Burnt Offerings (1976)


The movie Burnt Offerings (1976) is a psychological horror film directed by Dan Curtis and based on the 1973 novel of the same name by Robert Marasco. It follows the Rolf family – husband Ben, wife Marian, their son David, and Ben’s aunt Elizabeth – as they rent a gothic mansion for the summer to get away from the city.

The property is maintained by brother and sister team Walker and Roz Allardyce, who live in a caretaker’s cottage on the grounds. Shortly after moving in, the Rolfs notice strange things happening around the house.

Marian becomes obsessed with the place and spends more time alone inside while her family members start experiencing bizarre physical and mental changes. The movie Burnt Offerings (1976) slowly reveals that the mansion seems to possess and rejuvenate Marian as it causes the other family members to age, decay, and eventually die. Ben’s charming and vivacious aunt rapidly declines into a weak, bed-ridden old woman. The house needs fresh souls to restore its splendor.


  • Karen Black as Marian Rolf
  • Oliver Reed as Ben Rolf
  • Bette Davis as Aunt Elizabeth
  • Burgess Meredith as Uncle Arnold
  • Lee Montgomery as David Rolf
  • Eileen Heckart as Roz Allardyce


  • The movie was filmed at a real Victorian mansion in California called Dunsmuir House.
  • Karen Black stayed in character the whole shoot and even isolated herself from the other actors.
  • Bette Davis was in poor health during filming but wanted to work with Karen Black.


“It is a nice creepy story with slow-burn horror. Great for an alternative to the haunted house story. “ [1]

“Burnt Offerings doesn’t seek to subvert haunted house tropes nor does it attempt to expand the boundaries of the genre. Instead, it excavates, digging deep into the trappings of classic haunted house stories and holding them up to examine each detail with its unflinching eye. The end result is not one of the best haunted house movies ever made, it’s also a brilliant class metaphor.” [2]

“It’s not a perfect film, but Burnt Offerings has more going for it than Mr. Ebert and other dissident reviewers may suggest.” [3]


[1] https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/10/october-horror-movie-challenge-burnt.html
[2] https://horrorobsessive.com/2022/10/17/burnt-offerings-1976-the-rich-eat-you/
[3] https://www.fearsomequeer.net/blog/danse-macabre-film-review-burnt-offerings-1976

Last updated byCody Meirick on November 13, 2023