Saturday, March 1, 2014

BURNT OFFERINGS (1976) movie review

Burnt Offerings (1976) d. Dan Curtis (USA)

With their young son (Ben's Lee Harcourt Montgomery) in tow, Karen Black and Oliver Reed (irretrievably miscast as a “normal” couple) rent a country mansion for the summer and soon become entangled in mysterious goings-on. Predictably directed by TV vet Curtis (Trilogy of Terror) with every surprise telegraphed by Bob Cobert's agonizingly familiar woodwind score, this criminally inert entry in the haunted house pantheon is boring to the point of catatonia.

Saddled with lugubrious pacing, bizarre dream sequences, and a twist ending apparent from within the first fifteen minutes, the cast stumbles around the house for the 116-minute running time looking for the plot and the point. Reed has a couple of fine moments as the wary husband, but even he can’t do much with Curtis and frequent collaborator William F. Nolan's leaden dialogue. (“This house is destroying us!”)

The final tree-falling, chimney-crumbling moments have their rewards, but who can stay awake that long?

Along for the bumpy ride are Burgess Meredith, Eileen Heckart, and a spry Bette Davis, who seems to be having the most fun of anyone. Save yourself a couple hours and check out Robert Marasco’s excellent source novel instead.

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