1970 demon movie
Plot: Picnicking college kids find a laughing old guy and an old book in a cave and incur the wrath of some devil monsters. That, in case you don't have much picnic experience, is worse than ants.
There's a promising start with the opening credits, creepy Bernard Hermann-esque music with shots of clock innards, something I never mind seeing in movies which makes me wonder if I should have become a watchmaker. Then, this really goes nowhere for a while. There are a few minutes of a guy running awkwardly and a car driving by itself and then some talking. The story's told in flashback by the lone survivor of the worst picnic of all time. That's one of the few reasons this 1970 movie feels like a 50's B-science-fiction movie. There's some terrifically bad performances throughout Equinox. Director Jack Woods keeps popping up as the creepy Forest Ranger Asmodeus. Woods apparently thought it would be good for his career to show extended close-up shots of himself doing this:
A crazy laughing guy in a cave is really awesome, and I'll have to figure out his name if he ends up winning my Torgo Award this year. And science fiction/fantasy author Fritz Leiber has a small role as Dr. Waterman and although he gets no speaking parts, he still manages to be really awful. It's a special performance. Things aren't looking good, but then there are these great stop-motion tentacles, a stop-motion ape thing murdering a stop-motion old-guy-from-cave, and a stop-motion devil bat thing that nearly saved the movie. I'm a sucker for that sort of thing anyway. Low-budget effects, but pretty cool. There's also an exploration of the evil book that reminds me a lot of what Sam Raimi did with his book in the Evil Dead movies. Parts of this manage to be effectively eerie, and it's worth a look if you like 1950's B-movies that were made in 1970. Oh, and it ends with a "The End" that morphs into a question mark which you've got to love. You just imagine the makers of this saying, "Hey, our story won't really make anybody think that a sequel is needed, but just in case, we should probably put a question mark at the end!"
Question: Why did Criterion release this one?