Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Midnight Offerings (1981)

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!

Chic witchery

Network: ABC
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!

This teacher is into the dirty stuff!

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.

The windows to teen witchy-ness

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.

Melissa does a kick ass impression of the Scream mask

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.

My kingdom for a band-aid!


Joanna said...

Juanita Bartlett! YESSS!

And I love your 'Little House on the Prairie Vs. The Waltons' comparison. You know we were all thinking it!

Anonymous said...

I freakin LOVE this cheese ball of a flick! I've seen it a dozen times.
Dreaded Dreams
Petunia Scareum

sam said...

Jeez, I feel like a celebrity! Thanks for the shout out Amanda, it felt good to make you feel good!

The super crazy thing is that here at Hi-Gloss we're actually working on an idea for our first feature film and it involves the mysterious dabbling of witchcraft in the good city of London! Thus my desperation to finally pinpoint the source of my inspiration.
Will keep you posted on our progress. Perhaps we'll even sell to TV and our little movie could one day grace your blog. Only time will tell...

Keep up the good work and thanks again!


Frederick said...

Thanks for your fun blog!

One made-for-tv movie I've been wanting to find again is called "I, Desire," which came out in the early 80's. It was abotu a famale vampire, and I think starred David Naughton of "Werewolf in London" fame.

Ever seen it or heard of it?


Cindylover1969 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cindylover1969 said...

The author was me; I was saying how nice it was to find something from Juanita Bartlett in a non-Stephen J. Cannell/James Garner/Spenser: For Hire context - then I find the movie on YouTube and who should appear in the opening credits but - Stephen J. Cannell! It is, however, one of the few Cannell-produced efforts where the great Mike Post wasn't called on to do the music, with Walter Scharf (RIP) scoring this instead. Although Post doing a horror thriller would be interesting to see.

(Like all too many movies posted on YouTube the end credits are left off (alas), so no chance to fully enjoy something from Stephen J. Cannell Productions in the days when his company's credit was in-credit without a logo.)

Amanda By Night said...

Thanks everyone for posting comments. I'd been wanting to write about this movie for some time and I'm glad everyone enjoyed revisiting this lost classic.

CindyLover, your knowledge is awesome. I was not all that aware of Cannell's composers, so thanks for the tidbits! :)

Fred, here's a link to my review of I, Desire: http://madefortvmayhem.blogspot.com/2010/04/i-desire-1982.html

I really enjoyed it.

Sam, yes PLEASE keep me up to date on your movie. I'm excited. I was really impressed with your site and imagine you have a great company! Keep up the good work!

Ross Horsley said...

Another one you've opened up my eyes to, Amanda! I can't wait to see this... someday!

Trevor said...

I just finished watching this and loved it! It definitely deserves a dvd release. It took a minute to realize that was Erin from The Waltons lol