Thursday, July 23, 2015

evening shade.

Preparing for Ash Vs. Evil Dead let's head back to how it all really started....

Equinox (1970).
Dir: Jack Woods and Dennis Muren.
Cast: Edward Connell, Frank Boers Jr, Barbara Hewitt, Robin Christopher, Jack Woods, Fritz Leiber and James Phillips.

"If you knew what was in that book, you'd turn to jelly! It's not meant for worms like you! What did you think you were gonna do with it - sell it to a museum?"

Opening (as all good movie's should) with a little explosion coupled with the sight of a pair of bloody ladies feet sticking out from behind a bush, we're soon following blond-haired good boy Dave (Connell in his only acting role) as he high-tails it thru' a kiddies swing park and onto the highway only to get hit by a driverless car.

Yup, it's gonna be one of those days.

Suddenly we flash-forward a year and a day to find poor Davey boy confined to what looks like the janitors office of a school - no, hang on it's a special ward for mentalists in the local hospital - where ace reporter Sid Sloane (Bienvenido Hermano Andes star Phillips) is preparing to interview Dave for the local papers 'where are they now?' section.

David tho' isn't too keen on talking to anyone, especially when Sloane starts to ask questions about our mental mates rather lady-like crucifix that he refuses to let go of.

The constant badgering culminates in Dave trying to beat the rascally reporter with a baguette so Sloane, obviously not really being arsed with hearing the story first hand, does what any journalist worth their salt would do and retires to the doctor's office to listen instead to a recording made by Dave soon after being admitted.

Anything else he reckons, he can make up.

Anyway, are you sitting comfortably?

Then we'll begin.

"I can see Megan's house from here!"

It transpires that Dave, his pug nosed and square of face buddy Jim (the original Bruce Campbell and later star of WKRP In Cincinnati Boers,Jr.) and their 'hot'  dates; the curvy yet bird mouthed Susan (Hewitt, younger sister of Jennifer and now a Reverend) and bewigged Russian shot-putter Vicki (Christopher possessing the most terrifying arse ever seen on film) have decided to mix business with pleasure by planning to enjoy a mouth watering KFC picnic whilst Dave is away visiting his old college lecturer Dr. Dennis Waterman (believe it or not it is indeed that Fritz Leiber) who is busy conducting some secretive research on an ancient Sumerian book whilst living in a secluded cabin in the  woods.

Hang on, this sounds familiar.

Followed from afar by the mightily mono-browed forest ranger, Terry Asmodeus (director Woods, who later was in charge of the sound department for Xanadu) our freaky foursome soon find Waterman's cabin destroyed before being accosted by an old piss stained tramp living in a cave who hands them a foul smelling ancient book before skipping away giggling like a loon.

A loon, it has to be said wearing the highest waist trousers I have ever seen.

"Hmmmmm.....mooth shite!"


It seems that Waterman, not content with writing the theme tune and singing the theme tune, has started reciting spells and incantations from the ancient book, first conjuring a huge octopus that went on to destroy his house before accidentally causing a rip in the very fabric of space/time.

As one would.

Deciding it would be a waste of food if they didn't finish the picnic before leaving our heroes pop down a blanket and begin scoffing only to be rudely interrupted by Waterman himself, who grabs the book from their chicken greased fingers before running off into the trees.

Giving chase Dave clumsily cracks the poor doctor's head open on a rock but luckily his body vanishes just as Asmodeus appears from nowhere astride a huge horse.

Luckily he's only turned up to ask the boys to pack up their rubbish after the picnic and is soon on his way, riding off in the direction of the laydees who, even with all this bizarre shite going on, have decided to split up to look for 'something'.

Trip trapping along and using his eyebrows as a girl radar, Asmodeus soon comes across Susan (not literally, well not yet) and after dismounting whips out his magical ring and points it suggestively in her general direction.

Susan suddenly faints, giving Asmodeus ample opportunity to climb on top of her and fondle her peachy arse whilst pulling what can only be described as a stroke victims cum face.

"And when I feel frisky I pull THIS face!"

Dribbling stale spittle all over our hypnotised heroine's hosiery as he kneads her milky white breasts with his sweaty sausage fingers, amorous Asmodeus' advances are cut short when he spies her crucifix lying on the grass, causing him to recoil in terror and run away.

Phew.

It's not long before the rest of the gang find a slightly dishevelled Susan, all grass stains and grope marks sitting against a tree but with the boys being boys and Vicki being more interested in her next meal they totally ignore their pals plight and get straight down to trying to explain the plot to each other.

Dave, being the brainy one has figured that some of the drawings in the book (which I must admit are really good for a five year old) can be used as protection from arcane forces and after fashioning a few out of twigs for everyone (except Susan who's got her cross) head off to confront Asmodeus and hopefully find the doctor (or his still warm corpse) along the way.

Yabba dabba don't.

No sooner have they started walking when the stinky tramp appears from the bushes screaming and shouting, hastily followed by a huge testicle cheeked and tusked monster with ginger arm hair.

Which I'll admit was fairly unexpected.

Quickly catching up with the old man, the beast tosses him about like a tiny plasticine model before turning his attentions to our heroes who quickly hide behind a convenient rock.

"Laugh now!"

Jim realising that he's done absolutely fuck all for the last fifty minutes grabs a big twig that's conveniently lying nearby before sharpening the end and sticking it in the beast, killing it stone dead.  

But its corpse, much like Doctor Waterman's, vanishes before their very eyes (son).

Discovering an invisible inter-dimensional door in a clearing (did I not mention it earlier? Sorry) Dave and Jim decide to investigate further only to have their path blocked by a big green acne covered caveman sporting a handlebar moustache.

The dynamic duo have no choice but to fight.

Or in Jim's case get accidentally pulled thru' the space door by it.

Arse.

"Dave I love you....could it be magic?"

Dave, after telling the girls to head back to the car mounts a one man rescue mission into the unknown and quickly - some would say too quickly - finds a sweaty (and suddenly very large eyebrowed) Jim all set to go home as if nothing had happened.

Not only does he seem totally unphased by all these supernatural shenanigans but he also appears to have lost his memory, seeing as he's full of questions regarding the book, Susan's favourite pop group and how Vicki manages to walk with an arse that size etc.

This alerts Dave to the fact that this might not be his pal at all.

And by Jove he's right, it's really Asmodeus - or as we know him, The Devil - in disguise.

The Prince of Darkness politely asks Dave for the book one last time.

Dave, being a hero refuses giving the big D no choice but to transform into his true form; a cycling shorts wearing, hideous rubbery red demon with massive chicken feet and tissue paper wings before vowing to kill the girls, bugger Dave and take the book by force.

Or was that bugger the book, kill Dave and take the girls up the casino?

Either way it's not going to be pleasant.

"It's CCCCCCCCHHHHHRRRRRIIISSSTTTMMMAAASSSS!!!"

True to his word, Asmodeus flies away and promptly kills Vicki before turning his attentions to Susan.

But Dave, feeling kinda wired and armed with a crucifix and neat hair arrives in time to challenge Old Nick to one final battle.

Which seems to consist of Asmodeus shouting a lot and setting fire to stuff whilst Dave and Susan run away.

Until Susan is blasted into oblivion by a well aimed thunderbolt at least.

Dave, having the choice between checking his girlfriend is really dead or legging it to the highway chooses the latter whilst a very angry Asmodeus shouts a warning to our hero that he  will die in exactly a year and a day from this point.

Which is spookily where we came in.

Back at the hospital neither the Sloane nor any of the doctors believe any of Dave's story, preferring to imagine that he bludgeoned everyone to death with the KFC bucket before attempting to run himself over, even going as far as laughing amongst themselves when our reporter chum realises that he's 'accidentally' taken Dave's crucifix.

Making his farewells a smug as fuck Sloane is about to leave the hospital when he bumps into a fairly attractive young blonde in an old ladies suit.

Unknown to him the blonde is an undead Susan preparing to fulfil Asmodeus' prophecy of death.




Originally produced in 1967 by the special FX equivalent of Me Me Me; Dennis Muren, Dave Allen and Jim Danforth, Equinox: A Journey into The Supernatural (as it was then) was a lovingly made home movie love letter to stop motion and scary movies, an amateurish yet amiable enough way to spend seventy odd minutes.

But little did they know that sound editor extraordinare (and writer of Son Of The Blob) Jack Woods, having a few quid spare, would pick up the movie to allow it the cinema release it so richly deserved.

"Scarper! It's the parkie!"


As is the way with these things, Woods ordered some reshoots, chopped and changed the order of certain scenes and, feeling that what was missing from the film was a central villain so created the role of Asmodeus for the movie.


The self casting was probably due to the director being unable to find anyone convincing enough to play The Devil himself.


Either that or he just fancied thrusting his middle-aged semi against a couple of writhing young girls.

Take your pick.

 Monsta!


 Filling out this already mixed bag of professional actors (OK one professional actor), sixties style hotties and rubbery (thank you) monsters is the unlikely casting of horror writer Fritz Leiber as Waterman and, as the mysterious voice on the tape, sci-fi/horror God Forrest J. Ackerman meaning that not one performance on show is pitched the same way twice.


Other, less educated film types would say that this amateur hour mix of non-acting and vertigo inducing over the top-ness kills the film stone dead before it's even given a chance to begin but I like to think that it adds an almost guerilla style rawness to the proceedings, the performances enhancing the films nightmarish qualities to a point that transcends mere cinema and almost convinces you that what you are watching is somehow real.


Probably.

Worth a looksie if you've ever wondered what The Evil Dead would look Like if it had a budget of twelve quid and access to a rubber octopus, you owe it to yourselves and your family to see this masterpiece.

Look it's out on Criterion so it must be good.

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