Review: Burnt Offerings
Blu-ray: Burnt Offerings (1976)
College lecturer Ben Rolf (the irrepressible Oliver Reed), his wife Marian (Karen Black) and their son David (Lee Montgomery) rent a sprawling mansion for the summer at a very cheap price. Accompanied by Aunt Elizabeth (Bette Davis) they discover that the bargain they thought they had acquired is slowly turning into a living nightmare that they may never escape.
Burnt Offerings is a classic example of a 1970’s genre movie; lots of time for characterisation and the progression of storyline without an over reliance on exposition. This movie is the epitomization of the term ‘a slow burner’.
Beginning with a short but memorable appearance by Eileen Heckart and Burgess Meredith (oh how I would have loved for him to shout at Olly Reed; “You’re gonna eat lightning and you’re gonna crap thunder”) who play custodians of the house Roz and Arnold Allardyce, they rent the house to the Rolf family for the bargain sum of $900 for the entire summer. Ignoring what would normally be an alarm that something was amiss, the Rolf family move in and proceed to make themselves at home. What they don’t realise is that the home is making ITSELF at home with the arrival of new occupants. Through the pain and distress of those who dwell there, the house uses this negative energy to renew itself. What begins as a lightbulb being able to work once again due to David Rolf scuffing his knee while playing outside, escalates to much greater things whereby the house is literally shedding its skin to reveal new tiles and woodwork underneath what was once a decaying facade.
Despite its slow start (which may lead some to turn off the movie prematurely) Burnt Offerings builds to a climax that while not entirely unforeseen, is still shocking and most definitely VERY memorable. The movie contains some superb sequences that will have you gripping the arms of your chair; non more so than when Ben and David are in the swimming pool together. I will say no more than that so as not too spoil it for you, but I will say that I was genuinely scared for Lee Montgomery’s life knowing how Olly Reed can be on set!
Burnt Offerings is a fantastic Horror/Thriller accompanied by strong performances from the entire cast and a story that slowly drags you into its dark depths. Also watch out for the mansion that the Rolf family rent as you may have seen it somewhere before. I’ll give you one clue; “BOOOOOOOOYYYYYYY”.
As always with Arrow Films releases, you not only get superb picture and sound from all of their movies, you also get an unprecedented amount of special features to accompany the movie. Burnt Offerings is no different and once again these are worth the purchase price on their own.
Burnt Offerings will be available to buy from October 17th, 2016.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the feature, transferred from original film elements by MGM
- Original uncompressed PCM mono audio
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Audio commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith
- Audio commentary with director/co-writer/producer Dan Curtis, actress Karen Black and co-screenwriter William F. Nolan
- Acting His Face, an interview with actor Anthony James
- Blood Ties, an interview with actor Lee Montgomery
- From the Ashes, an interview with screenwriter William F. Nolan
- Portraits of Fear, an animated gallery of promotional materials and behind-the-scenes stills
- Theatrical trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Haunt Love
First pressing only: Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Kat Ellinger
Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Arrow Films.