Monday, August 28, 2006

Wait... this can't be right...

Equinox has finally made it out on DVD.
I think that's great.
Too bad I rewatched the damned thing.

Have you ever seen a few snippets of something as a kid, and then sorta "filled in the gaps" as the years went by?
That seems to be the regrettable case with Equinox and I.

A little background: the t.v. I originally watched this movie on was a miniscule black and white model with a slowly decaying picture tube that stretched everything at the top of the screen. Newscasters looked like grotesque egg-headed aliens. For years I just assumed David Brinkley was a hydrocephalic.

So basically, my impressions of this film were plenty distorted from the get-go.
Throw in a warehouse full of pharmaceuticals, add about a score of intervening years and you've got a sure-fire recipe for gross misremembrance.

Plot-wise, what I remember happening was this: four young friends are trapped on an island. Their hair and casual hippie-lite attire suggest an era somewhere between '70 and '74. Among them are a scrappy blonde not unlike Marilyn Burns, a fiesty little brunette sexpot, and two affable Hardy Boy-types, capable and courageous, but at this point way out of their depth. This island, it seems, won't let them leave. It constantly messes with their sense of direction, so that they keep ending up at the same cliff outcropping, and ahead lies a dark and foreboding tunnel...

Eventually, as night falls, they bicker, become separated, and finally succumb to the diabolical forces which surround them. As dawn breaks, only the blonde girl is left with her life and sanity still intact.
But she's not safe. Something is hunting her through the trees...

The final scene is an astonishing aerial POV shot, with leathery bat-wings in the foreground flapping almost lazily, as the "thing" knifes through the branches and swoops down towards her. She manages one last desperate sprint for the safety of a sunlit glade, but like a fieldmouse before a falcon, she is caught up in the talons of a far more malign and infinitely superior predator.
The hideous gargoyle-like beast tears into the girl's tender flesh. All she can do is scream.
End of movie.

Now,if someone had come up to me last week and said "So what's this 'Equinox' movie about?"
I would have told them exactly what I have just described to you. With perfect sincerity and just about verbatim.

And I would have been dead fucking wrong.
What's the old saying?

"Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it.

Possibly the case, here.

Anyway, since the actual movie is, in fact, far less scary that your average I Dream of Jeannie episode, I'll get right to the trivia and bonus materials.

Trivia item #1- Frank Bonner plays one of the four teens in this movie.
Yes. That Frank Bonner. Herb Tarlek from WKRP.

Trivia item #2- Fritz Leiber, an extremely talented and influential American fantasy-fiction writer and longtime correspondent of H.P. Lovecraft, played Professor Waterman in this film. And despite having a perfectly good speaking voice, they had all his lines dubbed by someone else.

Trivia item #3- The film started shooting in the mid-sixties, but when it was finally picked up for distribution in 1970, everyone had to come back for re-shoots. You'll notice how the hairstyles and sideburns change drastically in the movie. That's why.

Trivia item #4- This was a student film. The writers, effects guys and director were practically zygotes when this thing began production. (Hell, they were still drinking cherry coke and reading Famous Monsters!) Almost all of them have gone on to do some groundbreaking and award-winning work in Hollywood. Best of all, they're still plenty young enough to enjoy it!

Trivia item #5- This may be something only I find funny, but at one point in the movie Frank Bonner's character turns to his friend and says "Would you just relax? Like, just maintain."

Bonus: Forry Ackerman introduces this film! I was so happy to see him still kicking around, that I actually got a little verklempt...
Man, I used to love Famous Monsters of Filmland, and still have two or three cardboard boxes full of back issues down in storage.

So, that was Equinox.
Maybe you really can't go home again.


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