Thursday, November 12, 2009
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.