Before he took you to a galaxy far, far away, before he brought you face-to-face with living, breathing prehistoric beasts, Dennis Muren, the future eight-time Oscar-winning visual effects artist (Star Wars, Jurassic Park)... more », created an homage to the creature features of yore in the eerie monster mash Equinox. Deep within the woods and canyons of California, four teenagers happen upon an ancient book containing the secrets of a strange, malevolent world that coexists with that of mankind. This $6,500-budget wonder was picked up for distribution by producer Jack H. Harris (The Blob), who shot new footage for the film with writer-director Jack Woods. Since its 1970 release, Equinox has gained a passionate cult following and inspired succeeding generations of horror/fantasy filmmakers.« less
Jeff V. (burielofmel) from HARRIMAN, TN Reviewed on 6/10/2008...
The first time I saw this was just a couple of years after WKRP IN CINCINNATI went off of the air and I remember how cool I thought it was when I saw that Bonner, the guy who played HERB on WRKP was one of the main actors in this film. They eat Kentucky Friend Chicken and I think it's funny that they don't recognise the name MISTER ASMODEUS.
Update-I got this in June from here on the website. I can very highly recommend it. My previous review was based on a bootleg version I got on ebay years ago. The bonus features on this disc are amazing. It's one of the most interesting DVD / Bonuses I've ever watched. One of the girls in the movie was best friends with Stevie Nicks. It's weird thinking that while this was being made, the girl in the movie was hanging out with the woman who would be the welsh witch of Fleetwood Mac in about 8 years after the thing was being filmed. It's even more strange to imagine that the girl's future husband would one day also be married to Stevie NIcks. Then there is the Famous Monsters of Filmland connection. Forrest Akerman is on the bonus features in several places as well as his magazine Famous Monsters. Usually bonus features stick with stories of what goes on the set while the movie is being made but the features here go so deep into the lives of the film makers that you feel like you're looking at old photo albums and home movies of some old friends who just happen to have made a movie.
5 of 6 member(s) found this review helpful.
Are your friends worth having? Show 'em Equinox and find out
J. Martin | Portland, OR USA | 06/29/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Call them litmus tests. There are certain movies, TV shows, bands and books that, if you like them, make you a bit of a misfit. But, misfit or not, you LOVE them. You believe everybody should love them, but not everybody does. You want to be around other people who love them. If you try to turn other people on to these things, it goes one of two ways: A) They laugh and tell you how weird you are for liking this, or B)They love it too, and you have a friend for life.
The first reaction, unfortunately, is more common; that's the way this misfit business works. It can be heartbreaking, like the time you tried to get that happening girl to like the Cramps and she asked if you could play some Air Supply instead. But when you meet a fellow misfit? When you connect with that bent soul who understands the difference between Just Schlock and Transcendent Schlock? When you find that cute girl in the Ramones shirt who understands that three chords and lyrics about surfing are better than 50 chords and lyrics about wizards and demons? We're talking soulmate.
And speaking of demons, the new, two-disc set for "Equinox" is chock-full of 'em...and is about the best litmus test to come out this year for separating fellow misfits from the folks with whom you may need to reconsider your friendship. It's not that this is a good movie. By any reasonable standard, it's probably not good.
But "Equinox" sits among that rare class of films to which reasonable standards don't really apply, that place where good and bad collide head-on to create something that's fun, messy, amateurish, sloppy, inspiring and unforgettable all at the same time. Not everybody will like it, of course, for on the face of it, "Equinox" is nothing more than a cheap 60s horror flick. Cute girls. Bad acting. Plenty of monsters.
It's the 'plenty of monsters,' though, that makes this movie such a gas for all the misfits of the world. Monsters, after all, are the cornerstone of a REAL horror flick. None of this demented-guy-in-a-hockey-mask crap! Forget those monster-free Edgar Allan Poe flicks. I'll say this one time: with only a few notable exceptions, HORROR MOVIES ARE BETTER WHEN THEY HAVE MONSTERS. And, boy howdy, does "Equinox" have some good ones! There's the big reptillian gorilla thing. The flying demon. The Green Giant (though he sure looks blue to me). These were all created, of course, by Dennis Muren and friends, long before he would go on to win Oscars and work on SFX blockbusters such as "Star Wars," "The Abyss" and countless others. For "Equinox," Muren and company scraped together a few thousand bucks, made a few puppets and managed to shoot a minor classic in somebody's back yard. Talk about the DIY ethic!
But monsters without context do not a classic make! "Equinox" goes the 'professor-who-dabbled-in-things-beyond-his-comprehension' route to get the mayhem rolling. In this case, it's one Dr. Waterman who's gotten his hands on some ancient Satanic text and decided to give demon-conjuring a whirl. Not a smart move, but we wouldn't have horror flicks if characters didn't do monumentally stupid things now and then, so I'll have no complaints. Most of the movie is filled out with four California teenagers battling the monsters Dr. Waterman has stirred up, all the while trying to steer clear of the devil himself who arrives on the scene cleverly disguised as a park ranger.
Even if you're an "Equinox" lover, the movie itself is just part of the fun of this set. There are lots of short documentaries with oodles of info on the production. (Your reaction to the revelation of various SFX secrets will almost certainly be both "God, that's cheap" and "Hey...these kids were pretty clever!)You also get tons of stills, commentary, and even the full, original version of the movie from 1967 before additional footage was shot for its theatrical release in 1970.
So go for the full-on "Equinox" litmus test. Have some people over for a screening. The folks who are glued to their seats as the closing credits roll are friends you'll treasure for life. And the ones who roll their eyes when the girl wants to go to Dr. Waterman's to get a Coke? The ones who say, "I'm soooo sure" when the devil shows up wearing a Smokey the Bear hat? Let them go, dear misfits. Just let them go."
J. MacAyeal | libertyville, illinois United States | 04/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This could possibly be the greatest decision Criterion has ever made. This film is beyond the creativity or hilarity of Ed Wood or any other low budget horror flick. The film "Evil Dead" owes it's very life to Equinox. This is a proud addition to any horror collection and can sit alongside the Criterion version of Carnival of Souls on my shelf as soon as it is released. It is a sure thing you will never be the same when you see the flying devil-head bat thingie attacking a teenage girl. Now if Criterion would only release "The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant.""
Lost "Masterpiece" Finally Resurfaces
David Lopez | Green Valley, AZ | 05/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have only fleeting memories of this low-budget epic (remembered fondly from numerous showings on San Francisco's KTVU Channel 2's Bob Wilkins' hosted "Creature Features"), but that fact notwithstanding, even though I've not seen the flick in decades (two, to be exact), I'd searched virtually EVERYWHERE for a copy, either on VHS or DVD, with no luck (apart from the guy on eBay hawking bootlegs which he promised were in an exceedingly crappy condition).
So it was with a great deal of excitement that I finally learned this thing was finally being released as part of the Criterion Collection. I've no idea whether it will live up to my admittedly hazy memories of it as being an ultra-cool Monster Mash, or if it will turn out to be a horrible disapointment, but here's to Criterion for having the cajones to give this a proper DVD release."
A Labor of Love
Dave Cordes | Denver, CO | 06/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Equinox is the story of the little film that could... and did. The story behind this film is probably far more interesting than the film itself and has been meticulously documented in both versions as released theatrically by producer Jack H. Harris and director Jack Woods and also Dennis Muren's original directorial cut The Equinox: A Journey Into the Supernatural (it's a travesty that George Lucas isn't giving both versions of his Star Wars films the same caliber of historical preservation). The fact that it was produced as a Criterion Collection release is a testament to the passion of the film makers and also its beloved fans. I never saw this film until my friend Brock DeShane, who contributed the essay included in the commemorative booklet and undoubtedly the biggest Equinox fan, showed me an old VHS copy. My immediate thought of it was pure low-budget amateur schlock, but as I watched it, I began to see the film's unique charm. It is Home Movie-making 101 at its finest and it was a film made by innocent and naive kids who were inspired by the legendary stop-motion special effects magic of pioneers Willis O'Brien and Ray Harryhausen.
The truth is, Equinox would probably have not been released on DVD, if at all, and if it eventually did would have been given the minimalist movie-only Goodtimes treatment if not for Brock's valiant efforts whose passion and persistence helped to champion this film as a first-class Criterion release. The result is nothing short of an archival tribute to those whose careers this film had launched: Dennis Muren, the visual effects wizard behind Star Wars, Terminator 2 and The Abyss and the late David Allen whose stop-motion work on The Primevals remains unreleased to this day. Famous Monsters of Filmland editor Forrest J. Ackerman endorses the film with his warm acknowledgment of approval and provides the uncredited "Voice on tape recorder" and despite the forgiveably poor acting, Frank Bonner (credited as Frank Boers Jr.) at least went on to make a respectable name for himself with WKRP in Cincinnati.
It was two years ago that Brock and I were scratching our heads together over dinner wondering why Equinox had not been released on DVD which prompted him to get the ball rolling and the result has exceeded just about anyone's expectations with probably one of the most comprehensive Criterion Collections ever produced. Not even my Criterion DVD for Spartacus is as thorough and comprehensive as this. I simply must applaud the efforts of everyone involved in the production of this DVD for bringing Equinox out of the shadows of its forgotten purgatory and back into the spotlight so it can be preserved, admired, cherished, and yes.. even laughed at... for generations of film fans for years to come. Just as Equinox was inspired by the legends who pioneered the special effects of cinema, hopefully Equinox will live on to inspire young amateur film makers to pick up their cameras and craft their visions with whatever tools are at their disposal and innovate future generations of creative talent just as it may or may not have been directly influential to Sam Raimi and The Evil Dead, although the resemblance to which is unquestionably obvious. The stunning retro cover art by Tavis Coburn encapsulates the film's pulpy phantasmagorical essence. From the packaging to the presentation, Equinox is passion preserved in a keepsake DVD box (action figure not included)."
Two versions? Two times the happy!
Edward Aycock | New York, NY United States | 06/17/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Putting aside the irrelevant argument as to why Criterion chose to add this movie to their collection, just sit back and enjoy the cheesy ride that is "Equinox". Sure it's a B-movie but Criterion really hasn't skimped on other offerings.
I appreciate that Criterion includes the theatrical 1970 release (version 2) as well as the original unseen 1967 film, "Equinox: A Journey into the Supernatural" (version 1) that served as its source. Version 2 is not a remake but a reconstruction; Jack Woods, the 1970 director makes use of scenes and situations from the original, adds on some new footage (generously giving himself a lynchpin, yet ludicrous, role) and the whole version ends up a big mess.
The 1967 version clearly stands as the winner. The story is tighter, the characters better developed (just little moments like Susan rooting through David's glove compartment for a headscarf adds more dimension), the dubbing less strained and we get two sequences that work so much better than in the later version: the appearance of the flying demon is better played out and more chilling, and the succinct voice-over of Professor Watermann describing his encounters with the mysterious book works perfectly. For some reason, the voiceover in version 2 is given to the character of David in the movie who reads a similar, but not identical, explanation in a deadly monotone.
It would be fun to play a drinking game as to all the times Vicki's hair length changes from shot to shot (she's wearing a very obvious wig in the 1970 scenes; I like to imagine the actress had grown long hippie hair by the time of the reshoots), Frank Bonner grows sideburns, or Jack Woods throws himself in front of the camera contorting his mouth to show just how evil he is. Oooo, scary. Not.
Thanks to Criterion for including both versions, something that wouldn't be done by most studios. Plus, there are lots of great extras, contemporary interviews with the actors, short films that make this DVD worth every penny. This film isn't just worth seeing for the fun effects, but for some much-needed light entertainment when you've had enough of Bergman."