Burnt Offerings 1976
"What's the catch?", asks Ben in one of Burnt Offerings' earliest moments. It's a fair question. He and his family have been seeking an escape from the big city for the summer, and the Allardyce estate seems entirely too good to be true. This palatial mansion in the country is in somewhat sad shape but still radiates the majesty of its glory days, and the asking price is a paltry $900 for the entire season. Catch? There's no catch. Well, the family will be responsible for the upkeep of the estate during the summer, as groundskeepers need a break now and then too. Don't worry, though; the house practically takes care of itself. Oh, and the Allardyces' elderly mother isn't in any state to vacation with her children, so the Rolf family won't entirely be alone, although she keeps to her room upstairs and likely won't ever be seen or heard. Just leave a tray of food outside her door three times a day, and all will be right with the world.

Of course they'll take it. Soon enough becomes apparent is that the house is conscious. The more they look after it, the more it rewards them. And the more it rewards them, the more it possesses them. And slowly the family starts to act as if they are not themselves but are the original owners of the place...

Director: Dan Curtis
Cast: Karen Black, Oliver Reed, Burgess Meredith, Lee Montgomery
Country: USA, Italy
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller


• Audio commentary with director/co-writer/producer Dan Curtis, actress Karen Black, and co-screenwriter William F. Nolan
Recorded for the film’s DVD release in the early/mid-2000s, this is a lively commentary featuring the film’s director, one of its stars and the screenwriters. Curtis begins by talking about the first fifteen minutes of the early cut of the film, which corresponded to the opening chapters of Marasco’s source novel which depicted the Rolfs’ daily lives prior to their arrival at the Allardyce house. They discuss the locations used in the film and some of the casting decisions.

• Audio commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith
In another impressive commentary track, Richard Harland Smith discusses the film. He talks about the connotations of the title and the relationship between Marasco’s novel and this film adaptation. He talks about the film’s relationship with Gothic horror fiction. There’s much detailed discussion of the film’s themes too, suggesting that ‘horror films help you understand how good people go bad’. He suggests that the novel was ‘a take on the American dream, on mistaking acquisition for achievement, on being content with having “stuff”’.

• Anthony James: Acting His Face (17:31)
Taking its title from James’ autobiography, this featurette sees the actor reflecting on his career. He talks about his role in In the Heat of the Night (Norman Jewison, 1967) before reflecting on his performance in Burnt Offerings, talking about the discussions he had with Bette Davis on the film’s set. He praises Oliver Reed’s work. James also discusses his work as an artist, and comments on Clint Eastwood’s work as an 'actor’s actor and director', focusing on Unforgiven (Eastwood, 1992), in which James had a role.

• Blood Ties (16:28)
Here, Lee Montgomery talks about his experiences working on the film. He spends some time talking about Curtis’ Dark Shadows before reflecting on the shooting of Burnt Offerings. He says that Oliver Reed ‘wanted to get smacked around. The more he could bleed in the scene, it was awesome’. He discusses Reed’s reputation as a brawler and Reed’s entourage, who called themselves ‘Reed’s Raiders’. He talks about the shooting of the scene in which the vine wraps itself around Ben’s leg and reveals that it was shot in reverse, just like the vine attack in The Evil Dead.

• From the Ashes (13:20)
In this interview with the film’s screenwriter William F Nolan, Nolan reflects on his association with Curtis which began with the television movie The Norliss Tapes in 1973. Nolan discusses the house that Curtis lived in, and which Curtis claimed to be haunted – and which Curtis sold because he was afraid of the experiences escalating. Nolan reflects on the themes of Burnt Offerings and talks about the production itself.

• Portraits of Fear (3:20)
This is an animated gallery of production stills and promotional materials, including the covers for Marasco’s source novel.

• Trailer

BD50 + DVD9 | 1080 AVC, PAL | 01:56:00 | 36.9 Gb + 7.59 Gb + 3% rec
Language: English
Subtitles: English

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