Sunday, April 12, 2009
Burnt Offerings (1976, Dan Curtis)
Have I mentioned how much I love Oliver Reed? Maybe, maybe not. He is definitely one of my favorite actors and I would watch pretty much anything that he is in. I actually got this movie out of the library 3 times over the course of probably 3 years and just never got around to watching it until now. I am sceptical of PG rated horror movies because most of the things I love about horror just isn't allowed in PG films.
Ben (Oliver Reed) and Marian Rolfe (Karen Black) have found the summer home of their dreams and for only $900 for the whole summer, how could they pass it up. They meet with the owners, Arnold - a creepy wheelchair bound older man (Burgess Meredith) with a fondness for little boys - and his sister Roz Allardyce (Eileen Heckart) who tell them that the only catch is that the Allardyce's mother will be staying in the house while they are there. They assure the Rolfes that she never leaves her room and all they'd have to do is prepare her meals. Ben and Marian decide to go for it and move in right away with their son Davey (Lee Montgomery) and Ben's Aunt Elizabeth (Bette Davis). Soon after moving in, weird stuff starts happening and the house begins to come alive and possess the Rolfes into doing terrible things.
Bold statement alert! Bold statement alert! Burnt Offerings is the best haunted house movie I've ever seen. Okay now, don't get your undies in a curl. I'll admit (and you may have noticed this by the films I have reviewed previously) that I'm not really huge on ghosts or haunted houses. Most of the films dealing with these topics I find boring and not very scary. Burnt Offerings is a big exception. Not only does it have a stellar cast, but the story builds a lot of tense moments and the film's nearly 2 hour running time goes by like the speed of light. I found myself almost entranced in the film, barely being able to wait to see the climax. The director Dan Curtis, who is best known for Dark Shadows, Trilogy of Terror and his adaption of Dracula (starring Jack Palance) creates a certain look all his own. It's sort of like Contemporary Gothic. Whatever it is, it's good and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a great haunted house story and even folks like myself who usually can't stand them.