Wednesday, July 20, 2011

#338: Equinox

(Jack Woods, 1970)

Is there anything worse than computer generated effects? There was a time when special effects were all about cleverness and extreme creativity. With computers, artistry has become craft and no one asks "How did they do that?" anymore because everyone knows the answer. The biggest victim of this technological shift is spectacle (did anyone care about the mass of ships that were clearly easily duplicated in Troy?) but creature design  - with a few exceptions - has taken a real hit, since everything is drawn instead of crafted these days.

Of the old masters pre-CGI, Dennis Muren was one of the greats, most famous for his work on Star Wars. This early entry in his catalog, however, is extremely entertaining. It's an homage to the creature features of the 1950s about a group of kids that get caught up in a mystical battle for control of secret evil powers. The production value is very low, the acting only moderately passable, and the story alternates between overused tropes and campy cheese. But it's all saved by the straight-faced delivery and Muren's gloriously inventive effects, especially the monster designs. This is one of the more unusual entries in the Collection, but it's a welcomed one.

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