Burnt Offerings

Take three of Hollywood’s biggest hams (the always inebriated-seeming OLIVER REED, the voluptuously cock-eyed KAREN BLACK, and a post-BABY JANE/pre-stroke BETTE DAVIS), dangle before them an irresistibly low three-month rent package for a gothic mansion with the caveat that someone drops off a tray of food to an elderly mother concealed in an attic three times a day, shoot the proceedings with a gauzy porn filter, and there you have the gist of BURNT OFFERINGS. Shortly after agreeing to take the estate at 17 Shore Road from the underutilized sibling wonders of BURGESS MEREDITH and EILEEN HECKART, Marian (BLACK) and Ben (REED) Rolf start acting all kinds of cuckoo. Ben tries to drown their son in the pool while roughhousing, much to the dismay of artsy Aunt Elizabeth (DAVIS), whose still-life style is not unlike that of Thomas Kincade, Painter of Light. Meanwhile, Marian takes to wearing chokers and dressing old-timey in between obsessively cleaning the house and dropping off plates of pork chops to the unseen matron of the manor. The insanity, and overacting, escalates to the point where Aunt Elizabeth decides to stub out her last smoke and call it a shoot. Despite the death in the house, Marian wants to stay. In her defense, she did get a sweet deal. $900 for the whole summer… it would take at least three deaths to get your aunt john to skip out on something like that. As the Rolf family continues to deteriorate, the house itself is invigorated by an extreme makeover (supernatural edition). The siding replaces itself and the contents of the greenhouse flourish. Ben grabs his son and tries to escape in the wood-paneled station wagon, but the shrubs have other plans. For this family the realization that they’e not keeping the house, the house is keeping them, comes fatally too late.


  • The demise of Aunt Elizabeth
  • Death by chimney
  • Any scene involving the pox-marked Chauffeur & his shit-eating grin

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14 years ago

Th chauffer was scary as Hell! And REALLY, he didnt DO anything! He would just show up and you would be like “Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!”, hiding your head under the covers.

That ending is freaky too. One of my Top 10 scareiest movie moments form my childhood!

13 years ago

I was so so scared of this movie as a child.  That chauffer!  He did it all.  It did not help though, that I had seen the Zuni doll movie before this and could not forget Karen Black’s face from THAT ending…..

13 years ago

In retrospect, I can’t help feeling there’s a connection between this film and “The Shining”. Both dealt with ghosts, the past returning, and a questionable father/son relationship. And yes, the chauffeur and the image of his hearse coming around the bend has stayed with me. Brrrrrrrrrr, indeed.

11 years ago

Great to see this film here! Before Kindertrauma.com, this was a “Name that Trauma” that haunted me for 15 years!
WHen I was about 7 or 8, I snuck downstairs after a bad dream hoping ot crawl in with mom. Instead, mom was up puttering and this film was on late night tv. Mom went to get me a glass of milk, and I caught the ending of this film, alone (Oliver Reed climbing the stairs to the credits). She came back and I was white as a sheet, and couldn’t find words to explain what had shocked me.

For years those few minutes haunted me, and I asked everyone I could find if they knew this film. Finally, age 22, I’m in a nightclub hanging with friends and we’re having the “kindertrauma” discussion. I mention the clip, and this girl says: “Burnt Offerings. I remember that film”. Boy was I thrilled! Even better – she calls me two days later to tell me it’s on tv that night. My best friend and I waited till 2 a.m. to watch it, and I don’t think I exhaled till the end.