Burnt Offerings

By Lynda Dale MacLean,
A Summer vacation in a dream house turns hellish for a family.
Author Rating: 
4.0 Stars - Very Good

Burnt Offerings is a chilling, gothic, horror movie. Although set in heavy dramatic undertones, there is no way of becoming unglued by the masterful acting of Oliver Reed, Karen Black, Bette Davis, Burgess Meredith, and Eileen Heckart.

Having a movie memorize you with the fear of the unknown is what makes a horror movie more than just a visual frightener. Add to that the toppings of suspense and you have a classic formula for being scared out of your wits.

The story is about Ben ( Oliver Reed), Marian ( Karen Black), their son David ( Lee Montgomery) and Aunt Elizabeth ( Bette Davis), who rent for the summer a big beautiful old mansion for a killer of a bargain. The house is being rented out by an eccentric brother ( Burgess Meredith) and his sister Roz ( Eileen Heckart.) The only catch really is, that the siblings' mother, who is very old, needs to be looked after and have three meals sent to her room. Most of the time their mother will be sleeping and doesn't want to be disturbed for she likes her privacy.

All appears to be alarmingly perfect and happy for the family. But soon things start to happen.

The house starts to breath new life into it. In the green house where once lifeless plants were brittle and brown, they are now sprouting growth and blooming in an array of colors.

The house also starts to effect the family in new frightening and disturbing ways. Ben has begun to see a hideously scary man from his childhood, which he had tried to bury in his mind. He was the chauffeur (Anthony James), at his father's funeral and his image has haunted him from that day on.

Physical appearances in Ben, Marian, and Aunt Elizabeth change, moods become alarmingly destructive and death soon takes one of the members in a shockingly eerie manner.

The house soon starts remolding itself, getting ready to take on a whole new look and feel. The swimming pool becomes a trap and takes on the form of a wild storm almost killing David.

Ben and Marian know they must escape the house and never look back. But before that can happen Marian feels it is her duty to tell the old woman in the bedroom that they are leaving.

But why is it taking Marian so long to come back out?

The cast is exceptional and I just love Oliver Reed, who is one charming, sexy, and charismatic man to set your sights on. Oliver is one of those actors who causes you to stand still and drink in his talent. Karen Black was so talented and wonderful, and her creepy and frightening transformation was mind numbing. Bette Davis, gosh she was great; a superb actress with talent beyond the norm. Even though Burgess Meredith, Eileen Heckart, and Anthony James are not on screen that long, their characters made a deeply effecting impression and you'll know why when watching their incredible performances. Lee Montgomery was super and a captivating kid to watch on screen.

With an ending that is right out of a nightmare, this movie is sure to leave a picture perfect memory of what you have just witnessed, for a picture perfect case of the frights!


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