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4 Ratings: 4.3
1970 cult film (made in 1967) about four teenagers and a forest ranger who is secretly a demon.

Wikipedia page for Equinox      Synopsis 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 nine-time Oscar-winning visual-effects … see full wiki

Genre: Horror, Classics, Animation, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Fantasy
Release Date: October 1970
MPAA Rating: PG
1 review about Equinox

Journey Into the Heart of Fandom

  • Feb 11, 2009
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 extraordinaire 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 it's just too 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  every bit as much of an inspiration to the young Stan Winston as they 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 world that spawned the likes of Stephen Spielberg, Stephen King, George Lucas, and nameless 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 cameras that simple weren't equipped with that capability yet. Didn't matter though, 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 co-effects man Dennis Muren's. Allen preferred 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. Pretty good for a bunch of kids.

Some  reviewers have been puzzled as to why Criterion has given this film the big treatment. Others seem to actually be angry about it,  regarding the film as "cheesy, "  a word I despise. 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 between 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! It's 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 INDEPENDENCE DAY again. That had a nice big budget. (sound of me retching)

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 a so-bad-its-good flick 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. It's cold, sterile, and distracting. It constantly calls attention to itself in the worst possible manner--like your best friend's spoiled brat bouncing off the walls in an expensive restaurant screaming "Look at me! Look at me!". While CGI has attained an undeniable level of technical proficiency it has yet show creativity in any sense other than in problem solving. That's because the people at the keyboards are for the most part still just your average computer wiz with no real gift for making their creations relateable. There is no feeling of humanity in their work, nor is there 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 opening 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.

Since I wrote this review Forry Ackerman also passed away of congestive heart failure at the age of 93.  I'll miss you, Uncle Forry.

HYPE FACTOR: Finally with the Criterion release this little flick is getting so well deserved attention.


DISC ONE: intro by 4E Ackerman The 1970 THEATRICAL RELEASE remastered 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
DISC TWO: Interiews--Dennis Muren, Frank Bonner, Barbara Hewitt, James
Deleted Scenes
Archival Stop-motion footage
"The Magic Treasure"-David Allen fairy tale
David Allen--KING KONG Volkswagon commerical and test footage!
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.
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April 14, 2010
I can't believe that I have not seen this one, EXCELLENT review and I love the history at the top of the greats in effects.
April 14, 2010
I can't believe I went through an entire review without mentioning anything about the story line at all! It is a watershed flick though because of all the people involved in it, so I guess that's why it got the Criterion treatment. I think it's just a fun flick though.
February 21, 2010
"Hype"...sounds like a woo factor...this one sounds like it is "under-hyped." Not normally my bailiwick...but with five stars, I may have to give it a peek. Also...I see you detest the word "cheesy..." which is one I used in a recent review (that you read)...I can see you cringing...hehe.
February 21, 2010
I'd call this one "strangely hyped" because there was none for decades and then the people who made it became famous and Criterion released this special edition which means it finally does have some hype.
April 16, 2009
Hope y0u like it, Chris! But of course it has to be watched with a 60s frame of mind.
February 16, 2009
There are other films named ARMAGEDDON and we can only hope that he is referring to one of them.
February 13, 2009
ARMAGEDDON? You mean that horrible flick with Bruce Willis? Wow. They really are lowering their standards. You can make a case for EQUINOX because it features early work by a couple of really important people in the business, especially Dennis Muren who went on to win lots of Oscars for ILM, but how in God's name do you justify ARMAGEDDON?
February 03, 2010
What I want to know is, whose idea was it to give "Armageddon" a Criterion Collection release. This is their mission statement and is it just me or does a Bay film feel out of place...
"...Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films, has been dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world..."
February 04, 2010
Maybe somebody slipped 'em a couple of bucks.
February 12, 2009
excellent review. Stan Winston has indeed made his mark and thanks for bringing this film to our attention again, Karen. I know some people tend to wonder as to how Criterion makes their decisions on which films to master, but I do think this one is deserving. I wonder how come they decided to remaster "Armageddon"? Catch you later, Karen. too many movies so little time....
What's your opinion on Equinox?
4 Ratings: +4.3
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