A couple of weeks ago, I got a comment from Sam of Hi-Gloss Productions asking about a movie he’d seen but wasn’t sure what the title was. Sam wrote, “One movie I saw in the 90's (though I have no idea what year it was filmed) was about two witches (one or both may have been teenagers) and the final showdown involved a nail gun an' that's all I got! Any ideas?! Have been wondering for a millennium and you could be my last hope.”
I took a shot that it was Midnight Offerings and lo and behold, I was correct. Finally I was right about something and it felt all good and stuff! Sam said he hoped for a review soon. And so here I am! This one is for you, Sam! And everyone should take a look at his site for Hi-Gloss, his company produces some really cool stuff!
Original Air Date: February 27th, 1981
Now this is a fun film! Midnight Offerings came out at the perfect time for my life. Watching the good witch and evil bitchy witch go toe to toe left an indelible mark on me in those wide eyed years.
Melissa Sue Anderson is friggin’ fantastic as evil witch Vivian. She rules the school and keeps her football playing stud of a boyfriend David (Patrick Cassidy of that luscious Cassidy clan) under her thumb mostly by killing anyone who tries to get in the way of his football career! Enter Mary Beth McDonough (the gorgeous Erin of The Waltons) as Robin Prentiss, a new girl with powers she has yet to understand. When she touches someone she can feel their pain or their power. David instantly takes a liking to her, much to Vivian’s chagrin and that’s when the proverbial shizz-nit hits the fan.
The Waltons vs. Little House on the Prairie? You got it!
Midnight Offerings doesn’t get old. In fact, there are several films which feature women finding empowerment through witchcraft or supernatural means. Just on television alone, we’ve got The Spell (1977), A Stranger in Our House (aka Summer of Fear, 1978) and The Initiation of Sarah (1978, and remade in 2006). These movies embrace the idea of fitting in while finding something unique about oneself (also see my review of Nestor, the Long Eared Donkey for another comparison!). This is a common theme for young girls and certainly explains why The Craft (1996) is such a popular film - women and witchcraft mix well. Offerings is no exception and plays on the same ideas I mentioned above. It was also written by a successful female producer named Juanita Bartlett (Rockford Files, Greatest American Hero), which might explain how this movie tapped into all things mysterious and girly.
Melissa Sue Anderson was a great choice to play Vivian. I am quite smitten with her and not just because of Offerings, she also won my heart in First Affair (1983), Dark Mansions (1986) and of course, Happy Birthday to Me (1981). She was equally at ease being a total bitch as she was when she played the wide eyed ingénue and I wish she was working more. Mary Beth McDonough has always been an uneven actress, and she starts off a bit stiff but really settles into the part of the good witch nicely. The scene where she and David go to a remote area to practice her untapped skills is quaint and sweet and a high point of the film. I actually think she really came into her own in Mortuary (1983 – oh, and check out the image gallery!), a movie I absolutely adore.
The rest of the cast is awesome, and the slew of familiar faces is mesmerizing. Marion Ross (Mrs. C!) is the psychic who helps Robin hone her talents and Gordon Jump (WKRP) and Cathryn Damon (SOAP) are excellent as Vivian’s parents. In fact, Cathryn’s part turns out to be quite important and plays a big part in the shocking climax. Even the late Jeff MacKay (Magnum P.I.) pops up in one excellent scene. This whole movie is like one big early 80s television flashback and I for one, just loved it.