performances by Oliver Reed, legendary Bette Davis and the young Lee Montgomery. However, this is clearly Karen Black's movie. This is a summer dream house, which becomes a nightmare. The movie itself doesn't have too much action until the very end. Needless to say, it does have solid performances, which make this an excellent movie. The argument scene between Karen Black and Bette Davis was well performed. Echoes of the t.v. show "Dark Shadows" also dominate this movie with the haunting music of Robert Cobert and the excellent direction of Dan Curtis. Movie has a surprise ending, which I will not spoil. Enjoy this delightful movie, which makes me want to buy more Karen Black movies.
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7/10
A great "evil house" story
AlsExGal8 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was so bizarre, but it held my attention to the very end. I loved the home - it was gorgeous, especially after it kept regenerating itself. I loved Eileen Heckart and Burgess Meredith. They were so delightfully charming, eccentric, yet creepy at the same time. I found the premise of the movie very interesting: A house slowly steals someone's vitality, causing that person to become at the very least injured and at the most, it makes them weak enough that they die.

I loved how Karen Black's character became slowly obsessed and consumed by the old Victorian home. Her descent into obsession was so subtle and only really became obvious when she started dressing like a Victorian woman and flipped out about the idea of someone being in Mrs. Allardyce's sitting room. I rather guessed her eventual fate. The scene that tipped me off was when she was seen eating the food she had brought up for the old woman that was in the bedroom.

Oliver Reed's character was very interesting. He was the reasonable one who instinctively knew something was "off" about the house. His scene with his son Danny in the pool was very scary. At first I was confused why Bette Davis seemed so upset with his horseplay with Danny until he started holding his head down under the water. I didn't really get what was up with the car and the creepy chauffeur, only that it seemed to be some traumatic childhood memory Reed's character had. That chauffeur would give anyone nightmares though. Then poor Reed's fate at the end of the film... Wow! How gruesome. I did not expect it at all. And his poor son.

I loved Bette Davis' character. Even though she was a minor character, she imbued her part with such panache. She would be a fun aunt to have. Then my god, what the makeup department did to her when she was having the life sucked from her body.

This was a great film with a very surprising and gruesome ending. I can't help but feel that this film would make a great double feature with the 1975 version of The Stepford Wives. If you think that this film has much in common with "The Shining", be aware that Stephen King was inspired by the original novel before he wrote his own.
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7/10
Beware Low-Priced Vacation Homes
FilmFatale24 August 2008
Karen Black, Oliver Reed, Bette Davis and Lee Montgomery play a family given the chance to rent a mansion for the summer at a ridiculously low price. They only have to agree to take care of the resident old lady. But is the actual price of the rental higher than they could have imagined?? Most of Burnt Offerings is a rather old-fashioned and creaky haunted house film. But when it gets creepy, it does it well. I didn't think it made much sense, but the Chauffeur was one of the most frightening characters I'd ever seen. The pool scene gave me many nightmares as a little kid, too. Oliver Reed is far too hammy but Karen Black is wonderful as a modern mom who slowly loses it.

Not perfect, and a little too long, but the payoff is worth it.
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7/10
Well, I liked it anyway...
jeffoneonone10 August 2006
First of all, no, I didn't see it 30 years ago (just watched it last night in fact) so my opinion isn't tainted by nostalgia. Second of all, no, I'm not 12 years old (33, in fact). And despite those factors, I still really enjoyed Burnt Offerings and was genuinely scared by it. And considering I'm a horror buff who does not scare easily, that's saying something.

Not sure exactly why there is such a hate-on for this movie. It has its share of melodramatic acting (particularly Oliver Reed, whose British soap opera-inspired turn elicited more than a few guffaws on my part), but it had a genuinely creepy vibe that I think outweighed its flaws. People often compare it to The Shining, released four years later, and while I'm not so bold as to say that Burnt Offerings is a better film than that Stanley Kubrick classic, some of the comparable elements are actually scarier at some points. At any rate, it's a little more subtle than Jack Nicholson's somewhat over-the-top performance.
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10/10
They don't make horror like this anymore
jimmylecompt14 June 2013
The Chauffeur alone would have made this one of the creepiest horror films ever made. I literally went into tears because of his dark character. The cast couldn't have been better. To have Betty Davis, Karen Black, and Oliver Reed in your picture... the director had to know he would end up with a classic. The story does creep but I think that is what is wrong with today's horror films. Everything is unveiled too soon. If you pay close attention, the house they rent for the summer is also used in another legendary horror film from the late 70's. Don Coscarelli's Phantasm. If you wanna watch a film without the gore that has some real fright factor, watch Burnt Offerings.
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9/10
Proves there's more ways than loud noises to scare you
jtindahouse4 March 2009
A lot of horror movies rely simply on sudden jolts of sound to make you jump. I recently watched Friday the Thirteenth (2009) and it was literally all it had. Which is fine, no one can deny it gets the job done. The problem with it is that the movies become inseparable and which one is scarier can only be judged really on which made you jump the most.

Burnt Offerings instead creates an atmosphere. It creates it masterfully through character decisions and great use of music. There was a stage early on when I realized nothing eventful had even happened as yet and despite this my heart was pounding. Sure enough a moment later some frightening action took place and I realized for the first time in a long time a horror movie had alerted my sub-conscience and not my mind. These days in horror movies it's far too easy to predict when the event is coming (it's generally when the filmmaker is trying to make you think NOTHING is coming).

Burnt Offerings is more than watchable in this day and age. The lines are nowhere near as cheesy sounding as a lot of other pre-1980 films make them sound today and the acting, whilst not perfect, is anything but bad. The suspense will have your heart pounding and it's all building up to something so terrifying it deserves far more recognition among horror buffs. Not to be missed.
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One of the scariest movies that I have ever seen.
mk_china1 June 2002
Without a doubt, one of the scariest movies that I have ever seen. The scene with the undertaker and coffin coming up the stairs still gives me nightmares. The final scene in the attic throws you out of your seat; a scene that I have never forgotten.
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9/10
Great haunted house classic starring the lovely Karen Black and wildman Oliver Reed
dworldeater2 November 2012
The 1970's were a great time for horror . This offering (no pun intended ) more than holds its own among many of the other classics from the same period . This haunted house story is very similar to both The Shining and The Amityville Horror and I might add Burnt Offerings predates both of those films . Great direction, cast and score. The performances by leading actors Karen Black and Oliver Reed are excellent ,as well as the rest of the cast. The atmosphere is foreboding and I must say this film creates a lot of tension and suspense. Even though this is a PG rated film , it dose not lighten its tone or wimp out in any way . The only horror movie of this type that I feel is better than this is The Shining , but not by much. Very recommended for fans of classy, well made horror.
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8/10
Creepy, old school, horror movie, with an excellent cast...
guitarslinker19 April 2012
Slasher, gore & over-the-top, special effects fans, will most likely, not enjoy this old school, horror movie. I first saw this one in the theaters, during my high school days...

It's always remained a favorite, mostly because of it's excellent, quirky cast & creepy details. As one viewer noted, the original novel was a direct influence on The Shinning. The cast includes, Karen Black, Oliver Reed, Betty Davis, Burgess Meredith, Eileen Heckart, Dub Taylor & the unforgettable, Anthony James. It's weaknesses lie mainly in the script & editing. I'm being picky, but if there's one weak link in the cast, it's Oliver Reed. In terms of a remake, in the right hands, Burnt Offerings could be an absolute classic!

Dan Curtis directs...Known for TV's Dark Shadows & two, made for TV flicks, starring the excellent, Darren McGavin, as news reporter, Kolchak, in both 1973's, The Night Stalker & The Night Strangler. He also directed a couple of my personal favorite, made for TV, horror movies, starring the great, Jack Palance; 1968's, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde & 1974's, Dracula.
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8/10
A summer of madness
sol121828 April 2008
***MAJOR SPOILERS*** One of the best haunted house movies ever to come out of Hollywood in some 15 years since the movie "Psycho" with its eerie mansion where the nutty Norman Bates' murderous mom lived in. "Burnt Offerings" starts off a bit slow and doesn't really get going until the second half. But once it does hold on to your seats and start taking your high blood-pressure medication.

The film is a lot like the movie "The Sentinel" that came out a year later which in fact also stared Burgess Meredith in a role very similar to the one he played in "Burnt Offerings" as the creepy Arnold Allardyce. The Rolf family are invited to stay for the summer at the old Allardyce House to look after the old and frail 85 year old Mrs. Allardyce.

At first Ben or Benji Rolf, Oliver Reed, his sexy wife Marian, Karen Black, and twelve year old son David, Lee Montgomery, are tickled pink at staying at the place but later things start to go sour shortly after they all move in. Told by Arnold and his equally creepy sister Roz Allardyce, Eileen Hackett, to look after their mother who's a shut-in the Rolf's soon find that the old lady has practically barricaded herself in her room letting no one in.

It's when Benji's Aunt Elizabeth, Bette Davis, shows up at the Allardyce Home that things really start to go haywire. The highly educated Benji, who's working on his PHD, starts to slowly lose his mind turning into a brutal and mindless Neanderthal type person. Grabbing little David in the swimming pool Benji tries to drown the frightened boy as if he's possessed by the Devil himself!

It's later that Benji starts to have nightmares of his own mother's funeral with this ghost-like hearse driver, Anthony James, constituently popping up in them. James in fact played the same kind of role two years earlier in his portrayal of a hopped up, on adrenaline, and sex crazed lunatic in the film "The Teacher".

Slowly but surly the Allardyce House somehow starts to come alive taking control of first Benji then Marian who becomes even more weirder, if that's at all possible, then her already totally whacked out husband. After suffering a total mental and psychical breakdown Benji, with what seems like superhuman strength, pulls himself together and comes to his senses. A now back to normal and with all his marbles Benji tells Marian to please together with him and David, Aunt Elizabeth had since passed away, leave the premises as soon as possible. That's before the what seems like possessed house sucks, like a vampire sucking out his victims blood, the life out of all of them!

**SPOILER ALERT*** Even though the ending of the movie takes a while, more the ten minutes, to really get started it will blow you mind completely out of it's skull. Benji in trying to get his stubborn wife Marian to leave finds out the truth not just about her but whom she's been looking after all these weeks the mysterious Mrs. Allardyce! That set off a number of shocking events that, like a major +8 point on the Richter Scale earthquake, shakes the cursed and evil Allardyce House to its very foundations!
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