127 user 79 critic

Burnt Offerings (1976)

A family moves into an old, haunted house that regenerates itself by feeding off of the life forces of its injured occupants.



(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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6 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Director: Milton Katselas
Stars: Bette Davis, Gena Rowlands, Ford Rainey


Complete credited cast:
Arnold Allardyce
Roz Allardyce
David Rolf (as Lee H. Montgomery)
Joseph Riley ...
Ben's Father
Todd Turquand ...
Young Ben
Orin Cannon ...
Jim Myers ...
Dr. Ross
Anthony James ...


Ben and Marian Rolf rent a grand old country mansion as a summer getaway for themselves, their twelve year old son Davey, and Ben's Aunt Elizabeth. They feel they can't turn down the rent deal offered to them by the house's owners, siblings Roz and Arnold Allardyce, despite some reservations. First amongst those reservations, they are to take care of the house on their own, which Ben feels is too big a job, especially for Marian and the interior housekeeping. In Marian's words, the large size of the house is a "waste". And second and perhaps more important amongst those reservations, the Allardyces' aged mother will be staying in her room at the house, the Rolfs who are to provide a tray of food left outside her room three times a day, which Marian vows to take care of on her own, with no other members of the family to go into that isolated wing of the house so as not to disturb Mrs. Allardyce's peace. Upon their arrival at the house for the first day of their stay, they find a note ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Up the ancient stairs, down the twisting corridor, behind the locked door, something lives, something strange, something evil, something from which no one has ever returned See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

18 October 1976 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Pesadilla diabólica  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


This is one of Stephen King's favorite horror movies. See more »


When Ben is kissing Marian on the lawn, after they emerge from the pool one night, blue eyeshadow appears & disappears on Marian's face. See more »


Ben Rolf: Marian, whether you come with us or not; tomorrow we're going back.
Marian Rolf: Going back? To what?
Ben Rolf: To what we had.
Marian Rolf: We had nothing!
Ben Rolf: And what do you suppose we've got now?
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A Different Take On Your Average Haunted House Movie.
23 April 2006 | by (New York, NY, United States) – See all my reviews

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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