Offerings (1989)

Remember Him Before He Dismembers You!

Poster image for 1989's Offerings

Young John is peer pressured into “walking the well” by a gang of neighborhood bullies—a local rite of passage that sees him walking along the perimeter of a wishing well. Things take a tragic turn, and he plummets into the darkness below. Flash forward ten years into the future and all the kids that were present that day have grown up and gone about their lives. Even John, who has been institutionalized for a good long while after murdering (and eating) his mother off-camera. He violently busts out of the asylum and prepares for an epic homecoming where he will dish out some cold hard slasher vengeance against those who did him wrong.

Young John from 1989's Offerings

So basically you have a bad kid who is locked away, escapes from a mental institution, and then on the night he comes home, starts killing teenagers. It is Generic Slasher Setup #101, but most of all, OFFERINGS is so derivative of HALLOWEEN right down to the musical score by Russell D. Allen that it feels like a community theater presentation of the John Carpenter classic. It’s a fun and amusing venture, but with little imagination or creativity, it is unlikely to claw its way into your Top Ten list anytime soon.

Torture scene from 1989's Offerings

Like Carpenter’s film, there’s actually very little bloodshed and the worst of the violence is alluded to rather than shown. That works in HALLOWEEN because it is a classy and masterful affair. OFFERINGS is neither, however, so here it is mostly a disappointment. There are a few things that OFFERINGS adds to the storyline, though I’ll leave it up to you if they are in any way improvements.

John isn’t merely some supernatural shape, or faceless mask of evil. The filmmakers actually attempt to explain John’s homicidal tendencies as the result of brain damage suffered during his fall down the well. That would be all fine and good, if he wasn’t already mutilating animals—one of the precursors to serial slaughter—long before that. It was a valiant effort, though.

Some of the bit characters are far over the top, practically cartoonish in nature. There’s a goofy police officer, a creepy mortician, and a dwarf mental patient—all of them there for no other reason except to be weird. Even better is the mental patient who is discussed but never seen: “Every time he takes a crap, he thinks he’s having an abortion. Let me tell you, he’s had some ugly kids.”

By far the most memorable thing that OFFERINGS adds to the slasher syntax is, well, the offerings. John leaves bits and pieces of his victims on the doorstep of pretty Gretchen’s house, as a bizarre thank you for being the only person who was kind to him as a kid. An ear here, a nose over there…maybe even a couple large pizzas topped with human sausage. He’s like a house cat presenting its owner with a mauled pigeon.

None of these things serve to make OFFERINGS a good film, but they do make it a fun film—at least often enough to prevent it from being a total slog to get through. A few friends and a few beers will certainly make it go down a little smoother. Just stay away from the pizza.

Adult John from 1989's Offerings

OFFERINGS was written and directed by Christopher Reynolds, whose only other credit in this fashion is the 1991 action film LETHAL JUSTICE. Never seen it? You’re not alone. There are only two reviews on the LETHAL JUSTICE IMDb page—both of them from people who had worked on the movie.

I could list the names of all the performers here, but honestly, it would mean very little to you. Most of them never acted again, and those who did were relegated to bit parts. The one exception appears to be Tobe Sexton, who played teenager David and went on to some smaller films, but the highlight of his filmography has to be playing Teen Freddy in FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE (1991). Of course, in my opinion, that would be a highlight on most filmographies. The number of people who have played Freddy Krueger in an official capacity are too few for it to be anything else.

And if the best that a film has to offer is human pizza and a future Freddy, is that film worth a little bit of your time?

You’re goddamn right it is.

 

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