Made by college students for $6500.00 in 1967, Equinox became a cult hit, and its creators were given time and money to film new sequences, stretching the movie to feature-length and gaining it wider distribution. Rereleased in 1970, Equinox influenced such people as George Lucas, Richard O'Brien, and Sam Raimi, received praise from Ray Harryhausen, and features cameos by SF writer Fritz Leiber and Famous Monsters of Filmland publisher Forrest J. Ackerman.
Not bad for a student film assembled on small change.
The plot concerns a group of young people who seek a reclusive professor and instead find his wrecked cottage. It turns out the professor has discovered a Necronomiconesque tome and accidentally unleashed demonic forces. Those forces take the shape of cut-rate but charming special effects: a double-exposed giant, and several stop-motion monstrosities. A mysterious castle appears and disappears, and a ranger turns up who is not what he seems.
Ranger Jim is, in fact, the demon Asmodeus. David, one of our protagonists, hears that name drop multiple times before suddenly recognizing it. The fact seems a little odd: after a day spent encountering strange phenomena and threatening monsters, he then recalls Asmodeus is a demon? It seems to me that information would have come to mind a tad earlier, if he knew it. Of course, we should suspect Ranger Jim's eldritch identity right away, because he acts wooden and unnatural. If we don't, it may be because that's pretty much how everyone acts in this movie. The celebrity guests fare little better. Only the obligatory Creepy Old Guy shows any real acting chops, and these he applies to the obligatory Creepy Old Guy scenery-mastication.
Acting really doesn't matter, however. The story exists as an excuse to display nifty, if campy, low-budget effects. The framing sequences, meanwhile, part of the extended version, have been constructed with some thought, and they provide an effective, uncertain ending.
The young filmmakers crafted an unusual film, with an underlying mythology that falls equally between late-1960s occultism and Jack T. Chick Tracts. If you enjoy fantasy or horror, you should watch Equinox.
Directed by Jack Woods, Mark Thomas McGee, Dennis Murran
Written by Jack Woods, Mark Thomas McGee
Edward Connell as David Fielding
Barbara Hewitt as Susan Turner
Frank Bonner as Jim Hudson
Robin Christopher as Vicki
Jack Woods as Asmodeus
Irving L. Lichtenstein as Creepy Old Guy
James Phillips as Reporter Sloan
Fritz Leiber as Dr. Arthur Waterman
Forrest J. Ackerman as Doctor
Special Effects by David Allen, Jim Danforth, Dennis Muren, Ralph Rodine, David Stipes