When David Fielding (Edward Connell) is found in a semi-catatonic state he is committed to an asylum. Before he descends into a world of his own, he relays what happened to him and his friends.
David had been contacted by his professor, Dr. Watermann (Fritz Leiber Jr.). Watermann had been living in a cabin in the woods doing research. David plans on bringing his friend Jim Hudson (Frank Bonner) with him. Jim decides to make the trip a picnic and brings along his girlfriend Vicki (Robin Christopher) and a blind date for David, Susan Tanner (Barbara Hewitt).
When the kids get to the cabin, they find it destroyed and Watermann is missing. They run into a creepy forest ranger named Asmodeus (Jack Woods) who says he hasn’t seen the professor. While hiking back to their car they come upon a cave. Strange cackling sounds come from deep within it. Fashioning torches the gang enters the cave. They find an old man (Lewis Clayton) who gives them an ancient book of demonic magic. Eventually they find out that Watermann used the book and opened a Pandora’s box full of evil.
They also learn that Asmodeus is actually the devil and knows that they have the ancient book. He sends enchanted creatures to stop them from escaping with it. David’s friends get picked off one by one until David is the last to tell the story.
“Equinox” AKA “The Beast” was released in 1970 and was directed by Jack Woods, Dennis Muren and Mark Thomas McGee. It is a supernatural horror fantasy film. The film started out as an amateur short by Dennis Muren, Dave Allen and Jim Danorth. Producer Jack H. Harris had additional footage made to increase the film’s run time to feature length. Dennis Muren also did the special effects on the film.
Dennis Muren would go on to work on such films as various Star Wars films, E.T. 1982, Terminator 2 1991, and Jurassic Park 1993 as well as many other well-known films.
As a feature film it’s crap. As a home grown amateur experimental film, it’s a lot of fun with some creepy and silly monsters, one looking like a cross between King Kong and Ymir from “20 Million Miles to Earth” 1957. It also sports lots of cheezy scenes. And it is definitely amateurish. The acting is bad, except for Bonner who is actually decent. The story is rather uneven and, at times, reminiscent of “The Evil Dead” 1981. The film starts out a little boring. It doesn’t really get interesting until the monsters show up, but when they do it ends up being enjoyable nonsense.
Ed Begley Jr. was the assistant cameraman on the film. It is Frank Bonner’s film debut. Bonner played Herb Tarlick in the television show “WKRP in Cincinnati”. Louis Clayton, who plays the old man in the cave, was Dennis Muren’s grandfather. Science fiction author Fritz Leiber has a cameo.
All the dialogue was done in post-production. Scenes with the creatures were done using forced perspective and stop motion. The film was shot on Big Tujunga Canyon Road, Angeles National Forest, Bronson Canyon and Dennis Muren’s back yard. The cave opening featured in the film was used as the secret exit of the Batcave in the original 1960's Batman television series.