It influenced Stephen King's seminal horror novel, The Shining, and was the basis for a 1976 film starring Karen Black and Oliver Reed. Valancourt Books is now paying tribute to one of the most notable haunted house stories ever put to paper with their new edition of Robert Marasco's Burnt Offerings, featuring an introduction by Stephen Graham Jones. If you haven't picked up a copy yet, we have an excerpt from the 1973 horror novel in our latest round-up, along with details on how you can be a volunteer at this year's Stanley Film Festival and a look at images from the Great Lakes-set horror film, The Dark Below, which recently wrapped principal photography.
Burnt Offerings: "Ben and Marian Rolfe are desperate to escape a stifling summer in their cramped and noisy Queens apartment, so when they get the chance to rent a mansion in upstate New York for the entire summer for only $900, it’s an offer that’s too good to refuse. There’s only one catch: behind a strange and intricately carved door in a distant wing of the house lives elderly Mrs. Allardyce, and the Rolfes will be responsible for preparing her meals.
But Mrs. Allardyce never seems to emerge from her room, and it soon becomes clear that something weird and terrifying is happening in the house. As the suspense builds towards a revelation of what really lies behind that locked door, the Rolfes will discover that their cheap vacation rental comes at a terrible cost . . .
The basis for a classic 1976 film adaptation and an acknowledged influence on Stephen King’s The Shining, Burnt Offerings is one of the most original and scariest haunted house novels ever written. This edition, the first in decades, features a new introduction by award-winning author Stephen Graham Jones.
About the author:
Robert Marasco was born in the Bronx in 1936 and educated at Regis High School in Manhattan and Fordham University. A classical scholar, Marasco taught at Regis before turning to writing, with Child’s Play, an eerie melodrama about incidents of evil at a Catholic boys’ school. The play was a surprise success in 1970, running for 343 performances on Broadway and earning a Tony Award nomination for best play of the year, and was adapted for a 1972 film.
Marasco also wrote two novels: Burnt Offerings (1973) and Parlor Games (1979). Burnt Offerings was a bestseller and spawned a 1976 film adaptation directed by Dan Curtis and starring Oliver Reed, Karen Black, and Bette Davis.
Marasco died of lung cancer in 1998."
To learn more, visit:
There was a dream—the playback of an image really—which had been recurring, whenever he was on the verge of illness, ever since his childhood. The dream itself was a symptom of illness, as valid as an ache or a queasy feeling or a fever. The details were always the same: the throbbing first, like a heartbeat, which became the sound of a motor idling; then the limousine; then, behind the tinted glass, the vague figure of the chauffeur.
He could trace, with some certitude, the genesis of the nightmare, or the image. When he was young, he had seen a black limousine idling outside his building, in the rain. There had been a death in a neighboring apartment, the first death he could remember hearing about, and the limousine had come for the family. The sound stuck in his head, and the image, all black and gray, and even now if Ben were asked: What’s death?—he’d have to say a black limousine with its motor idling and a chauffeur waiting behind the tinted glass. Only half joking, or a quarter.
On the two occasions when he had been given an anaesthetic, it was the same image, appearing at the last moment of consciousness, that had finally put him under.
It had come to him again tonight—at least the beginnings of it: the throbbing, like a first, alarming wave of sickness. It stopped as soon as he opened his eyes—the sound did, anyway; the throbbing persisted as a sharp pain between his eyes, somewhere in the middle of his head. He got out of bed quietly and paced a while; then went downstairs and paced a while longer on the terrace, looking in the direction of the pool which was invisible beyond the dark slope of the lawn.
When Marian found him, he was sitting in the living room, just outside the lamp’s small circle of light. She was wearing a green silk robe over her nightgown.
“How long have you been down here?” she asked him from the doorway, and she made it sound very gentle and sympathetic.
“I don’t know,” Ben said. He was playing with a cigarette, shaping the lighted end in the small rose medallion bowl he was using as an ashtray.
“It’s after two.”
She was obviously intruding, but she came toward him anyway, the silk billowing. “Did you sleep at all?”
He shrugged and said, “Some.”
“Want to come back and try some more?”
“In a while, maybe.”
She stood beside him for a moment; his upper lip was split and swollen, and he was having trouble drawing on the cigarette. “Must you smoke?” she said.
“Why?” he asked, without looking up. “Is it wrong for the room?”
She smiled and let it pass, lowering herself in front of the armchair and laying her hand on his bare knee which was sticking out from under the terrycloth robe. A breeze blew in through the open terrace door, smelling of rain. Marian gripped his knee and then ran her hand down his leg, soothingly. “Brooding about it isn’t going to help, you know.”
He waited before he said, dully, “What is?”
“Look,” she said, and her hand tightened on his leg for emphasis, “can I say it again? It was bound to get out of control sooner or later. I’ve seen the way you two fool around. You’re too rough. How many times have I told you that?”
“This wasn’t the same thing,” Ben said, as though he had already said it several times that day.
“Ben, of course it was. The roughhouse just got out of hand.”
“That’s the word.”
“You weren’t there, for Chrissake.” He stubbed his cigarette roughly, splitting it, and Marian tried not to be distracted by the rose medallion bowl, or the tiny heaps of ash on the surface of the table which was japanned maple.
“No,” she admitted guiltily, “I wasn’t there.”
“I can’t get it out of my head,” Ben said. “Christ, it’s all I can think about.”
“That’s just the trouble,” Marian said.
He leaned forward and reached for her wrist. “I swear, Marian, I don’t understand what happened to me out there. Maybe I blacked out or went crazy or something, I don’t know—but I couldn’t control myself, I didn’t know what I was doing. Hell, it’s worse. I did know, and I couldn’t stop myself. That’s the most frightening part of it. Why? Why would I want to hurt my own son?”
“I told you, Ben, that’s ridiculous.”
“It’s not,” he insisted, “it’s the truth. I wanted to hurt him. Davey. Jesus! What if I—?”
“What if you nothing,” she cut him off. “Ben, look—David is all right.” She was speaking clearly and deliberately, as if there were a hospital bed between them. “He’s all right.”
“How can he be all right after what I tried to do to him?”
“Darling, that’s all in your mind.”
“It’s not in my mind.” He pulled his hand away suddenly and then brought it up to his mouth and rubbed his upper lip with that painfully reflective, distant look she’d seen in him all day. The breeze was constant now, rising and moving the heavy drapes, faded blue, which she intended to change eventually or at least attempt to repair. He was silent a long while, and so was Marian, listening to the wind and the metallic tap of a chain against a lamp bulb. Finally, Ben asked, very quietly, “What did Aunt Elizabeth tell you?”
Marian shrugged. “Nothing more than you heard her tell me,” she said. “Sometimes you’re worse than a child yourself; you don’t know when to stop.” She smiled. “Amen.”
If it was a lie, then it was one that had to be closer to the actual truth. Aunt Elizabeth was, after all, seventy-four; there had to be some inaccuracy in what she saw and heard, and said (on occasion she rambled, Marian had recently discovered). What she had said, when Marian had pressed her, approximated what Ben himself was saying now. Except for his deliberately wanting to hurt David. She never even suggested that; and if she thought as much and were keeping it from Marian—if that suspicion was what had sent her to her room and kept her there for a good part of the day—well, it made no more sense to Marian than what Ben, overwhelmed with guilt, had somehow brought himself to believe. Insanely. The idea was inconceivable.
“And Davey . . . ?” he asked quietly.
“Resilient,” she said; “you saw that.” Ben had avoided him until Marian had literally pushed them at each other, and the embrace was, for Ben, premature and painful. Later, resilient or not, David bolted down his dinner, and instead of spending the evening in front of the television set in the library, went up to his room.
“As far as he’s concerned,” Marian continued, “it’s exactly what I said it was. The roughhouse got out of hand; you tried to teach him a lesson and you went too far, both of you. Which is all that did happen, whether I was there to see it or not.” She waited for Ben to react, and at least she had penetrated enough for him to look at her; in his face she could read, if not immediate belief, then something like a plea for reassurance. She touched his lip very lightly. “He got himself a good scare and you got yourself a fat lip. Let’s leave it at that and not spend the rest of the summer brooding. Okay, darling?”
The smell of rain had grown stronger, filling the room. In a minute it would pour, and while she kept her eyes on Ben’s face and continued to touch him tenderly, she couldn’t help thinking, Windows; which windows were open? And at the same time, Why should something like that distract her now? She tried to put it out of her mind, and with it the sudden, unnerving thought that she might be minimizing the incident for the sake of the house, to protect their summer. But what she had been saying to Ben was sincere, unquestionably sincere, she assured herself. The idea that he would hurt David was absurd, and it had to be somehow providential that she hadn’t seen the incident (thank God for Mrs. Allardyce) and could be reasonable about it and objective.
She brushed her hair back against her temple, repeating the motion several times. Ben watched her and then ran the back of his fingers against her hair.
“What if it’s not a joke anymore, Marian?” he said. “Not another car incident, or keys, or missing exam papers. What if it’s finally happened . . . ?” He snapped his fingers. “Just like that. Hell, how long can you be on the verge of it?”
“It’s called a breakdown.”
“Oh, for God’s sake, Ben—”
“I blacked out, Marian.” He leaned closer and looked directly at her. “Whether you believe it or not, that’s exactly what happened. I didn’t know what I was doing.”
Stanley Film Festival Volunteers: Press Release - "March 20, 2015 (Denver, CO) - The Stanley Film Festival, presented by NBC Universal's Chiller, is now casting volunteers. The Festival will be held at the historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO April 30 - May 3. Volunteers are an essential component to making this festival a success and we need you. Meet fellow horror and film fans while being a part of this special community event! Positions include guest relations, special events, hospitality lounge, transportation, production and theater operations. Sign up now to be a part of this exciting and creepy festival!
Interested volunteers should follow these quick steps:
1) Visit www.StanleyFilmFest.com/volunteer for detailed instructions.
2) Attend one of the following Volunteer Orientations:
Volunteer Orientation Locations:
Upslope Brewing Company
1898 S. Flatiron Court
Boulder, CO 80301
333 East Wonderview Avenue
Estes Park, CO 80517
Parking available in main lot, follow signs to hotel check- in.
2510 E. Colfax Avenue
Denver, CO 80206
Parking available in the garage located directly above the theater next to Tattered Cover and Twist & Shout.
Stanley Film Festival Volunteer Benefits:
In addition to meeting fun people, supporting horror film and participating in a significant community event, volunteers will receive a voucher for each shift they work. Shifts are usually 3-5 hours long. Vouchers may be exchanged at any of the festival box offices for a regular priced film screening or panel discussion.
Questions? Contact Kristy, Stanley Film Fest Volunteer Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 720-839-6930.
Online & Social Media: www.stanleyfilmfest.com , "Like" SFF on Facebook (Facebook.com/StanleyFilmFest), "Follow" SFF on Twitter and Instagram (@StanleyFilmFest), join the conversation using the hashtag #StanleyFilmFest
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Stanley Film Festival: Set at the notoriously haunted and historic inspiration for Stephen King's THE SHINING, The Stanley Film Festival showcases the best in classic and contemporary horror cinema at the Stanley Hotel in beautiful Estes Park, Colorado. Produced by the Denver Film Society, the festival is a labor of love dedicated to crafting a more interactive experience for genre filmmakers and fans. Presenting emerging artists and established luminaries within the genre, the four-day event features live shows, installations, industry panels, the "Stanley Dean's Cup" student film competition, and spooky secrets within a frightening, yet elegant atmosphere that can function as a true horror summit for all.
The Stanley Hotel: Famous for its old world charm, The Stanley Hotel boasts spectacular views in every direction and is less than six miles from Rocky Mountain National Park. Multi-million dollar renovations have restored this 155-guestroom hotel to its original grandeur. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and member of Historic Hotels of America; only an hour away from Denver, it is ideal destination for a Colorado getaway.
The Stanley Hotel opened in 1909 and it was just two years later that chief housekeeper Elizabeth Wilson was injured in an explosion while she was lighting acetylene lanterns in room 217. She survived the incident, but guests have reported sensing her presence in the room ever since. Other guests have reported lights flicking on and off, doors opening and closing and laughter and footsteps when no one else is around in other rooms and facilities throughout the hotel. The Stanley Hotel is consistently ranked the #1 haunted hotel in the world.
Chiller is an entertainment brand dedicated to delivering round-the-clock scares with its commitment to producing diverse and high-quality horror content. Chiller's eclectic slate of adrenaline-fueled, soul-stirring entertainment includes a broad offering of original movies and specials, genre films, documentary and reality shows (Fear Factor) and some of the most thought-provoking and suspenseful series ever on television (The River, Dead Like Me, Tales from the Darkside, Outer Limits). With its recently-created Chiller Films initiative, Chiller also produces feature films for select theaters and On-Demand. Chiller network is currently available in over 42 million homes. To learn more, visit: www.chillertv.com. Chiller. Scary Good.
The Denver Film Society: Founded in 1978, the Denver Film Society (DFS) is a membership-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit cultural institution that produces film events throughout the year, including the award-winning Starz Denver Film Festival and the popular, summertime series Film on the Rocks. With a vision to cultivate community and transform lives through film, the Film Society provides opportunities for diverse audiences to discover film through creative, thought-provoking experiences.
The permanent home of the Denver Film Society, the Sie FilmCenter, is Denver's only year-round cinematheque, presenting a weekly-changing calendar of first-run exclusives and arthouse revivals both domestic and foreign, narrative and documentary - over 600 per year, all shown in their original language and format. DFS's one-of-a-kind programs annually reach more than 200,000 film lovers and film lovers-in-training.
Grand Heritage Hotel Group: Founded in 1989 by John Cullen, Grand Heritage Hotel Group is one of the nation's premier owner operators of independent luxury hotels and resorts. Its properties are sought-after destinations that offer consistent luxury, quality and exceptional surroundings. Several Grand Heritage properties enjoy prestigious distinction as designated Historic Hotels of America. The company prides itself on the vision and strategic expertise of its leadership. Highly innovative and experienced professionals collectively boast more than 50 years of hands-on experience in all aspects of the hotel and hospitality business and are recognized for imaginative and entrepreneurial style. Grand Heritage owns and operates hotels in North America; it also operates Grand Heritage Hotels International Brand, which has a number of properties in Europe, The Middle East, India and North Africa."
The Dark Below: Press Release - "Dead Wait Productions announce the completion of principle photography for their new genre film the Dark Below. Award winning genre director Douglas Schulze (Mimesis, Dark Fields) and Executive Producer Seth Willenson bring us a survival thriller that explores the fear of entrapment beneath a frozen lake.
The film stars screen veteran Veronica Cartwright (Alien, Witches of Eastwick) and Lauren Shafer (Mimesis) and boasts an authentic production value that took cast and crew into the depths of Michigan’s Great Lakes in the dead of winter.
Producers Schulze and Kurt Eli Mayry previously produced Dark Fields with the late David Carradine that was released domestically by e1 Entertainment. More recently Anchor Bay Entertainment / Starz released their film Mimesis: Night of the Living Dead featuring screen veteran Sid Haig. Mimesis, a thriller about horror fans forced to live a real life horror film has become a cult favorite and is now airing on Showtime networks after a successful video and pay cable release. Mimesis immediately attracted festival and fan attention thru exhibition at over 20 horror festivals worldwide including Shriekfest, New York Horror Fest and the prestigious La Samain Du Cinema Fantastique in France.
The producers are planning to introduce the Dark Below to audiences via the festival circuit before aligning with domestic and international distribution. Visit and follow the action on the official facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/darkbelowmovie"