• Incubus, The

    Released by: Scorpion Releasing
    Released on: January 22, 2013.
    Director: John Hough
    Cast: John Cassavetes, John Ireland, Kerrie Keane
    Year: 1983
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    Its all about the Benjamins.

    I'm a big fan of what I call "paycheck Cassavetes". Actor/director/writer John Cassavetes was one the great founders of modern independent cinema. A troubled genius and serious alcoholic with a keen eye for the human condition he's responsible for such classics as A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE, HUSBANDS and FACES. These were serious and highly personal films made under very strict control by the auteur. Cassavetes was infamous for his unbending control of his films - he raised the money and released his films independently with zero meddling from outside sources. He allowed no one to interfere with his vision.

    Which leads us, ironically, to THE INCUBUS. Or more precisely - how a creative talent like Cassavetes wound up in this grade Z sleazefest. The man was a gifted and in demand character actor who was available if the price was right. The very standards that made his own films of such high quality were nowhere to be seen when it came to his actor-for-hire career. Cassavetes appeared in some excellent films like THE DIRTY DOZEN, some classics like ROSEMARY'S BABY and... pulpy mainstream fare like TWO MINUTE WARNING and Brian DePalma's THE FURY. There's even a really entertaining Italian crime flick in there - MACHINE GUN McCAIN.

    But THE INCUBUS, which was a classic Canadian tax shelter horror movie from the early 80's is simply a muddled mess that has the necessary sleazy elements almost within it's grasp to make entertaining schlock but just can't close the sale.

    Cassavetes plays Dr. Sam Cordell, a New England doctor dealing with a rash of brutal rape/murders going on in his small town. Cordell, apparently some kind of pathologist/coroner (he seems to be the only dude in town allowed to determine a cause of death), is taken aback by the massive amounts of sperm left behind in these crimes. THE INCUBUS positively revels in having Cassavetes say the word "sperm" as many times as possible in the film's hour and a half running time. It becomes quite the source of amusement. Cordell is a single dad living with a very strange daughter and their relationship has some unintentionally incestuous overtones. It's hard to tell whether this is a deliberate subtext or simply a result of the actress's lousy skills or Cassavete's quirky line delivery. The daughter, Jenny (Erin Flannery) has a creepy boyfriend who suffers from periodic blackouts that seem to match up with the times of the murder/rapes. There's also a nosy reporter prowling around who gets involved romantically with Cassavetes named Laura Kincaid (Kerrie Keane) who spouts hilariously overwrought dialog like "I don't want tenderness!".

    The set pieces are decently bloody and the pacing is good so at least THE INCUBUS isn't a bore. It also features a surprisingly strong final scene/twist. The blackout angle and half-assed supernatural elements don't really gel though and the acting, aside from Cassavetes oddly compelling performance, is risible. This was one of the great man's last acting jobs so its entirely possible that he was in an alcoholic daze here but hot damn if the man wasn't a PRO. He makes this thing watchable. You kind of want to reach through the screen and grab these pathetic actors and yell "You're in a scene with the great John Cassavetes you fool! Get it together!"

    And for the metal fans please note that the band playing in the film that plays in the movie theatre scene here is SAMSON. This was Bruce Dickinson of IRON MAIDEN fame's first act. Bruce is clearly visible in the clip from the band's "Vice Versa" music video.


    Walter Olsen's excellent Scorpion Releasing delivers THE INCUBUS in a decent 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen transfer. Walter was very upfront about the less than perfect original elements he had to work with but this DVD is certainly the equal of the old and now both pricey and out of print Elite disc. Print damage is there but minimal, colors are strong and detail acceptable. It's more than watchable and at a low $14.95 MSRP simply thank Walter for taking care of you and pay the man.

    Audio is an unspectacular but perfectly serviceable Dolby Digital Mono English track. It's fine. You can hear everything clearly. There are no subtitles.

    Extras are limited to some pretty entertaining trailers (can't wait for ALLEYCAT Scorpion!), the film's original trailer and the Katarina’s Nightmare Theater bookends with the lovely hostess providing some interesting trivia before and after the movie.

    The Final Word:

    THE INCUBUS is a very bad film recommended to John Cassavetes fans. The rest of you need to search your souls for the answer of whether or not to plunk down the bills for this one. It does have some bad movie mojo - and I always err on the side of supporting Scorpion. Recommended - with caveats and reservations.