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"Death At A Funeral" by Mike Smith
Forgotten Horrors: Equinox by ED Tucker
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Movie Notes .... Remake City .... .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf by Mike Smith
In 1965, a group of friends and special effects enthusiasts who were all children of the Famous Monsters of Filmland generation, decided to make a monster movie of their very own. Dennis Muren, Mark McGee, Jim Danforth, and Dave Allen, were all just budding talents at the time but they were destined for greatness that would inspire subsequent generations. With help of unpaid friends, family, and peers with the same desire to make a movie, they completed a fun little tale of black magic called The Equinox….A Journey into the Supernatural.
The basic plot concerns four college students on a double date who decide to visit one of their professors at his remote cabin. What they didn’t count on was that the professor had located an ancient text, presumably the Necronomicon, and opened a gateway to another dimension. After his cabin is trashed and the professor is killed, the book ends up in the hands of a crazy hermit who, in turn, passes it off to the students, proving that maybe he isn’t so crazy after all! For the remainder of the film, the quartet is assaulted by all manner of evil creatures until the final survivor ends up in a mental institution with a curse on his head.
Dave Allen's Kong inspired Taurus creature.
Harris, best known for pitting young Steve McQueen against The Blob in 1958, knew an exploitable movie when he saw one. He also recognized Equinox as the collection of effects pieces it was and realized that the connecting story would require shoring up. He contacted Jack Woods, a talented editor, for help in expanding the central plot and lengthening the running time. Woods not only concocted a revised story, but also directed the new footage and starred as a newly added villain!
Frank Bonner can't see the giant for the trees!
Some additional padding was also filmed of the group having a picnic lunch and trying to open the book. A sub plot was added about mystical objects protecting them and they are shown making talismans out of twigs and string. A few of the special effects scenes were enhanced or re-edited to improve the presentation and better integrate them with the new scenes. A lengthy dialogue piece was lost at the end to incorporate the ranger character transforming into the final demon but most viewers never missed the exposition or questioned the plot holes.
The winged demon from the film's climax.
Jack Harris shortened the film’s title to simply Equinox and it was finally released to theaters in 1970. It played for several years, first in stand alone billings and then on the bottom half of double features with other horror movies, including the Jacksonville, Florida lensed ZAAT. After that, the GP rated tale of demons, satanic cults, and attempted rape made the kiddie matinee circuit where I first saw it on the big screen as part of a children’s summer movie series! Needless to say, we howled like the uncivilized monkeys we were during the rape scene where Jack Woods slobbers all over poor Barbara Hewitt.
Jack Woods as the stranger ranger.
The book of the not quite as evil dead!
For anyone who has never seen this little independent oddity or those that need an excuse to revisit it, Criterion has released an excellent two DVD set for the film. The first disc contains both versions of the movie so that fans can finally compare the young filmmakers’ original vision to the more theatrically viable edition. The second disc is loaded with extras related to the film and also to the careers of some of its participants. This serves as an excellent reminder of the creative talents that joined forces on this supernatural labor of love.
"Retrorama" is ©2010 by ED Tucker. Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.