Leaving mysterious claw marks in the memory of millions of ’70s TV babies, Dennis Muren and Jack Woods’s Equinox (1970) would appear occasionally on local broadcast channels as if stepping from an unmapped cave, agelessly archaic and seething with an inadvertent but unforgettable aura of dislocation. Lovecraft, teen sci-fi, and Famous Monsters of Filmland geekhood were the m.o. for Muren’s amateur-hour adventure, which he shot in the California canyons with a windup Bolex and hallucinatory shoestring F/X. The script and post-dubbed acting are so awkward it’s difficult not to feel an otherworldly draft raise your nape hair; exploitationeer Woods bought the film and reshot chunks of it, lending the final release version the additional disjunctive sense of being envisioned and assembled out of spare monster parts. Thousands of bad movies like it have vanished into the abyss, but this one stands, now as a lavish Criterion job that tells us more than we ever wanted to know, as a haunting artifact of our secret century. Both versions—both versions!—are included, along with, on a second disc (a second disc!), interviews (Muren became an ILM bigwig), affiliated shorts, test footage, radio spots, deleted scenes, and an intro by 90-year-old supermaven Forrest J. Ackerman.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 27, 2006