Burnt Offerings (1976)

PG | 115 mins | Horror | 25 August 1976

Director:

Dan Curtis

Producer:

Dan Curtis

Cinematographer:

Jacques Marquette

Editor:

Dennis Virkler

Production Designer:

Eugene Lourie

Production Company:

P. E. A. Films Inc.
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HISTORY

       According to an item in the 11 Dec 1969 issue of Var, Bob Fosse was signed to direct Burnt Offerings, which was to have been produced by Turman Films in association with Cinema Center Films. Lawrence Turman was to have served as executive producer, and the script was to be written by playwright and first time screenwriter Robert Marasco. Marasco’s 1973 novel of the same title was published by Delacorte Press, and served as the basis of the 1977 screen adaptation. The novel may have been based on Marasco’s unproduced screenplay.
       An article in the Mar 1976 International Photographer stated that the movie was filmed entirely at Dunsmuir House in Oakland, CA. The house was built in 1899 for over $350,000 for Alexander Dunsmuir as a wedding present to his wife. The house proved unlucky for both of them. Dunsmuir never lived there because he died on his honeymoon and his wife died in the house eighteen months later of cancer. After various owners, it was bought by the city of Oakland in 1962. The house and the grounds are part of a park that is open to the public.
       The article also said that, for the film, many of the 37 rooms in the house were re-papered from a stark white fine linen wall covering to a distinctive dark pattern to give a foreboding mood. Although the Dunsmuir House pool had been damaged in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, it was filled and used for several sequences in the film. After the production, everything about the house was returned to its original condition except for the greenhouse set that ... More Less

       According to an item in the 11 Dec 1969 issue of Var, Bob Fosse was signed to direct Burnt Offerings, which was to have been produced by Turman Films in association with Cinema Center Films. Lawrence Turman was to have served as executive producer, and the script was to be written by playwright and first time screenwriter Robert Marasco. Marasco’s 1973 novel of the same title was published by Delacorte Press, and served as the basis of the 1977 screen adaptation. The novel may have been based on Marasco’s unproduced screenplay.
       An article in the Mar 1976 International Photographer stated that the movie was filmed entirely at Dunsmuir House in Oakland, CA. The house was built in 1899 for over $350,000 for Alexander Dunsmuir as a wedding present to his wife. The house proved unlucky for both of them. Dunsmuir never lived there because he died on his honeymoon and his wife died in the house eighteen months later of cancer. After various owners, it was bought by the city of Oakland in 1962. The house and the grounds are part of a park that is open to the public.
       The article also said that, for the film, many of the 37 rooms in the house were re-papered from a stark white fine linen wall covering to a distinctive dark pattern to give a foreboding mood. Although the Dunsmuir House pool had been damaged in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, it was filled and used for several sequences in the film. After the production, everything about the house was returned to its original condition except for the greenhouse set that was built for the movie and donated to the park after shooting.
       Burnt Offerings won three awards from the Academy of Science Fiction Fantasy and Horror Films: Best Horror Film, Best Supporting Actress (Bette Davis) and Best Director.
       Per the 22 Feb 1978 HR, Burnt Offerings was awarded the Gold Carnation Medal Sitges at the 10th annual Festival Internacional de Cine Fantastico y de Terror in Sitges, Spain.
      The end credits include the following statement: "Filmed at Dunsmuir House and Gardens, Oakland, California."
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 1976
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Feb 1977.
---
International Photographer
Mar 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Aug 1976
p. 13.
New York Times
30 Sep 1976
p. 36.
Variety
11 Dec 1969.
---
Variety
25 Aug 1976
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
P. E. A. Films Inc. Presents
A Film by Dan Curtis
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
Prod in assoc with
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
Still photog
Key grip
Family portraits
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Const coord
Props
Props
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus box theme
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd re-rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles and opticals by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Casting
Asst to the prod
Prod exec
Loc auditor
Scr supv
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod secy
Prod secy
Transportation capt
Prod services by
STAND INS
Stunts
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco (New York, 1973).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Killhouse
Release Date:
25 August 1976
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 25 August 1976
New York opening: 29 September 1976
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
29 April 1976
Copyright Number:
LP46792
Physical Properties:
Sound
color by deluxe®
Color
Lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
115
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Ben and Marion Rolf and their son, twelve-year-old Davey, drive to a remote and rundown Victorian mansion that was advertised for a summer rental. Walker, the handyman, answers their knock at the door and lets them look around. Davey plays outside while Ben and Marion find a greenhouse full of dead flowers. Roz Allardyce, a woman in her late fifties, greets the Rolfs, and the couple informs her that Ben’s Aunt Elizabeth will also be joining them for the summer. After Roz and Ben negotiate the oddly low rental price of $900, they are joined by Roz's wheelchair-bound brother, Arnold. The two siblings rave about how the house is "practically immortal." Also, Arnold and Roz tell the Rolfs that their eighty-five year old mother is living upstairs, and they will have to take food to her every day over the summer. Davey, bleeding, comes inside after being hurt. Everyone except Arnold leave to help Davey clean the cut. When Walker passes by to throw out a dead potted plant, Arnold tells him that the plant isn’t dead. Surprisingly, Walker notices a new leaf is growing in the pot. A few days later, the Rolfs come back with seventy-four-year-old Elizabeth to find the mansion's key and a note saying that Arnold and Roz had to leave. Ben is upset that they didn’t include a number where to reach them. Marion goes to the upstairs parlor and knocks on Mrs. Allardyce’s bedroom door. Getting no answer, she draws back the parlor curtains to let more light in and admires a table full of old photos and a music box. Noticing a tray of dirty dishes, Marion carries them downstairs. Marion tells ... +


Ben and Marion Rolf and their son, twelve-year-old Davey, drive to a remote and rundown Victorian mansion that was advertised for a summer rental. Walker, the handyman, answers their knock at the door and lets them look around. Davey plays outside while Ben and Marion find a greenhouse full of dead flowers. Roz Allardyce, a woman in her late fifties, greets the Rolfs, and the couple informs her that Ben’s Aunt Elizabeth will also be joining them for the summer. After Roz and Ben negotiate the oddly low rental price of $900, they are joined by Roz's wheelchair-bound brother, Arnold. The two siblings rave about how the house is "practically immortal." Also, Arnold and Roz tell the Rolfs that their eighty-five year old mother is living upstairs, and they will have to take food to her every day over the summer. Davey, bleeding, comes inside after being hurt. Everyone except Arnold leave to help Davey clean the cut. When Walker passes by to throw out a dead potted plant, Arnold tells him that the plant isn’t dead. Surprisingly, Walker notices a new leaf is growing in the pot. A few days later, the Rolfs come back with seventy-four-year-old Elizabeth to find the mansion's key and a note saying that Arnold and Roz had to leave. Ben is upset that they didn’t include a number where to reach them. Marion goes to the upstairs parlor and knocks on Mrs. Allardyce’s bedroom door. Getting no answer, she draws back the parlor curtains to let more light in and admires a table full of old photos and a music box. Noticing a tray of dirty dishes, Marion carries them downstairs. Marion tells Ben she didn’t see Mrs. Allardyce and then declares that the third floor is off bounds to everybody except her. The old lady will be Marion’s responsibility. Elizabeth then declares that all the clocks in the house have stopped working. The next day, Ben and Davey restore a dilapidated pool, and then find the Allardyce family graveyard while exploring the surrounding woods. Ben notices there are no graves more recent than 1890. A week passes and still Mrs. Allardyce doesn’t respond to Marion’s knocking. Also, her tray is barely touched. Marion opens the music box and a dreamy expression crosses her face as the music plays. Meanwhile, Elizabeth, Davey and Ben are at the pool. Ben dives in and finds a pair of broken glasses that he puts on. Davey jumps in and, although the boy can't swim, Ben lets his son somersault off his shoulders. Suddenly, Ben thrusts Davey down and holds him under the water. Ben doesn't let go until Davey hits him in the face with his scuba mask. During the night, Ben dreams he is a boy and is being driven to his mother's funeral by a skeletal chauffeur with an evil grin. The next morning, Marion goes to the pool where she is shocked to see that it looks brand new. In the living room, Ben apologizes to Davey. That evening, Marion finds Ben by the pool, which she suggests that she polished up to look new. At Marion's cajoling, Ben jumps in and, a minute later, she strips down and joins him. They embrace, but Marion quickly pushes him away and gets out. Ben follows and tries to make love to his wife on the front lawn, but when Marion sees lights on in the old lady’s room, she runs away. Going into the parlor, Marion opens the music box and falls asleep. The next morning in the kitchen, Elizabeth complains to Marion that the summer vacation is wearing her out. Elizabeth also notices the new gray growing in Marion's hair. Then, instead of taking a nap, Elizabeth brings Mrs. Allardyce a picture she has painted of the house. Elizabeth can barely climb the stairs without collapsing. Responding to Elizabeth's knocking on the parlor door, Marion says that Mrs. Allaradyce is asleep. Out front, Ben sees a model T hearse drive up that is being driven by the grinning chauffer from his nightmare. Ben covers his face and, when he looks again, the hearse has disappeared. At midnight, all the clocks reset by themselves and chime the hour. Waking up, Ben smells gas coming from a heater in Davey’s room. Ben kicks the locked door down and carries Davey out to a hallway window. After turning off the gas, Ben smashes out a stuck bedroom window with a baseball bat. In the morning, Elizabeth confesses to Marion that she was in Davey's room, but did not touch the gas. Marion demands to know what else Elizabeth did, as someone locked the door and closed the window. When Elizabeth wonders if Mrs. Allardyce did it, Marion explodes. Later, Ben finds Elizabeth crying in her room and looking twenty years older. She wants to leave the house, but when Ben asks her to come down so Marion can apologize, she says she will later. In the parlor, Ben finds Marion, wearing an antique broach and shawl, who insists Elizabeth had something to do with Davey’s accident. When Ben asks why he can’t meet the old lady, Marion says that Mrs. Allaradyce is sleeping. Meanwhile, Elizabeth sits up in bed, and a loud crack of breaking bones is heard. At dinner, Ben asks Marion if she would leave the house if he asked her too. She says he’s being ridiculous. Davey yells for help and Ben and Marion find Elizabeth writhing in pain. Ben runs downstairs to phone for help, but the line is busy. Marion then tries the phone and comes back saying that the doctor is on the way. Ben asks Marion to wait downstairs, but instead she goes to the parlor, opens the music box and eats Mrs. Allardyce’s food. Sitting with Elizabeth, Ben hears a car coming, which he sees out the window is the model T hearse. Elizabeth's bedroom door bangs open and the grinning chauffer thrusts a coffin at them. Meanwhile, Marion goes into the hothouse where the flowers are in full bloom. After Elizabeth’s funeral, Ben and Davey find Marion dressed in Victorian attire. Marion says she couldn't go to the funeral because she couldn’t leave Mrs. Allardyce alone. Although Marion has made a candlelight dinner, she storms out when Ben says he’s not hungry. Ben follows her and insists on meeting the old lady. Marion claims she can’t open the door as Mrs. Allardyce has the only key. Ben tells her they’re leaving in the morning and, although Marion says she can’t leave the old lady alone, he claims that in any event he and Davey are going. That night, Ben is awakened by the sound of bricks, tiles and siding that are falling off the house. Ben grabs Davey, runs to the car, and drives off. However, a tree falls, blocking his path. Unable to lift the tree, Ben tries to ram it out of the way with the car, but hits his head on the steering wheel. Marion climbs into the car and drives them back to the house. When Ben looks at her, he sees the chauffer grinning back at him. A doctor comes and says that Ben needs to go to a hospital. When Davey asks Marion if they are going home, she says his father is better off staying put. The next day, a comatose Ben sits by the pool in a wheelchair. Davey jumps in the pool, which begins to churn with giant waves. Marion sees her imperiled son from inside his bedroom, but can't open the window. Ben tries to move, but only falls out of the chair. Marion runs downstairs and smashes a window to get out of the house. She runs to the pool, dives in and rescues Davey. She hugs her husband and son and says they are leaving today. Although Marion gets in the car with her family, she quickly gets out, insisting she has to give Mrs. Allardyce their phone number. When Marion doesn’t return, Ben goes after her. Finding Mrs. Allardyce’s door unlocked, Ben looks in to see the back of a white haired woman in a wheelchair. He asks where Marion is. Not getting an answer, he swings the chair around, and discovers that the old woman is Marion. Ben crashes through the bedroom window and lands on the car's windshield below. Davey yells for his Mom, but the chimney collapses, killing him. Later the Allardyce siblings return. The house looks entirely new and the flowers are all blooming. Arnold says that their mother has been restored to her full glory. In the parlor there are four new pictures: Ben, Marion, Davey and Elizabeth. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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