SATURDAY MAY 4th - MIDNIGHT
(a/k/a: The Beast, The Equinox... A Journey Into the Supernatural)
Presented by Jack H. Harris.
Dir. Dennis Muren / Jack Woods, 1970
80 mins, USA
In August of 2012, Spectacle played host for the New York premiere of a shot-on-video horror anthology called SLAUGHTER TALES. The film was helmed in nearly every department by a then 15 year old from Philadelphia who goes by Johnny Dickie. Dickie wrote, directed, starred in, and provided a veritable cornucopia of practical special effects. With only a few locations and a long shooting schedule, SLAUGHTER TALES was a homegrown labor of love from a young filmmaker with an obvious appreciation of that slice of horror. While certainly not perfect, the film had it's heart and head in the right place...usually removed from the body and covered in stage blood.
Though SLAUGHTER TALES likely won't be relegated to the classic status of a film as mighty as EQUINOX (Sorry, Johnny!), it's comforting to know that the idea that if you love movies, you can still get together with your friends and make something that lies somewhere between pet project and a sleeper cult hit to be discovered years later.
In 1965 a young Dennis Muren had a choice to make. He was 17 and could use the money his grandfather had set aside for him to either go to college or do something sensible and make a feature length genre defining, effects pioneering film. Having made the right choice, Muren and friends David Allen and Mark McGee set about making their vision come to life and over the course of the next two and a half years THE EQUINOX...A JOURNEY INTO THE SUPERNATURAL was born. Among their support group was none other than Forrest J. Ackerman (famed/revered/beloved editor of FAMOUS MONSTERS - who would also lend his voice to the film in an uncredited cameo!) who helped the gang to snag Fritz Leiber in the role of Dr. Waterman. Muren and Allen headed up the technical side and dove headfirst into the special effects. Monsters abounded, winged demons poured out the ether, and giants stomped around the screen with terrifying voracity. And all reportedly to the tune of less than $7,000!
With the film completed, Muren set out to show it to the world but that proved to be difficult. Initially trying for a TV release, Muren ended up shopping it around Hollywood. The premise and eye popping special effects grabbed the attention of Jack H. Harris. Harris had been the man who picked up THE BLOB (and later DARK STAR, SCHLOCK, DINOSAURUS, 4D MAN, etc). He shortened the title to EQUINOX and hired Jack Woods to beef up the run-time. Rehiring the original actors and casting himself as in the role of Asmodeus, Woods (with Ed Begley Jr on ass't camera duties) retooled the creature feature and soon 35mm prints were stuck! The film was unleashed on the world and in the coming years would help mold the very essence of the "cabin in the woods" subgenre. Without EQUINOX arguably, there would be no EVIL DEAD series.
In the wake of EQUINOX many of it's creators would flourish. Dennis Muren continued down the path of effects work and would soon have a wheelbarrow full of Acdemy Awards for his efforts on films like the STAR WARS trilogy, ET, JURASSIC PARK, DRAGONSLAYER, CAPTAIN EO, and more recently SUPER 8. David Allen also pretty much changed the game in terms of effects while working on films like WILLOW, HONEY I SHRUNK THE KIDS and became responsible for all things good in the world of Full Moon features with work on DOLLS, OBLIVION, and the PUPPET MASTER films to name a few. While this is Jack Woods only directing credit, he would end up with a lengthy sound department resume with titles like PHANTASM II and the STAR TREK franchise.
Spectacle Midnights are humbled and honored to present this film (a favorite around the Goth Bodega) with the kind permission of Jack H. Harris and featuring a very special video intro from Mr. Dennis Muren himself (!!!) to cap off what will undoubtedly be an unforgettable evening.
Trailer by Matt Posey.