on 4 April 2011
In the quiet town of Galen, a priapic entity with an insatiable drive to procreate is killing young women. Meanwhile Tim Galen (Duncan McIntosh) is experiencing violent nightmares. Who and what is the Incubus?
Though not graphic, John Hough's The incubus is full of perverse undercurrents, odd imagery and disturbing dialogue. One of the most interesting things the film does is turn the conventions of a whodunit and the subsequent need to generate suspects into layer after layer of all pervading sickness. The nominal hero, Dr Sam Cordell, John Cassavetes, is a very strange man indeed. Not only is it heavily implied that he harbours a quasi-sexual interest in his own daughter,Jenny (Erin Noble), but that he is drawn to a local journalist, Laura kincaid (Kerrie Keen), because she looks eerily like the girlfriend he may have killed. In truth none of the more adult characters are entirely what they seem to be. Not even the initially protective Agatha Galen (Helen Hughes) or kindly police officer, Hank Walden (John Ireland) escape the town's history.
The nature of the evil stalking Galen is implied rather than explicit. There are repeated images of doors being wrenched free of their hinges, as well as good use of the distorting effects of frosted and shattered glass.
Most of the real horror is conveyed through continual references to internal damage and inhuman amounts of bodily fluids. The creature is only really seen late in the film.
The Incubus divides opinion, with some viewers insisting it is disjointed and boring. Personally, I think it's a good truly unhinged and ultimately very grim horror film that fits with the slasher cycle.
on 14 June 2015
I actually caught this again on Youtube, some 25 to 30 years after originally seeing it on VHS. It's a tight, gripping chiller that actually turned out to be better than I remembered. Yes it's a modest budget and the film looks a little grainy at times but it's well made and I was surprised at just how disturbing the murder/rape scenes were. They mostly avoid graphic gore but are horrific in terms of the acting of the victims; you can really believe the women are suffering. The attack on the librarian is one of the most disturbing assaults I have ever seen, despite not a drop of blood shown until her body is discovered. Everything is down to editing, cinematography, sound, music & performance rather than Tom Savini style fx work
That's not to say there is no gore as there is a particularly grisly scene where a farmer gets a shovel impaled in his neck and then proceeds to accidentally shoot his foot off with a double barrelled shotgun ala Straw Dogs. The monster then proceeds to wipe out the farmer's two daughters in another tension filled attack that has echoes of the shower scene in Psycho and also enforces a rule that being wheelchair bound will not save you from the demon's lust. There's another equally chilling attack at the local cinema so there is plenty of onscreen horror present.
Much of the brutality of the rapes is depicted post mortem during the autopsy scenes with graphic talk of ruptured uterus and associated injuries. There are though a lot of scenes with white sheets over the bodies with the blood visible in the appropriate area that are quite disturbing .
The incubus itself is only fully glimpsed during the final 5 or 10 minutes (during the attacks you never see more than maybe an arm or the creature's pov). I found the make up fx for the creature to be reasonably effective and (bearing in mind this is a shapeshifting demon) I was completely surprised by the monster's alter, human ego (having not remembered from my viewing years before) so it was a nice twist. The film actually is not as graphic as the book, in that it holds back from explicitly showing one particularly disturbing aspect of the creature's anatomy, its rather unusually large reproductive organ, only depicting the damage that it inflicts upon it's female victims. Sometimes imagination really can be worse!
I wasn't too impressed with the overall acting nor the characters, hence only 3 stars. It's the autumnal mood and atmosphere of small town America that I enjoyed more along with the shocking attacks. The music is quite eerie and ominous at times too. Also it's surprising how creepy a close up of the human eye can be too; literally a window to the soul. I watched this at about 1am and I admit to feeling a little creeped out at bedtime - I'm sure it would have been worse if I were a woman!
Let's just say this is not a date movie!
It's a strange film in that it possibly has loftier ambitions than just a creature feature and although it falls short of Exorcist or Omen heights, it is much more than just a lurid monster movie. The director, John Hough had already brought us the very impressive Legend Of Hell House (1973) which stands alongside 1963's The Haunting and 1978's The Evil (Richard Crenna) as the unholy trinity of haunted house horror movies.
I read the 1976 book of The Incubus, again many years ago, and have ordered that off Amazon just today. Looking forward to it.
on 14 October 2013
1981 was a banner year for horror cinema what with the slew of escaped maniacs and mad slashers stalking movie theaters across the nation. John Hough's Incubus starts off like one of those 'stalk and kill' flicks, but it soon becomes apparent there's something else going on altogether. Hough had previously directed two brilliant horror pictures in the 1970s--Twins of Evil (1971) and The Legend of Hell House(1973) and then went on to do other things besides horror. Incubus is a surprisingly effective, well made and generally unpleasant pseudo-Gothic terror tale about demon rape and a small town with a dark secret. In the small North American community of Galen, a physician named Sam (John Cassavetes) suddenly comes face to face with a series of grotesque rapes in which the women have all died from massive trauma sustained during the violent attacks. A young man (McIntosh) has dreams about the attacks and fears that he may be unwittingly responsible for the deaths. But the horrible truth is that an incubus, a demon that preys on women, is now stalking the town... The film has a great and unnerving score and some excellent direction by John Hough, a man who should've gone on to bigger and better things in my opinion. With a slow and steady pace, the film manages to grab your attention from the very beginning til the disturbing end. The perfectly spooky locations were great too, especially the library/museum. The Incubus is a fine fright flick that is sure to please fans of the genre looking for something just a bit offbeat and different. It's sleazy, but it doesn't bask in its sleaziness, which makes it all the more unsettling while having minimal gore, what little gore it has however was quite effective. With fine performances and set pieces The Incubus plays of as an effective chiller. I would say that it was an underrated horror flick as it didn't do to well in the theaters and was panned by alot of critics during it's release. Fans of the film should be ultimately pleased while newcomers should find themselves to be pleasantly surprised, I highly recommend this. It also has an eerie and disturbing atmosphere. The Incubus comes to us from Scorpion's Katarina's Nightmare Theater line. The film was previously released by BCI Eclipse, and I suspect that this is the same disc being re-released. The only extra is a trailer (plus trailers for other Scorpion/Katarina discs).
on 8 June 2015
Excellent under-the-radar cheapie horror flick starring the magnificent John Cassavetes of Rosemary's Baby fame.
He is a medical examiner in small town America who gets involved in the hunt for a brutal rapist-killer.
The acting, especially from Cassavetes , is first-rate all round, and the story is unusual and creepy ( especially a strange semi-incestuous subplot involving Cassavetes' character and his daughter).
When the gore scenes arrive, they do not disappoint and the film's final shot is epic.
This little diamond in the rough was a great find and I recommend it whole heartedly.
on 23 April 2014
A distinct 80's feel, with a few nods to the 70's, in the solid camera work & of course questionable costumes of fashions now long dead, shouldn't put anyone fond of exploitation flicks off this quiet, perverse, pandaemonic frightner. Under the surface is a rather horrible direct, almost legendary mythos at work. It may begin slow, take an even pace, but lets not forget those moments of exposition explaining the hideously painful, ghastly rapes, the fluids involved...and add to the mix Cassavetes almost perpetual expression of priapic pan, a hang over from Rosemarys Baby perhaps. He looks a sweaty wry grinning dangerous man. And he's the hero...
What then occurs is subtle, occasionally flashbang, more often tending to move from thriller to creepy horror in short space of time; only to then veer toward an atmospheric drama, for some reason similar to director Hough's Legend of Hell House and Gary Shermans Dead & Buried. Not overly grim or drab but with a sense of impending menace that plays under the surface. And when we do glimpse the 'creature' of the Incubus, well, on the credits Les Edwards was involved so that hints at its value. It did recall shots from the old classic Haxan in the threat & Bosch like shape of the entity in question.
Not a modern flick, not fast paced, not full of gory stuff. Yet this can leave one with a taste in the mouth afterward, a delightful long finish, plenty of tannins itching the teeth as it spits you out. Be thankful the truly horrible was moderately hinted at here in lieu of playing out every scenario, because by its description it would be an appalling film experience without a notch of Hough's control. A minor,but potent classic from the glorious eighties...a calmer viewing than The Sentinel but with an eye to tainting the viewer...
on 6 September 2014
Just awful.....a terrible film even with the usually excellent John Cassavetes in it...still havent a clue what happened at the end
on 23 August 2014
I was prepared to give this one a go purely because I hadn't seen a horror film on the subject before, and I was curious to see how the story was handled.
Of course, to modern audiences the film would seen odd as conventions and film technique shift, change, update, and vary across the decades, so I was prepared to forgive anything which felt dated. Yes, it does feel dated; quite a few things which have now become cliches in horror films feature, such as the horny couple getting attacked, the archetypal local cop, the interfering reporter etc. However, this was not what disappointed me. I want a horror film to grip me, scare me, make me feel unease or dread, make me question the world, have me on the edge of my seat - any one of those things is enough to make me watch films. This film, however, has none of them.
I felt nothing for any of the characters, I did not dread when the next attack might occur, I didn't care who died or who might be involved in the attacks. For me, that's the mark of bad film-making. If you can't engage with anything in the film (characters, plot, nature of the monster, mystery, film style), what can its purpose be? The dialogue was pretty chronic and ridiculous in places, the acting was pretty poor (even John Cassavetes can't seem to summon up the enthusiasm to show much expression), and the film-making feels lazy. The characters are so badly drawn that we know very little about them beyond their purpose in this story; Sam's daughter, for instance, seems to do very little apart from wander about aimlessly or wait around for the phone to ring, the local cop has no other crime to investigate or paperwork to do and hangs around waiting for attacks to happen yet is surprised when they do. Everything in the film feels staged; the hospital appears to have few patients and its morgue is disturbingly close to its patient wards, police protocol appears to go completely out-of-the-window and the local Dr does more work on the case of the attacks than the police - and this is never questioned.
Don't get me wrong, I can suspend my disbelief for a decent film, in fact, if the film is intriguing enough I don't even notice some of this stuff. I respect other people's views of this film; if they engaged with it, that's fine, I just couldn't find any redeeming features which add up to an enjoyable film experience. Perhaps then, I could say that the film has niche appeal and it is not one which the average film-goer would be blown away by. Also, I would warn potential viewers that the subject matter could be disturbing for some; the attacks involve violent rapes, which, although never seen, are still discussed by the characters.
on 16 August 2014
For the life of me I can't see how this film got good reviews: In my opinion, the acting was wooden, the direction stilted and poor storyline. Absolute rubbish!
on 12 May 2014
I'VE NEVER WATCHED THIS BUT I'M IMPRESSED WITH ALL THE SECRECY AND FINE ACTING, THIS FILM BRINGS OUT THE HORROR BUG AS IT'S NOT TOO GORY BUT THE BODILY FLUIDS GET YOU ON THE EDGE OF YOUR SEAT, THIS IS A VERY ENJOYABLE HORROR NO SWEARING. YE A BIT OF NUDITY BUT NOTHING EVERY YOUNGSTER HASN'T SEEN BY THE AGE OF 12 THESE DAYS, IF YOU WANT A GOOD FILM TO INTRODUCE YOUR TEEN INTO HORRORS THIS WOULD BE THE ONE TO WATCH. AT THE END THE SHOCKER'S A DOOZY SO WATCH WITH YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS HAVE A HORROR NIGHT IN. CHERRY LIQUERS ANYONE!!!!