It’s time for another dive into the world of made-for-TV horror movies. After checking out The Intruder Within, Midnight Offerings (1981) is next on the docket. It’s about a teenage witch who runs into another teenage witch, and David Cassidy’s half-brother, Patrick, gets caught in between.

You might say, he is the meat in a “sandwitch…”

We will pause here a moment while you laugh heartily…

Midnight Offerings Credits

A musical score plays over the opening credits of Midnight Offerings that seems a bit more professional than required. Walter Scharf is the composer. A check of his credits reveals that the hunch this movie is punching above its weight in the aural department is not in vain.

Scharf began working in Hollywood in 1933. He was a ten-time Oscar nominee and did music on such classics as Funny Girl, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory and The Nutty Professor. Scharf even wrote the classic Michael Jackson hit, Ben.

From the credits, one also learns that Jaunita Bartlett wrote the screenplay for Midnight Offerings. James Garner must have liked her, as she was on the writing staff for three of his shows: The Rockford Files, The New Maverick, and Nichols.

Bartlett also worked for Stephen Cannell, which is maybe not so surprising, since Cannell pretty much produced every TV show that existed in the 1970s and 1980s.

Rod Holcomb directed Midnight Offerings. Holcomb also directed the 1979 Reb Brown Captain America and recently passed away in January. Vaya con dios, Holcomb. Thank you for this…

Midnight Offerings Opening

Midnight Offerings starts with a black-robed girl casting a spell. It is full-on witchery. None of that Sabrina pap. She is mumbling to Hecate, has a pentagram altar that surely came from the scariest county fair haunted house ever, and even owns a black cat.

Her spellcasting is intercut with a high school biology teacher leaving his office and hopping into his car. He drives one of those models that appeared in every 1980s movie and TV show. You know the one. As soon as you see its shape, you know it is destined for a crash or an explosion.

Midnight Offerings does not disappoint. The witch burns a photo of the teacher, and his car promptly bursts into flame. His days of lecturing on pistils and ovules, and rolling his eyes while the students giggle, is over. Perhaps, he is secretly pleased about that…

Melissa Sue Anderson of Little House on the Prairie fame plays the witch, Vivian. She is effective in the role. No Mary Ingalls exists here, only Bloody Mary Ingalls!

Midnight Offerings Cast

Cut to the next day at school. A new girl joins the student body, Robin. She is played by Mary Elizabeth McDonough, fresh off her role as Erin on The Waltons. Midnight Offerings appears to be casting against type, big-time. Did you know that McDonough suffers from lupus erythematosus today, which she claims stems from a leaking breast implant?

You did? I’m sorry for underestimating your knowledge of chesticle augmentation.

The aforementioned Patrick Cassidy is also introduced as Dave. Not only is David Cassidy his half-brother, but his mother is Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy.

Midnight Offerings is one of those movies where all of the teenagers look to be about thirty. Some like to mock this, but it is actually a shrewd move. No one on the downside of thirty wants to watch teenagers on screen. Once one hits thirty, they realize teenagers are one of the lowest forms of life on earth, right above Star Wars writing teams.

However, when you have teenagers played by thirty-year-olds, everyone from ages 10 to 60 can watch the show and somewhat relate to the characters.

Frankly, the only youngsters allowed in movies should be Alex Kinter-type roles.

Midnight Offerings Middle

It turns out that Vivian is using her witch powers to improve her high school status. She had to kill the biology teacher. He was going to flunk Dave. Then Dave could no longer play football, and Vivian simply could not be a high-school debutant without a QB boyfriend.

Yet, some folks are suspicious of the happenings. For example, the principal asks Vivian why the biology teacher wanted to talk to him about her right before he died?

“Golly,” Vivian says. “I guess it was because we were doing an experiment on introducing false pregnancies in rats…”

Well played, Vivian. Well played…

While this is going on, Robin and Dave cross paths. Sparks fly. They are two lonely souls longing to beat as one, or something to that effect. This leads to them having the same heartfelt conversation over and over for the rest of the movie. They also perform a cover of DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince’s Parents Just Don’t Understand. Just kidding. They don’t. But they should!

Midnight Offerings Parents

Speaking of parents, Vivian has them. They are played by Gordon Jump, famous for WKRP, and Cathryn Damon, famous for Soap. Again, lots of casting against type on Midnight Offerings.

Vivian’s parents introduce an interesting dynamic into the film. It turns out that Cathryn is also a witch. She didn’t want to have Vivian. She already had six children and knew that as her seventh child, Vivian would have…dun dun dun…the power!

This leads to a scene where Cathryn confronts Vivian and asks her to stop with all the witchery. Vivian refuses and launches into a nasty verbal beatdown about her mother settling for being a loser. As the wizen authority figure, Cathryn tells Vivian that for everything Vivian gains by using her powers, she will lose something meaningful and end up consumed by loneliness.

The drama of it actually works quite well.

Likewise, Robin and her father also have secrets. They moved to this new town because Robin’s powers were making her a frightening freak among their acquaintances, so they had no choice but to leave. All of this could have been more fully explored, but that would reduce the number of conversations Robin and Dave have about their angst.

Midnight Offerings Conclusion

Various things happen. Eventually, Robin and Dave consult a wise mentor-type character for advice on how to deal with Vivian. This woman is played by Marion Ross from Happy Days. Midnight Offerings is really a who’s-who of comedy and drama shows.

Ross tells Robin she must exercise her powers so she can face and defeat Vivian. Robin obliges by moving a canoe with telekinesis. It’s no Rocky training montage, but it will have to suffice.

Various things continue to happen. Some of them are even kind of fun in very, very simplistic way. We won’t delve into greater detail in case someone wants to watch this movie.

Suffice it to say, it all culminates on a football field. The climax is poorly handled, but a minute germ of cleverness exists. Back in the day, schools used to have bonfires as part of their homecoming festivities. To incorporate that into a witch-burning scenario is smart writing.

Midnight Offerings Thoughts

Look, Midnight Offerings is not good. It is sincere, though. It premiered February 27, 1981. That was a Friday. It is easy to get into the mood of how it would have played.

No school the next day. Smartphones don’t exist. No computers. Only the rich people have Atari. Stuck in the doldrums of winter. After meatloaf, the family retires to the wood-paneled den. Everyone has been watching reruns for months. And up pops a fun, young-adult spooky story to get caught up in. One can even see where the commercial breaks would have happened. No overproduction. No message. Just story.

It amused me.

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The post Retro Review: MIDNIGHT OFFERINGS (1981) appeared first on Last Movie Outpost.

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