Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Havoc: OFFERINGS (1989)

I love me some 80s slashers but the late-to-the game slasher OFFERINGS always eluded me.  I’d seen the amazing artwork of some psycho’s hands gripping a present dripping blood so many times that my mind probably built it up better than the film could ever be. There has to be a severed head in that box, right?  I mean, the dimensions match and everything.  So when I finally got a hold of a copy of this bad boy during the great video store raids of 2008 (“all VHS 50 cents each”) I felt my life as a slasher geek was finally complete.

I eventually got around to watching it this Halloween season and I was disappointed after finally seeing it because I had seen it before - under the title HALLOWEEN! Seriously, this rips off so much of John Carpenter's ground breaking classic that I was surprised it didn't say "a Rob Zombie film" in the opening credits. Everything from Carpenter's film is in here from the heavy breathing guy standing behind trees to the boarded up killer's house (where someone apparently still does the lawn). Hell, the musical score is Carpenter's work but played at a different tempo. The only major difference is the girls in this speak in a Valley Girl tone. I guess the fad finally hit Oklahoma, where this was lensed, in the late 80s.

Mute kid Johnny lives with his abusive mother (who likes to put the ashes of her cigarettes in his scrambled eggs).  The docs say he is smart, but homeboy won’t talk and he likes to torture animals. “You’re siiiiiiiiiiick,” screams mom as she says he will grow up to be like his “good for nothing father” who tried to slit her throat. Gee, I wonder why he tried to do that to this screeching witch.  Whatever, mom, take it to Jerry Springer. Johnny’s only friend is Gretchen and she shows up to play just in time to get him away from his mom’s tongue lashing. Johnny and Gretchen are taunted by some neighborhood kids and he accidentally falls down a well and cracks his skull (off screen).  Okay, looks like director Christopher Reynolds also saw PROM NIGHT (1980) during his research.

Insert "Ten Years Later" title card. The grown Johnny is now housed in a mental institution after having killed and eaten his mother following his Jackie Chan skull smack.  Damn, I guess his mom was right.  He is supposed to be kept under constant sedation but the nurse is distracted and pays for it by getting a syringe in the forehead. Apparently that will kill you.  Johnny escapes from the institution by climbing over the electric fence and heads back to his hometown to get revenge on the kids who tormented him. Totally bad news as the grown Gretchen (Loretta Leigh Bowman) and Kacy (Elizabeth Greene) are, like, totally having a sleepover. Ohmygawd! Slowly on Johnny’s trail are Sheriff Chisum (G. Michael Smith) and Prof. Sam Loomis, er, Jim Paxton (Jerry Brewer).

If you want the rest of the plot, just replay HALLOWEEN in your head.  This contains each and every bit from Carpenter’s film.  So much so that I created this handy checklist for the more discerning cinemasochists:

So, as you can see, OFFERINGS tops HALLOWEEN in the “kid busted reading porn mags” department (and they don’t have the decency to show us any of the nudie pics).  Director Christopher Reynolds mimics Carpenter’s film from beginning to end, but does add his own “creative” inventions in order to make some claim of ownership.  The biggest one is that Michael, er, Johnny keeps making offerings to his beloved Gretchen like a love-sick puppy. Apparently the part of his brain responsible for romance took the biggest hit because my experience has shown chicks never react favorable to gifts of human body parts.  Well, severed human body parts.  It does result in a howler of a line from the Sheriff as the girls call him and he shows up and says, “What’s all this I hear about an ear?”  Even funnier is he says he can’t determine if it is real until “the lab analyzes it.” Director Reynolds cameos in a hospital scene as a doctor. He also delivers the film's most memorable lines: "The one you need to look out for is Mr. Franks. Every time he craps, he thinks he is having an abortion. Man, he sure has had some ugly kids." The film’s biggest disappointment?  No bloody birthday box.  I’m pissed.

1 Reactions:

  1. How have I never seen this film! That little kid looks like a very young Anthony Michael Hall btw. I must see this! Love your horror picks!


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