Burnt Offerings (1976): Dan Curtis’ Supernatural Horror Movie, Starring Karen Black, Oliver Reed, Bette Davis

From the Archives:

Dan Curtis directed Burnt Offerings, supernatural horror film, starring Karen Black, Oliver Reed and Bette Davis, and Lee H. Montgomery, with Eileen Heckart, Burgess Meredith and Anthony James in smaller roles.

It is based on the 1973 novel of the same name by Robert Marasco.

The Premise: The plot follows a family who begins to interpersonally dissolve under supernatural forces in a large estate rented for the summer.

The film, which received mixed critical response, was a box-office failure.

Originally set on Long Island, New York, the movie moved out West and was the first to be filmed at Dunsmuir House in Oakland, California.

Writer Ben Rolf, his wife Marian, and their young son Davey tour a large, shabby, remote 19th-century mansion to rent for the summer.

The home’s eccentric owners, elderly siblings Arnold and Rosalyn Allardyce, offer them a bargain price of $900 for the entire summer, with one request: Their elderly mother, who they claim is 85 but could pass for 60, will continue to live in her upstairs room, and the Rolfs are to provide her with meals.

The old woman is obsessed with privacy and will not interact with them, so meals are to be left outside her door.

Marian eagerly accepts this task, having begun to succumb to the allure of the ornate house and its decor.

Spoiler Alert:

Bette Davis’ death scene is great!  This is one of the few horror films, in which all the characters lose their lives at the end.


TCM showed the movie on October 17, 2021.