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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.Read more ›
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!
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As good in its own way as "The Haunting" of 1963 was which starred Claire Bloom and Julie Harris. A huge, creepy old house and unearthly forces tear the family apart.Published 18 days ago by VictrolaJazz
great movie might be even more enhanced with the right audio production - this is the same as many a bootleg, they got the essentials right, but not the incidentals;Published 20 days ago by Henry Kipp
Great 70's horror movie! Spooky fun. Oliver Reed, Karen Black, and Bette Davis are terrific. Hearse driver is especially creepy. I watch it most every summer.Published 1 month ago by Gina G
Excellent Blu-ray upgrade from Kino Lorber has not only the original DVD commentary, but a new one with film historian Richard Harland Smith that is most interesting, as well as... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Quiet Knight
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