(1988, dir/scp: Christopher Reynolds; music: Russell D. Allen; cast: Loretta
Leigh Bowman, Elizabeth Greene, G. Michael Smith, Jerry Brewer)
an original story: A young boy is abused by his mother: a trashy, boozy,
foul-mouthed, chain-smoking harridan. The boy endures her daily insults
in silence. He never talks. Not to anyone. Not since
dad "disappeared" (rumors vary). But at least Quiet Boy has a hobby
-- he tortures small animals.
kids think Quiet Boy is retarded, and so they relate to him in the time-honored
tradition of how children deal with the mentally handicapped: they tease
him. They play pranks on him. And then ... one of those pranks
Boy has spent the past decade institutionalized in an asylum, horribly
disfigured from that childhood prank. Doctors think he's a vegetable. Never talks. But one night a nurse doesn't sedate him on schedule. It never mattered before. But on this, the ten year anniversary,
Quiet Boy escapes. He treks forty miles to his hometown in search
of his former tormentors (who've all blossomed into stunningly attractive
high school seniors, looking too old for high school) and ... the body
many slasher films "inspired" by Halloween (1978), Offerings is both a latecomer and one of the most slavishly unoriginal. Its
ominous piano score sounds identical to John Carpenter's. And its
killer is an Überpsycho, a dark avenging
angel of superhuman strength and endurance. With one hand, he lifts
a struggling victim off her feet. He tosses a noose around another
victim and hauls him up the side of a house without trouble. He is
shot several times, but continues relentlessly. A sign warns Danger!
High Voltage, yet he grips the electric fence and climbs over.
coined Überpsycho in my essay, "But Is It Horror? Defining and Demarcating the
Genre" to distinguish the indestructible post-Halloween "horror psycho" from the vulnerable "suspense psycho" of such earlier films
as Frenzy. For
a fuller, more up-to-date analysis, see my book, Horror Film Aesthetics.)
the electric fence stands isolated. Aren't all "live" fences positioned
between dead fences? Otherwise, innocent passersby, on either side,
might mistakenly touch it.)
are some clever deaths and attempts at black humor, and director Reynolds
can stretch a low budget. One victim is dragged under bed, his legs
flailing, then shuddering, then the blood. That's one way to save
on effects: hide the mayhem under bed. Another cost-saving method
is to show a screaming head set to be split, then cut to its shadow as
it's finally cracked. We hear only the head split, and see blood
spattering the shadow. Not necessarily great art, but journeyman
As in Halloween,
there's the requisite good girl, Gretchen (Loretta Leigh Bowman, who is
pretty but lacks Jamie Lee Curtis's range and intensity). As a child,
Gretchen was the one neighborhood kid who defended Quiet Boy. As
an adolescent, Gretchen honors her parents, and says "no" to the boys.
Boy remembers Gretchen's kindness. As he butchers and slaughters
his former tormentors (Gretchen's friends), he leaves their body parts
on her porch -- his "offerings" of gratitude and love. (Don't worry:
he doesn't just kill his former tormentors, but anyone in his path, so
the body count is generous.)
at black humor include a finger eaten by a dog and pizza topped with human
flesh. (A joke too stale to be funny.) Reynolds's broad range
of levity also encompasses masturbation and porn jokes, and mocking the
boob tube (another old film conceit). One dying boy flails outside
the window as his parents watch TV, laughing at cartoons. Elsewhere,
teenagers watch a horror film on TV, commenting on the characters' stupidity.
off this "in joke," the characters in Offerings are just as dumb. After being knocked out, one teen awakes strapped
upon a tool table, his head clamped in a steel vise (not very convincingly). He asks: "Hey, is this a joke? Very funny, guys. C'mon,
at least loosen the straps."
Yeah, sure it's a joke. My
friends are always braining each other, then strapping themselves under
drill presses and before circular blades.
following the Halloween blueprint, Offerings suffers from structural sloppiness. Quiet Boy is said to have cannibalized
his mother (hence, the pizza toppings?). But when might he have eaten
mom? She was fine before the prank, immediately after which Quiet
Boy was institutionalized. Quite a plot hole.
it's nighttime in Oklahoma when Gretchen's parents phone from Hawaii. Considering the time difference, and assuming it's May or June, the airport
in "Hawaii" still looked too bright for evening. The shadows were
long but distinct, and the sky was too bright. It looked like mid-morning
in Hawaii and midnight in Oklahoma.
much low-budget exploitation indie fare, the lighting is flat, rather than
atmospheric. And the no-name cast gives a mostly stilted performance
(apart from two hams -- a gravedigger and a deputy). However, Offerings went the extra mile to offer night-for-night photography, always a plus
in horror. And in addition to its Carpenter-like piano score, Offerings also has generic spacey musical effects, at times sounding like a 1950s
sci-fi film. A peculiar choice, but nicely eerie.
credits indicate that Offerings was shot with some assistance from the University of Oklahoma's film department,
and indeed, some of the film is shot on campus. Maybe this was a
film school project? Offerings is woefully unoriginal compared to some of the work produced at the more
prominent film schools at NYU, USC, UCLA, and AFI. Still, it's nice
to see a film school take an interest in a feature length slasher film.
will wish to decline these Offerings,
but aficionados of low- budget indie horror should be more forgiving. Offerings delivers what it offers ... a generic but serviceable Überpsycho body-count film.
Review copyright by Thomas
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