Thursday, November 12, 2009

Burnt Offerings


When Ben and Marion are given the opportunity to rent a spectacular house for a ridiculously low price they quickly agree to the unusual terms. Sure the home is a bit run down and they’re expected to feed the homeowner’s elderly mother who lives in the uppermost floor of the house behind a locked door, but this seems like a small price to pay given the terrific real estate.

The two are joined by their young son, David, and Ben’s aunt Elizabeth (Bette Davis). At first everything is great. Ben spends his days fixing up the place and Marion tends to the unseen old lady. However, strange things begin to occur. While roughhousing in the pool Ben almost drowns David in a fit of unprovoked rage and later Ben experiences nightmares about his mother’s funeral and of an eerie man driving a hearse. Meanwhile Aunt Elizabeth’s appearance begins to deteriorate for unknown reasons and she soon becomes frail and sickly. Marion becomes cold, distant, and increasingly obsessive about the old woman in the attic refusing to allow anyone to see her. Stranger still the house seems to be repairing itself. At one point Ben looks out the window and is startled to see the house shedding old shingles revealing new shingles underneath. Following a number of near-fatal accidents Ben concludes that he must get his family away from this strange house, but will the house let them leave?

Creepy Burgess Meredith owns the house

Evil houses were apparently all the rage in 70s horror (e.g., This House Possessed, Amityville Horror, The Shining, etc.) and Burnt Offerings comes courtesy of Dan Curtis (Trilogy of Terror, Dead of Night) whose his style is evident throughout (e.g. low floor angles, extreme close-ups, etc). I’m beginning to suspect that Dan Curtis was the Uwe Bolle of his day. Part of the setup goes nowhere. We are treated to a series of nightmares featuring the creepy hearse driver but this is not connected to the main story in any way and is never explained – perhaps Curtis needed to pad Burnt Offerings, which was a made-for-television movie, with a few extra scares? More puzzling, David disappears for large sections of the film leaving the viewer wondering how the hell the kid kills time in this big house in the middle of nowhere. I actually enjoyed Burnt Offerings but it contained enough cheese for an extra large pizza. Check out the trailer,

Interesting trivia: The creepy house is the same house used in Phantasm and can be found in Oakland, CA.


Whirlygirl said...

So this was a made for tv movie? I knew it! When you looked it up the night we tried to watch it you said it wasn't. Jpx, were you trying to trick me into seeing it?

I watched maybe the first four minutes and then made jpx turn it off. There were three reasons: it looked like a made for tv movie, I couldn't stand the appearence of the wife, and there was some hillbilly old man that spouted some lines that annoyed me. I'm glad to see you got back to it, jpx.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

I've always heard of this movie but never knew a damn thing about it aside from the cool name. ** seems kind of harsh considering that you seemed to enjoy it. Burgess Meredith is always good for a laugh too.

I'll have to make a pilgimage to the Dunsmuir House sometime!

Catfreeek said...

The chauffeur was a memory Oliver Reed's character had as a child from his Mother's funeral. They mention it somewhere in the film, discretely. That man gave me nightmares as a kid.

I remember this airing on tv but I didn't think it was made for tv since I saw it at the Swansea mall theater with my friend, I still have the ticket stub (I know, I'm a weirdo, I saved all my stubs)

Johnny Sweatpants said...

Damn Catfreeek! Way to call out JPX with actual physical proof! You should be quite pleased with yourself.

By the way, can somebody else write my Let the Right One in review? I just don't feel like it.

Catfreeek said...

Yeah but will he believe me? The old ticket stubs just looked like tickets if you remember, I used to write the name of the movie on it and save it. I looked through the stubs after seeing JPX's post. I have a ton of stubs from films like Jaws, Carrie & The Reincarnation of Peter Proud just to name a few.

HandsomeStan said...

I am SERIOUSLY impressed, Cat, with your devotion to chronicling your experience at the time, with an apparent No Reasonable Good Result, and then, 20+ years later on a blog, the information becomes important. Mind-blowing.

And JPX, I like the tone of this review, as it suggests, subtly, that this was the "Pete Best" to all of the 70s Horrible House movies. With extra cheese. A Beatles/pizza metaphor, as if such a thing didn't already exist here on this blog.

And Whirly, remind me to never suggest putting in the WWF retrospective DVD on Hillbilly Jim.

I can tell that you just HATE hillbillies. And that's cool.

They want to be called "Sons Of The Soil"? Well, it ain't gonna happen.

Octopunk said...

That trailer lays it on thick. I really want to know what's in the attic now.

Hmm, I'll just check it out on Wikipedia...

Oh GOD!! OH GOD!!!