Equinox (1970)

A guy, his blind date, and a couple that he is friends with go on a picnic and decide to swing by an old professor’s rustic cabin on the way. When they arrive, they find the cabin in ruins, a mysterious castle, a sheriff named Asmodeus, and a laughing man in a cave who gives them a locked book. Then they make the stupid decision to open the book. Hijinks and hellfire ensues…IN CLAYMATION!

Equinox is a low-budget horror film from 1970 that is amateurish in nearly every way: the dialog is bland, the acting wooden, and the cinematography leaves much to be desired. It follows a story-within-a-story approach, as a journalist listens to the ravings of the now insane guy as he recounts what happened to him. But there’s a plucky underdog side to the film that is hard to deny, mainly because the plot is vaguely reminiscent of Evil Dead, just from an earlier era. If you’re interested in what Evil Dead would have been like with considerably less gore and a reworked plot that is just that much hokier, well, here you go.

Also, the high point of the film is the special effects, which consists largely of some very impressive claymation. As in, it rivals some of the best work of Ray Harryhausen…which isn’t that surprising considering the creator/director/producer/special effects man behind the film, Dennis Muren, went on to become a part of ILM and now has 9 academy awards for Best Visual Effects. As amateurish as the film can be, Muren’s work excels.

Since I pointed out the similarities to Evil Dead, I figure I should go on record and state that at least a few crew members had seen Equinox but don’t recall discussing it with Sam Raimi. No, Evil Dead is not ripping Equinox off.

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