Burnt Offerings (1976)

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A vampiric house feeds on its caretaker family.


Horror, Supernatural


Marian - Karen Black

Ben - Oliver Reed

Brother - Burgess Meredith

Roz - Eileen Heckart

David - Lee H. Montgomery

Walker - Dub Taylor

Aunt Elizabeth - Bette Davis

Ben's Father - Joseph Riley

Young Ben - Todd Turquand

Minister - Orin Cannon

Dr. Ross - Jim Myers

The Chauffeur - Anthony James

Character thumbnails with links to profiles

Detailed Synopsis

Ben, Marian and David drive to the house on 17 Shore Road and are shocked to see how large it is. They knock on the door a few times and eventually Walker answers the door and lets them in. He has them sit in the waiting room, while he gets Brother and Roz. David asks if he can play outside and Ben tells him to stay close to the area. Marian walks around the house and enters the greenery which is full of dead plants. Ben and Marian then look at a series of photographs of the same scene, the house, but at different periods of time. Roz comes downstairs and meets Marian and Ben and Roz is happy to hear they have a young son. Marian tells Roz that Aunt Elizabeth will also be staying with them and Roz asks if they will take the place from the 1st of July until Labor Day. When Ben is hesitant about being able to maintain upkeep of the house, Roz assures him the house takes care of itself. Roz helps Brother with the broken wheelchair lift and wheels him into the room. Roz tells Brother that Marian and Ben have a son and Brother asks to look at him through the window. He watches as David is playing and falls and hurts himself and when Ben offers to bring David inside, Brother insists David can stay and play outside. Roz and Brother then tell Marian and Ben that the house will still exist long after they are gone and that it is practically immortal. They then tell them that the only catch is that Roz and Brother's mother will stay in the house and they will need to make three meals for her a day. Walker comes into the main room holding a dead plant and Brother asks him where he is going with it. When Walker tells him it is dead, Brother tells him to look again, and some of the dead leaves have turned green.

Ben, Marian and David go home to think about it and Ben has reservations about renting the house. Ben calls Roz and tells her they would like to rent the house and on July 1st, Ben, Marian, Aunt Elizabeth and David drive to the house. When they arrive, Roz and Brother have already left. Marian goes to look on the mother when she finds a locked door and a room upstairs filled with photos of people from different time periods. She knocks at the door, but no one answers it. Marian tells Ben and Elizabeth that the stairs up to the mother's room is out of bounds. Elizabeth comments that none of the clocks are working as they follow David into the kitchen. They find the kitchen and pantry filled with food and beverages, but the light doesn't work in the pantry. Ben cuts his thumb opening the champagne bottle and David goes into the pantry and the light turns on as he flips the switch. Marian goes upstairs and finds the food she left uneaten. Ben and David return to the house from town and find Marian has done an amazing job of cleaning and fixing the house. Ben and David fix the pool and later find the Allardyce family graveyard and Ben notices there aren't any new gravestone since the 1890's while David finds a kid's bike. Marian notices that the food again hasn't been eaten. She later goes back to the room outside of mother's room and smiles at the half eaten food. Marian sits and listens to the music box in the room outside of mother's room and becomes entranced. Ben and David go swimming in the pool and Ben notices his glasses are suddenly broken. He and David start rough housing in the pool and Ben starts to hold David in the water until he starts to drown and struggle. David finally hits Ben in the face with his swimming goggle and gets out of the pool.

That night, Ben has a dream of his mother's funeral and The Chauffeur who took him and his father to the funeral and later, Ben saw grinning. Marian wakes up to find Ben out of bed and comforts him about what he did to David in the pool. Marian goes outside the next day and finds the fountain restored along with the pool. Elizabeth tells Marian and Ben that David has decided to take up painting and Ben and David awkwardly shake hands and hug. Later at night Marian finds Ben sitting outside of the pool. They jump into the pool and when Ben tries to have sex with Marian she resists after looking up at the house. The next morning, Ben notices Marian is wearing new clothes and she tells him she found them in a closet and when he asks where she was last night, she tells him she slept in a chair outside of the mother's room. Elizabeth comes downstairs and tells Marian she feels exhausted. Elizabeth notices her hair is turning gray again and sees that Marian's is starting to show gray too. When Elizabeth hears that David wants to go on a hike with her, she says she just wants to take a nap, and Marian tells her she should. Elizabeth brings one of her paintings up to the room outside of mother's room and finds Marian in mother's room. Marian tells her the Allardyce mother is sleeping and hurries Elizabeth away. After cutting away brush, Ben imagines seeing The Chauffeur drive up and smile at him. During the night all of the clocks suddenly start to work. Ben hears them working and as he is staring at a clock he hears the sound of gas escaping in David's room. He tries to open the door and finds it locked and has to break it down in order to pull David out, who is already suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. An older looking Elizabeth walks into the room where David is getting air and Ben tells her the gas heater was left on with the door closed and window closed.

The next day Elizabeth tells Marian she had checked on David that night, but didn't turn the gas heater on. Marian starts to accuse Elizabeth of not remembering what she did, which upsets Elizabeth. Ben goes to visit Elizabeth and she tells him she wouldn't do anything to hurt David and she wants to leave the house. Ben goes to find Marian and confronts her about accusing Elizabeth about lying. Ben sees the photos of various people and Marian calls it the mother's collection. Later, David is holding a large glass bowl and accidentally drops it when Marian walks into the room. Marian yells at David and then cries and holds pieces of the bowl against her cheek. Elizabeth is lying in bed when her back snaps. Ben asks Marian if the house is more important than her family and mentions leaving the house early. David yells for Ben and Marian and tells them something is wrong with Elizabeth. Ben goes to make a call for a doctor and then returns to the room and tells Marian all of the numbers are busy including the operator. Marian goes to try the numbers and comes back and says she was able to make a call. Marian then goes upstairs to the room outside of mother's room and eats the food left for mother. Before anyone arrives, Elizabeth dies as she and Ben have a vision of The Chauffeur barging into the room and carrying a coffin. Marian goes into the greenery and finds all of the plants vibrant and blooming. Ben and David go to Elizabeth's funeral and listen to the Minister, give her eulogy. They return to the house and Ben angrily confronts Marian about not going to Elizabeth's funeral and showing no sorrow at her passing. He goes upstairs and demands to see the Allardyce mother and then tells Marian they are leaving. Marian tells him what they had was nothing and he tells her he and David are leaving the next day, with or without her.

During the night, Ben wakes up to noise and tells David the house is repairing itself. They run outside and get into the car and drive out. As they are trying to escape, a large tree falls into the road. As Ben tries to break the tree, it starts attacking him. He gets back into the car and starts ramming the tree over and over until he becomes catatonic after realizing Marian is part of everything that is happening and she turns into The Chauffer. Dr. Ross tells Marian that Ben will have to be brought to a hospital to get the treatment he needs, and Marian tells him she will take care of Ben. David asks if Ben is going to be okay and Marian tells him Dr. Ross said he just needed rest and then tells him, Ben will be better off staying at the house. The next day as David is swimming in the pool, the waves start to churn around him. Marian sees him and starts to run outside while Ben struggles to get onto his feet. Marian jumps into the pool and saves David and pulls him out of the pool. David says he wants to leave and Marian agrees to leave. They get into the car and as they are about to leave, Marian decides she needs to say something to the Allardyce mother. As Marian walks into the house, she notices the beauty of it again. After some time, Ben decides to go into the house to find Marian. He goes to the mother's room and opens the door. Inside is what appears to be an old woman who doesn't respond when he asks her if she has seen Marian. He then turns her around and sees that Marian has now transformed into the Allardyce mother. Ben then goes flying out the window and lands on the car windshield. David runs out of the car and starts calling for Marian. A chimney then collapses and crushes him. Roz and Brother return to the house and note how restored it is and how their mother has come back in all of her glory. On the table of photographs are two new photographs of Ben, David and Elizabeth and on the wall is a new photograph of the house.