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Burnt Offerings
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Burnt Offerings More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

just a side note about the plot

Author: spooky_trix from nowhere
24 February 2000

This movie is not as well executed as it should have been, agreed, but its hard to capture the real feeling. There is a very obscure legend that this movie does reflect upon though. Anyone who has ever played ravenloft d&d games might be able to figure it out......... There is this living entity known as an animator (in some legends it has a very elaborate name). It feeds off of negative energy, for instance it grows stronger from fear, or pain, or sorrow. often small animators are found in prisons, funeral homes, etc..... An animator takes control of an object, like a knife or a book and uses it to create more havoc. A large and powerful animator could animate an entire house. Burnt offerings is about a house with a very old animator living in it. A legend i once read mentioned that some residents of such houses will be rewarded if they can produce the sorrow, pain or fear themselves....usually this reward transpires itself in a completely clean house, new paint, etc.... The people in the people renting out the house in Burnt offerings probably would return to their home in the winter and enjoy a newly repainted house........of course this is all just a silly legend.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

While it has some scary moments, it crawls along at a snail's pace.

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
14 October 2009

The film is about a family who comes to live at a creepy mansion for two months. However, throughout the film, there is tons of foreboding music and you know SOMETHING bad is going to happen as the personalities of everyone (but the boy) seems to change the longer they live in the house. Unfortunately, it only really heats up in the last half hour of the movie.

I usually like long movies and can't complain if a film merits a three hour running time or longer. However, at the same time, I hate films that go on too long given that the story is actually very, very simple and just doesn't merit the lengthy running time--like this film. BURNT OFFERINGS is only about two hours long, though it seems like a three hour film because it moves at a snail's pace. At least 45 minutes could have been edited out and the film would have improved as a result of tightening up the script--especially if they'd taken it from the first 2/3 of the movie. For so much of the film, nothing particularly scary or important happens and the tension doesn't exactly build--it slogs along. Now I understand that some of this slower pacing is good for a horror film--you need some build-up--but not THIS much! This was especially bad because the ending was almost exactly what I'd expected about 15 minutes into the film (though the level of blood did surprise me a bit).

Oliver Reed and Karen Black play husband and wife and this casting just seemed odd. Why the English Reed with Ms. Black--especially when their chemistry seemed, at best, awkward? And why did much of Reed's performance (especially late in the film) consist of him shaking convulsively and looking very red-faced (like he was really constipated)? And, why would they include Bette Davis in this film when her role was really rather bland and unimportant? In other words, why is such a great actress given a role that could have been as easily played by any supporting actress or perhaps even a parrot?! As for Lee Montgomery as the boy, he was probably the best in this film. While I hated this child actor in films such as BEN (yuck!!!), here he was decent--and the most credible member of this family--mostly because he didn't seem stupid like his parents!

Overall, this film is creepy and atmospheric but too much emphasis was placed on this. The "bang" at the end just didn't provide enough thrills to merit sitting through the previous 90 minutes of bland "action". Worth seeing as a time-passer or if you must see everything Miss Davis ever did (even her poorer films of the 1970s), otherwise this one is easy to skip.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Home improvement, horror style!

Author: The_Void from Beverley Hills, England
18 December 2007

I've heard a variety of things about this film; from it being a classic to it being 'dull and boring'. I've never been a big fan of haunted house movies; stuff like Amityville and Poltergeist bored me to tears, and I can't really think of a single one that I really enjoyed. I have to say that I am siding more with the 'dull and boring' side on this one really; although despite it's flaws, Burnt Offerings is not as bad as I thought it might be, and I did quite enjoy it. The title 'Burnt Offerings' suggests some kind of devil worshipping plot to me; though the title is, in fact, entirely misleading. The film focuses on a mysterious house. Oliver Reed and Karen Black move into the house with their son and elderly aunt as caretakers over the summer; the catch is that they also have to care for the elderly woman upstairs who doesn't leave the house. And that is not the only catch; as the house is evil! The difference between this film and other films like it is that when this house takes its victims, part of it rejuvenates...

The best thing about this film is undoubtedly the cast as it features cult stars Oliver Reed and Karen Black, as well as classic actress Bette Davis. All three of these have their place in horror history, and all of them give great performances; particularly Oliver Reed who is more down to earth than usual but still manages to provide a gripping performance. The film reminded me of a less eventful version of The Shining, though the book came out a year after this film so I can't say it's a rip off (but perhaps the reverse is true...). It's true that not a lot happens in this film; and at 110 minutes, the film certainly is overlong. This is a problem, though it never grinds to a complete halt and there is a handful of strong standout moments. The film also features a good foreboding atmosphere, which gives the haunted house plot credibility. One of the problems I had with the film is that the house itself should have a character; but it doesn't, and director Don Sharp doesn't make good use of it. He does make good use of the swimming pool, however. Overall, Burnt Offers is not a classic film; though it's not as boring as some say. Worth a look!

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Weird gothic horror

Author: thomandybish from Weaverville, NC
5 March 2001

This weird movie has a couple, their son, and grandmother coming to a sprawling isolated mansion to housesit for the summer for two weird sisters. Things get creepy, as the house itself seems to possess some bizarre ability to pray on the weaknesses and fears of the caretakers, especially Oliver Reed's long-buried horror of the leering chauffer who drove the hearse at his father's funeral and Karen Black's obsession with a mysterious old lady who lives on the top floor. The sequence in which the grandmother is dying and the creepy chauffer bursts through the bedroom door with a casket packs a punch! Nothing is as scary as a house, and the gothic tradition is due for a revival.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

What's Happening Here ?

Author: aesgaard41 from United States
16 January 2001

I'm a big fan of haunted house movies, but I've never been able to figure out this one completely. Thankfully, the house isn't the star and instead the story relys on the characters trying to figure out what is occurring around them along with the audience.Fine performances are given by Oliver Reed, Karen Black ad Bette Davis not playing a crazy old lady for a change. The house's wierd owners are played by Dub Taylor, Eileen Heckert and Burgess Meredith, the experts of eccentric characters (I guess Michael J. Pollard and Clint Howard weren't available). The three of them even out-"Addams" the "Addams Family." Unfortunately, the ambiguous script, directed by Dan Curtis of "Dark Shadows" fame, doesn't explain anything; is the house haunted or possessed ? There's a confusion of clues and hints, but the puzzle board is missing. The twist ending doesn't reveal anything either, but leaves one even more confused. You can try reading the original Robert Marasco novel, but that won't explain anything either. I would have thought anything created by Curtis to have some panache, but this movie has all the logic of an empty grave.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Scary? Don't think so...

Author: Ian C. Smith (podrep) from Coppice farm, England
21 October 2000

Actually I watched this film last night on cable and was surprised at how it brought back to mind all that soft-focus old-time 'seventies film-making. Kind of enjoyable in a nostalgic kind of way. Reminded me a little of the far superior Kolchak tv series. For a horror film though it makes the unforgivable sin of not being at all scary...

In it's defense though, this film did not cost tens of millions of dollars or used hundreds of cgi shots and it didn't rely on gore and nudity and cheap chills. Or maybe it should have! Depends on your taste in horror films.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Another Haunted House Movie

Author: lthseldy1 from Norfolk, VA
21 May 2000

I first remember seeing this movie as a child and it scared me so much for years. But now I've grown up and I still like it. I found Oliver Reed to be good in this movie as he's done in his other horror movies acting psychotic and crazy with his split personality especially during this movie when his character really splits. about the pool was disturbing and controversial,as it suggest child abuse. The motive of where there is suppose to be an old lady in the house was strange but we find why there is not actually an old lady in the house as to what happens in the end of the movie. I enjoyed Bettie Davis' role but I could have done without her nagging and complaining. The boy just seemed like your typical braty only child in this movie when he does things like skin his knee and whines and cries in parts of the movie that made him unbareable to watch. The scene of the coffin and the strange man from the hearse was really creepy. He should have had more roles in this film. But the ending could have been better. I give it a 6.

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

makes little sense

Author: mukava991 from United States
22 June 2010

Through most of this exercise in TV-movie-style Gothic horror I strained to follow some kind of internal logic. At unpredictable times an enormous country house possesses its boarders, causing them to try to kill each other, hallucinate, or just act strangely. It perpetrates these assaults in cahoots with its owners, a pair of eccentric siblings (Eileen Heckart and Burgess Meredith) who lure summer caretakers with an irresistible deal: two months in a palatial dwelling, completely stocked with food, in return for a modest payment to the owners, and a promise to deposit and remove a food tray for an unseen grandma who never comes out of her top floor bedroom.

It's the old Gothic haunted house template – clueless innocents agree to stay in a spooky old house and then regret it. In this case, it's the house itself, behaving sort of like a Venus fly trap in relation to its guests, rather than ghosts that causes the mayhem.

The victims/caretakers in this case are an English-accented man of uncertain occupation (Oliver Reed), his wife (Karen Black), their son (Lee Montgomery), and the man's good-natured old aunt (Bette Davis). When the caretakers express doubt that they can maintain such a vast property, Heckart explains with an ominous glint that the house miraculously takes care of itself. Once all of these preliminaries are in place, the ominous siblings conveniently vanish so the horror can begin.

There is a lot of mood but little plot cohesion. Ongoing creepiness is supplied by eerie musical scoring and fuzzy cinematography (achieved, according to the director, with the use of artificial fog). The film is adapted from a novel and one gets the impression that either a lot of explanatory back story was carelessly omitted in the transition or the source material itself was inferior. A succession of spooky incidents is not enough to evoke real fear in the viewer for the simple reason that anyone who would continue to stay in such a house after even one of those incidents cannot be taken seriously. Besides, if the house is so powerful that it can keep itself clean and structurally sound, and even devour people's life force, why does it take a whole summer to do so? Why can't it accomplish the task in a couple of hours and get it over with? Why does Reed flash back to a nightmarish episode from his childhood involving a sinister chauffeur from his mother's long-ago funeral procession? Why does this figure keep showing up? Why is the aunt there? Was she Reed's mother figure after the loss of his real mother? Why does Karen Black seem so ditzy and inconsistent? One moment she appears to be strangely indifferent to the alarming events taking place, and the next bullishly determined to escape. Some of her line readings are so blatantly arch that you can't tell whether she is demonically possessed or failing to deliver her lines with true conviction. We are led to believe that the house has devoured countless people over the years, but if so, why were there no investigations into the disappearance of so many people over many years after spending time there? If you knew someone who said, "I'm staying at This Address for 2 months. See you after Labor Day," and they never showed up again, you or someone would eventually look into it.

Meredith plays his role as if he is channeling Tallulah Bankhead. He's campy, funny and intriguing, making the most of his pickled and mellifluous voice, but he disappears too soon. Davis, when given a chance, gets the old juices flowing, but the chances are few and far between.

The whole premise is just too far fetched and its execution too disjointed to satisfy and by the time the movie ends and the strange events are finally "explained," you've already guessed the outcome. But worth a look for Davis, Heckart and Meredith.

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

This VERY Old House!

Author: domino1003 from United States
10 October 2003

Dan Curtis and Karen Black are together again in "Burnt Offerings," in which a family (Father, Mother and Son, with a dotty old Aunt)stay at a nice estate home for the summer.

******SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!******

The first clue that something is wrong is that the house becomes alive. From long dead flowers that are reviving to the house shedding old roof shingles, being replaced by new ones. Everyone starts acting oddly, like Karen Black becoming obsessed with the house and Bette Davis becoming incredibly ill. Oliver Reed begins to see a creepy man from his past, and the son is always a target (If I had a son as annoying as him, I'd try to bump him off, too!).

I won't say how it ends, but it makes you scratch your head in wonder: Why do people continue to stay in a apparent creepy house? I would be out in a second!

Give it a view.

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4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Nothing is burnt, very little is offered....

Author: Poseidon-3 from Cincinnati, OH
8 December 2003

A compelling book is given a rather faithful, yet unfulfilling film treatment here. Reed and Black play a big city couple who proceed to rent a dilapidated mansion from an oddball brother and sister (Meredith and Heckart) for only $900 for the entire summer. One condition is that they must take three meals a day to the 85 year-old mother living in a two-room suite upstairs. They bring their young son (Montgomery) and Reed's feisty aunt (Davis) along for the stay. Unfortunately, unusual, even disturbing events begin to take place. Reed begins to flashback to his mother's upsetting death, Black becomes obsessed with the woman upstairs and her belongings and Davis starts to deteriorate from her usual zest into a decrepit old lady. Montgomery encounters a variety of minor accidents and inflictions. Before long, the quartet is virtually held captive by the house as it seems to rejuvenate and renew itself through their misfortune and suffering. The film takes its time in telling the story. Many of the details and incidents of the book are presented. However, Black is miscast as the wife. A more subtle and less affected actress would have been better as Black already looks demented during the walk-through of the home! Her false eyelashes deserve billing as she mugs and bemoans her way through the events of the film. Reed (looking quite fit, tan and attractive most of the movie) does a great job. He aptly portrays the wrenching fear and upset that his character is experiencing while also providing the proper menace when necessary. Montgomery's character is uneven, his loyalties and motivations changing often. The actor is often grating and comes off as foolish. Davis (mesmerizing in just about anything except "Wicked Stepmother") gives one royally hilarious performance here. She starts out in a blonde pageboy wig with Globe Theatre makeup. Then (and no one seems to find this odd) her hair turns completely gray and she starts to get terrifyingly ugly. Davis has a horrendous wardrobe including the screen's ugliest green sandals and a deadly tropical shirt that can't begin to camouflage her barrel-like torso. By the time she is at her lowest, every bone can be heard creaking and her agonizing shouts are, at once, uncomfortable and uproarious. It is never indicated how the Yankee Davis could be related to the obviously British Reed. Meredith and Heckart are enjoyably hammy and creepy as the home's owners. Taylor pops up briefly as a crass, slovenly maintenance man. The film doesn't quite hang together as a thriller because it never really divulges the nature of the threat. It also meanders and switches focus and point of view too often to create a clear story. However, it does have some memorable moments of creepiness and dread along with some delightfully bad acting to make it entertaining on a different level. One drawback is the gauzy, cloudy photography which gives it a very TV-movie feel (not helped by the fact that the director is mainly a TV veteran.) Even thought the story is predictable to a point, the finale is still pretty gripping. (One note: People on IMDb who criticize predictability and familiarity should remember that in many cases, whether in this film or another, the film being reviewed may have been FIRST and the imitators that came later are what are making the film in question seem too familiar in retrospect! This film's elements may have been done in some ways before, but weren't "done to death" at the time of filming as they have been by now.)

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