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"Equinox" is a classic stop-motion monster movie made for under $10,000, this low budget inspiring film follows a group of teens as they head up to the mountains to their friends house but upon arriving are stuck there due to lack of gas, as it happens they are in an area riddled with monsters from another dimension and must fight to escape whilst pondering the mysteries of the ancient book an old man gave them, I can't say much more without ruining the whole plot but this is a film that is definitely worth seeing, the film comes in two versions, the 1967 directors cut and the 1970 edit done by producers which vary slightly in plot and footage, I preferred the 67 version but this Criterion Collection DVD is a great two disc set with both cuts of the film, hours of bonus features and a huge booklet full of interesting stuff, for fans of 50's style sci-fi horror or stop-motion monster movies this is a must see movie with the best of both worlds and although "Equinox" is pretty much bloodless I think "Evil Dead" was influenced quite a bit by the film. Highly recommended.
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A year after being found injured on the side of a road, David Fielding(Edward Connell) remains incarcerated in a mental hospital. A reporter visits him on this unhappy anniversary, and attempts to interview David. However, when the reporter called Sloan shows David a photo of his old mentor Dr. Arthur Waterman(Fritz Leiber), David suddenly becomes very angry and attacks Sloan. So the reporter has to listen to a taped interview that David gave just after his incarceration, in order to get some idea just what went on exactly a year ago. David in the interview proceeds to tell a very strange tale indeed, of how he and his three friends went into the country to meet up with Dr. Waterman, only to find the log cabin he was staying in demolished and Waterman nowhere to be found. Their day is about to get a lot worse when they encounter a cackling old timer in a cave who hands them a mysterious book, locked from the outside. One of the party, Jim, manages to open the book and they discover its true, horrible purpose. It is a book of Demonology and Incantations, and Waterman has unwittingly invited all kinds of evil monstrosities into the world from another one. Soon, the four friends are under attack from the shape shifting demon Asmodeus and various terrifying monsters... A real curio this is. A very interesting marriage between the wonderful fantasy films of my childhood and the 80's horrors of my teenage years, Equinox does seem quite groundbreaking for a film made in 1970(in fact a version of Equinox was made as early as 1967). I had read reviews that dismiss this film as a 'so bad it's good' type of affair, but it is in my opinion a lot better than that. I'm not talking exclusively about the monsters either, impressive though they are.Read more ›
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86 of 92 people found the following review helpful
Are your friends worth having? Show 'em Equinox and find out!29 Jun. 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
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.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
A Labor of Love20 Jun. 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
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).
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Equinox and its place in the Criterion Collection2 Aug. 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
Including Equinox in the Criterion collection is gutsy but completely in keeping with the jazzy and independent nature of that company (has anyone noticed the inclusion of the lesser Fiend without a Face or the Warhol monster films??). Many people are bemoaning the fact that some finer films have not received the Criterion treatment but Equinox does rest comfortably in the collection and not just for fans or hardcore completists. It's good to also remember that the company often allows the producers to pick their own projects that they feel passionate about to lavish their attentions on, this creates an idiosyncratic but fascinating catalogue of films.
I had never heard of Equinox before Criterion put it out (although I had seen some stills of the Taurus monster from it) and I am not a Criterion completist and I really fell for this film. I watched both versions (the original and the theatrical release a very nice extra!!) within days of each other. The movie is a crude attempt at a horror/monster film but it is made with the passion of talented hardcore fans. It hits all the cliches yet it has an irresistable naivete. I got a shiver of pleasure every time it pulled a monster or a photographic trick out of its hat (and there are a considerable number of tricks in this zero budget film that are impressive). There is a wonderful can do spirit that hangs over this film both in its amateurish acting and its ingenious effects.
The filmmakers poured all of their passions into this little film and it shows. In that way, this highly personal film is more at home in the Criterion Collection than the coldly calculated films of Michael Bay. It also has an ambitious narrative arc that establishes a certain amount of tension that keeps you going through the first (and most tedious) part of the film.
The film looks good and though the film stock obviously was in bad shape but still this master features nice deep colors and generally good contrast. The extras are all great. Including the afore mentioned two (and very different) cuts of the film each with its own commentary track. Criterion explores the science fiction/horror fan base that fueled interest in film and special effects all through the sixties and seventies and gave rise to the current crop of effects wizards who are currently ubiquitous in the entertainment world and shines a light on early effects processes. I especially enjoyed the tributes and examples of the animator David Allen's work.
A really, really cool release and I'm glad such a small personal work is included in the Criterion Collection. This movie is about loving movies as much as any other release and allows Criterion to give tribute to a whole other group of filmmakers who have influenced cinema.
30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Lost "Masterpiece" Finally Resurfaces10 May 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
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.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A JOURNEY INTO THE HEART OF FANDOM17 Jun. 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
When I decided to review EQUINOX in its Criterion release I was all hyped up and ready to go. I should have done it then rather than wait until The next day. Why? Because on that morning I learned the sad news of Stan Winston's death at the relatively young age of 62. For those of you who might not know (and why are you reading a review of this type of film if you don't know who he is?)Stan Winston is/was the Academy Award winning special effects genius extraordinarie who thrilled you with JURASSIC PARK, WAR OF THE WORLDS, CONSTANTINE,the latest INDIANA JONES flick and countless other classic films of the genre for the last 20 years, including one of my favorites PUMPKINHEAD, which was also his directorial debut. His death marks the beginning of the end of an era, and its just to sad to even contemplate. Winston had nothing whatsoever to do with the making of EQUINOX but he shared the same spiritual fathers as the kids who produced this film, namely; Willis O'Brien and Marcel Delgado the men who gave life to the original KING KONG and Ray Harryhausen who created the 7th VOYAGE OF SINBAD, JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, et.al.
O'Brien and Harryhausen were probably every bit as much of an inspiration to a young Stan Winston as were to the young creators of EQUINOX who, in 1967 when the film was finally sold to Jack Harris for distribution were still in their teens. Things were so much different then. Thanks in a very large part to Forry Ackerman and the Super 8 camera kids really could make their own monsters and their own movies and then maybe even have them featured in a national magazine for others to see! And if you weren't into film production, well, you could print your own fanzine. Heck, anybody could do that! And just about everybody did.This is the wotld that spawned the likes of Stephen Spielberg, Stephen King, George Lucas, and namesless nerds without end who happily spent every waking hour with their friends either talking about monster movies or actually trying to make them. Eager little geeks bent over hand-sculpted models of dinosaurs that they moved ever so slightly and then tried to capture on a single frame of film with a cameras that simple weren't equipped with that capability yet. Didn't matter thought, they kept trying. Why? Because they were in love. In love with monsters, in love with movies, in love with the process of making movies and nothing could stop them.
As it turned out nothing did stop the guys who created EQUINOX--Mark McGee who wrote the original story has a career as a sometimes actor, author, and screenwriter today and is best known as a scholar of "psychotronic cinema." Jim Danforth who did the matte paintings was already a fairly well established effects man. David Allen (who died sadly died of cancer in 1999) co-directed as well as working on the effects, and later became a very well respected effects man. His career was decidedly at odds with Dennis Muren's. Allen perferred working on low budget projects because he felt it gave him more creative control He also chose to stay with the kind of work that allowed him to have a hands' on approach. Dennis Muren, on the other hand, is the most successful of the group. After EQUINOX he went to work on STAR WARS. Today he is Supervisor of Visual Special Effects at Industrial Light and Magic, has nine Academy Awards, and a star of his own on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Some AMAZON reviewers have been puzzled as to why Criterion has given this films the big treatment. Others seem to actually be angry about it, while still others regard the film as "cheesy." I think Dennis Muren's connection with the film alone makes it significant in cinematic history. While making this film Muren actually developed a camera/effects trick betweeen classes in school that PREDATED one that excited the film community when it was used well over a year later in 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY! Its actually a very technically accomplished film, but since it didn't have more than a $6,500 BUDGET let's just call it cheesy and go and see CATWOMAN again. That had a nice big budget.
I'm a low budget fan, nothing puts me off faster than a big budget flick with hype to match. Now that doesn't mean that I'm looking for camp or so-bad-its-good flix to ridicule, because I'm not. I've never laughed once at EQUINOX. (I'll admit to smiling once or twice at the cute little octopoidal monster that demolishes the Professor's cabin.) I just prefer movies where I feel that everyone connected with the film is doing everything they can to make the movie work. That's not the feeling I get with a big budget, high-concept, Computer Generated everyday piece of Hollywood trash. CGI in particular has been known to make me think violent thoughts. Its cold, sterile, and distracting. It constantly calls attention to itself in the worst possible manner--like your best friend's spoiled brat. While CGI has attained an undeniable level of techical proficency it has yet show creativity in any sense other than in problem solving. That's because the people at the keyboards are still just your average computer wiz with no real gift for making their creations relatable. There is no feeling of humanity in their work, nor is their any artistry or even any originality. (How many times are we going to see monsters that harken back to that image of the giant maw openning wider and wider from THE MUMMY? No originality!)
Give me a movie as good as EQUINOX any day of the week, one that's made with all the passionate exuberance of youth. I bet Stan Winston liked this one too.
DISC ONE: intro by 4E Ackerman The 1970 THEATRICAL RELEASE remasted with commentary by Jack H. Harry and Jack Woods. 82 minutes 1967the original 1967 version. commentary by Dennis Muren, Mark McGee,,& Jim Danforth. 71 minutes. very different. DISC TWO: Interiews--Dennis Mren, Frank Bonner, Barbara Hewitt, James Duron Deleted Scenes Archival Stop-motion footage "The Magic Treasure"-David Allen fairy tale David Allen--KING KONG Volkswagon commerical and test footage! "ZORGON-THE H-BOMB BEAST FROM HELL" Stills and poster Gallery Trailer and radio spots
And yes, the Fritz Leiber in this film is none other than the famous science fiction/fantasy author himself.