1989 was full of uncertainty. Like George Michael’s sexuality for instance, and this oddball black comedy slasher.
Offerings was a regional horror movie shot in Oklahoma and is a total rip-off of Halloween. However, it also likens itself to Rob Zombie’s remake by giving the killer a motive. It’s also a little bit like Prom Night, Slumber Party Massacre, He Knows You’re Alone (already considered a Halloween rip-off by many), I, Madman (which also came out in 89) and almost any other slasher you might have caught in the 80s. It’s obvious that writer/director Christopher Reynolds was an avid fan of these films, combining many of the best elements of each one. However, Offerings is still quite the mixed bag.
Little John Radley leads a horrible life. Struck mute after his father takes off, he’s stuck with his angry mother who loves to taunt the kid at every turn. In fact, he’s kind of the taunting toy in his small town. It seems no one but pretty little Gretchen likes him. The neighborhood kids lure him to a well and then “accidentally” cause him to fall inside it. Flash forward ten years, and John, who now has some creepy facial scars, is living mostly sedated in a mental hospital. Not only did he fall down that well, but he ended up eating his mother. Talk about pent up aggression! Anyway, the new nurse on duty gets kacked and John escapes, heading back to his old town and to Gretchen. Apparently in his unspoken gratitude and undying love, John has decided to kill the kids who goaded him into the well and remove parts of their body and give them to Gretchen as gifts. Hot on John’s heels are the fatty-boom-balatty sheriff and this Dr. Loomis type who is a college professor.
The weird thing about Offerings is that although it’s a blatant rip-off of Halloween all the way down to the score, it’s also a little unique in the way it plays things out. Unfortunately, as is the case with many regionally shot indies, it’s just not particularly engaging.
The other weird thing about this movie is the copious amounts of black humor, especially in the death scenes. I first saw this movie in the early 90s and remember finding Offerings to be the kind of film where the low budget works in its favor and not against it. A few years later, I picked it up again, out of curiosity and thought the opposite. Upon this last viewing, I fell somewhere in the middle. The humor – like the vice grip scene or the parents eating cake at 3 am in matching robes – are surprisingly well played out, but the overall absurdity falls flat against the rest of the film. That’s too bad, because Offerings had a chance to, uh, offer something fresh to the already tired genre.