Satan is a park ranger -- this is an Evil Dead prequel!
Spoilers ahead, perhaps. A moderate horror fan, I had never heard of`Equinox' at the time I popped it in (nor had I read any IMDBuser-comments). But until Sam Raimi personally tells me he did not seethisfilm prior to making the `Evil Dead' flicks, I'm going to assume he haspaidloving homage to this forgotten gem. If you think `Evil Dead II' is are-make of `The Evil Dead,' then you haven't seen this film yet (thoughithas a lot in common with John Newland's 1973 film, `The Legend OfHillbillyJohn' too).
I liked this film a lot - like the `Evil Dead' films and `The Return oftheAliens: The Deadly Spawn,' this is pioneering film-making that must beseento be believed. From the opening sequence where the credits are rolling(anice parade of mechanical images moving around mysteriously) to theratherabrupt start, this is a film that keeps things interesting! In thebeginning, a man running from an explosion (Edward Connell playing DavidFielding) is hit by a phantom car. He later winds up in a psychiatricwardas a psychotic vegetable of sorts, staring at his cross for countlesshours.He's visited by a newsman named Sloan (James Phillips looking like BrunoSammartino), who hears the original tape of Connell's affirmations.
Now, note the familiarities here. His story recounts the day he andthreefriends cross a strangely recognizable bridge, hoping to meet up with aprofessor named Doctor Waterman who's holed up in an almost inaccessiblecabin. The professor has gotten his hands on a 1,000 year old bookwrittenin many different languages that he calls 'The Bible of Evil,' whichmakesreference to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Persian Gulf, the Lord's Prayerwritten backwards, the forces of good and evil, demonology, the naturalmethodology of symbols, and demon resurrection. The doctor has, asexpected, become as amateur demonologist and tried a few of theexperimentsfor the manifestation of certain creatures. His notes, found in the bookitself, claim that his knowledge was premature and that he was unable tocontrol what he created. When Dave reads the doctor's notes, the sceneisuncannily similar to a another from some other film that involves adoctor'snotes on a tape-recorder. Later, we see Dr. Waterman possessed bysomethingas he runs through the woods. Oddly enough, there's also reference to aspiraling vortex and a fluctuating dimension where we see a medievalcastleand an evil flying stop-motion demon - hmmmn. In addition, several ofthecast-members get possessed, and Jim Hudson (played by WKRP's FrankBonner)even gets an evil doppleganger (can you say `Evil Ash'?). And, at onepoint, Dave yells, `Into the woods,' which automatically brings Raimi's`Within the Woods' to mind in a weird de-ja-vu sense when you actuallyhearit said. Nevertheless, `Evil Dead 2' is still a much better film andtonsmore entertaining, but this is a nice reference point for any fan of theRaimi movies. Purchase this at any cost!
Lots of other weird stuff here too: 1) Susan is almost raped by Asmodeus(Satan as a park-ranger), who apes Billy Idol's sneer in a very weirdscene.Luckily, her crucifix (y'know, the one that swings down by hernear-perfectass throughout the film) saves her. 2) The Ray Harryhausen-likestop-motionanimation, created by future Oscar-winner Dennis Muren (of later `StarWars'fame), is amazing! Everything from his Cthulhu-looking octopus, to hisflying demon, to his 30 foot Aztec Gorilla with the furry forearms, tohisbig aborigine/caveman are spectacular! 3) The group of students is themostmatter-of-factly group of kids since Scooby-Doo and the gang. They'renot abit scared when they hear maniacal laughing from a dark cave and seeweirdprehistoric footprints. Instead, they make torches and investigate! 4)EdBegley Jr was an assistant cameraman on this film, and he ended up doingvoices on `Scooby-Doo.' 5) There's a wonderful cameo from legendarysci-fiauthor Fritz Leiber in a small role. Leiber once wrote a short-story in1950called `The Enchanted Forest'). 6) Satan is a park-ranger!