But what prompted this post was, while perusing the list of Critrion films available for viewing, I came across one called Equinox. My reaction was to rear back in horror, going "Wha-a-a-a-a...?"
Way back in my mispent youth, when the local SF club CASFS was first being established, I was, for a while, the vice-president. Like the National VP job, the position didn't have many official duties. But one duty was to provide programming for the club meetings. Sometimes this was discussion topics, sometimes audio (Bruce Dane provided tapes of the radio version of Hitchhikers' Guide To The Galaxy for one meeting), sometimes films.
At one meeting, where I had planned to show a particular film, the video rental store (remember those?) didn't have that particular film available. So I perused the shelves and spotted something that looked like it might be of interest as a substitute. That was Equinox. From the description on the box, it not only had Harryhausen-type animation, but... hey!... Fritz Leiber was in the cast.
It's said an actor can only be as good as the script he has to work with. Lieber only had a few(mercifully) brief scenes in Equinox. The movie's MacGuffin was an Evil Book Of Evil Evilness; Leiber played the professor who had discovered the EBOEE, and his main scene (dialogue-free) was basically to express dumbstruck horror at the Evil Evilness inside the book.
That scene didn't require much acting, because I'm pretty sure the book contained the script for the rest of the movie. The years have mercifully blotted out most of the details, but Equinox was one of the most purely awful movies I have ever seen. Clunking story, bad dialogue, worse acting, the stop-motion segments were unimpressive, and the direction and cinematography were awful. Everything about the movie screamed cheap, amateur, and shoestring. (It started out life as a student project.)
Showing that movie at that club meeting was one of the most embarassing moments I can remember. As the malformed, spavined thing clunked on and on, people there kept looking at me with "What were you thinking?" looks on their faces. And I couldn't bring myself to turn off the video player, because I kept thinking that somewhere, at some point in the movie, there would have to be some redeeming social value.
So when I saw Equinox included as part of the Criterion Collection of films, my reaction was one of understandable horror and confusion. The Criterion Collection includes a lot of "art house" films, and I've found a goodly number of those to be... well, boring. But even with those I haven't personally liked, I've been able to recognize that there's some distinguishing value to be found.
But Equinox? Bloody Equinox? Stinking, clunking, wretched, abominable, painfully bad Equinox?
Criterion, really, what the fuck were you thinking?
(I've heard it said that map publishers will deliberately insert one very minor error into their maps, so that if the map is copied by others, the counterfeit maps can be identified by the presence of that error. Could the presence of one undeniably bad film among all the other Criterion selections be something similar?)