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Burnt Offerings 1976 ***

 

Dan Curtis’s horror film has become something of a seminal work, influencing Stephen King’s various descriptions of houses as killers, or as King deems it in his excellent book Dance Macabre, ‘the bad place’. Adapted from Robert Masasco’s novel, Burnt Offerings sees couple Marian and Ben (Karen Black and Oliver Reed) moving into a remote summer-house which seems to have a mind of its own. Bette Davis is on hand as Aunt Elizabeth to add warnings about the crushing weight of the past, with Burgess Meredith and Eileen Heckart on hand. Not a haunted house movie, Burnt Offerings offers something fresh in a direct physical conflict between an inanimate object and humans. Much like Black’s battle with the Zuni doll in Trilogy of Terror, these practical threats have more impact than any amount of spiritual mumbo-jumbo.

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