BURNT OFFERINGS Rental health problems
released 17 OctOber 1976 | 15 | blu-ray & dVd (dual format) Director dan curtis Cast Karen black, Oliver reed, lee Montgomery, bette davis
Dan Curtis, creator of gothic soap Dark Shadows, brings us a different kind of vampire in this overlooked horror: an old mansion that feeds on the lifeforce of its occupants. That’s bad news for the Rolf family, who rent the place one summer.
As this family of three is gradually torn apart, with mum (Karen Black) increasingly obsessive and dad (Oliver Reed) inexplicably aggressive to their young son, the film often feels like a precursor to The Shining – especially since Reed’s twitchy crack-up acting rivals Jack Nicholson’s. No wonder the original novel is recommended in Stephen King’s Danse Macabre.
At a stretch you could read it as a critique of our modern-day obsession with property. But it also works just fine as a doom-laden gothic chiller with an effective shock ending.
Extras Interviews with two cast and writer William F Nolan (47 minutes) provide interesting anecdotes about Oliver Reed (whose entourage got child actor Lee Montgomery drunk!) and co-star Bette Davis. An old commentary by Curtis, Nolan and Black is backed up by a somewhat rambling one by Video Watchdog writer Richard Harland Smith. Plus: gallery; trailer; booklet. Ian Berriman
The same house – Dunsmuir House in Oakland, California – was later used as the mausoleum in 1979 horror Phantasm.
Hallucinating Ollie gripped the bottle.