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Old 06-17-2005, 08:34 PM
Scored: 6
Views: 13,064
Default Incubus, The

Reviewer: Rhett
Review Date: February 17, 2003

Released by: Elite
Release date: 7/30/2002
MSRP: $24.95
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes

In the early 80’s, Canada had become somewhat of a formidable force in the North American film market. Porky’s had become one of the most profitable films ever made, and many Toronto based companies had several films in the pipeline each month. The majority of these films were horror; some good, like Prom Night and My Bloody Valentine, and some bad, like Death Ship. The Incubus was yet another Canadian horror film released in 1981, though it was not as successful as many of the other Canadian horror films. Did The Incubus fly under the radar for a reason, or is this an overlooked gem? Let’s delve into this one, shall we?

The Story

inline Image The film begins with a couple of horny teens doing what they do best. They are sharing a romantic evening on a desolate beach, playing little tricks with one another along the way. When the boyfriend goes to get some schnazzy 80’s beats to play on their boom box, Mandy decides to play a little trick. She hides out in a poorly lit and abandoned shack (not the brightest star in the sky, is she?) and moments later is rendered unconscious and raped by an unknown perpetrator. Her boyfriend hears the noises and goes to investigate, but a rusty nail to the head is all that he finds.

inline ImageDr. Sam Cordell (John Cassavetes) is the doctor assigned to the aforementioned attack, but unfortunately for him that is not the only case he will have to examine. The unknown stalker has struck again, raping and killing another woman. After examining the blood samples, Cordell discovers that whoever is doing these murders is extremely vicious and full of semen. A policeman suggests that, given the bodily damage to the victims and the vast amount of ejaculate found on the victims, it must be a gang of people, but Cordell is convinced this is the act of one heinous monster. The plot begins to thicken as Cordell’s daughter, Jenny (Erin Flannery), discovers that her boyfriend, Tim (Duncan McIntosh), may be linked with the killings.

Tim confesses to Jenny that he has been having perverse dreams involving a woman in a torture chamber with a bunch of monks, and every time he seems to have this dream someone is killed. Is Tim really doing these killings, or is his solemn grandmother to blame? Dr. Cordell, along with his daughter and a feisty young reporter are determined to crack this case, even if it means one of their lives.

inline Image Spawned in a time when both slashers and the supernatural were drawing young moviegoers to the box office in droves, The Incubus is a film that tried to combine both successful formulas. It failed. The burden of its failure lies upon the shoulders of screenwriter George Franklin for making an enigmatic script that raises ideas that it all but abandons in the film’s cop-out climax. It weaves in and out of various plot threads with unfocussed direction, never developing the ideas which it appears to bring up. For instance, throughout the film there seems to be this subconscious suggestion of incest between Jenny and her father, as they embrace and kiss passionately several times throughout. There is even a portion near the start of the film where the father stares longingly at his naked daughter exiting the shower. What comes of this? Absolutely nothing, suggesting that its only inclusion was to satisfy the nudity quotient in the film.

inline ImageThere is more than just that nudity shot, in fact there are several, but it is done in such a meaningless and formulaic manner that it feels entirely out of place. The whole film is formulaic, delivering a breast shot and some blood after every scene of lengthy dialogue. The killer murders woman we know nothing about, making the film’s emotional impact no more affecting than watching the 6 o’clock news. The sad thing is, the film even fails when it comes to its copious amounts of nudity and blood. The story is so murky and serious that the happenings on the screen become about as enjoyable as the Queen’s New Years address. Nobody involved in the film really seems to care about what is going in the film, so why should the audience?

inline Image The film is not a total misfire; the film’s direction by John Hough (The Watcher in the Woods and The Legend of Hell House) is full of competent and at times intriguing camera work. The film is fairly nice to look at from a stylistic point of view, with suggestive camera angles and an altering depth of perception. Faces and shadows reflect off mirrors, come in and out of the foreground and sneak in from all sides of the frame, making the film at the bare minimum a satisfying visual experience. Other than that though, there is little else to recommend the film on. Had the script been revamped and actually tied up, then this perhaps would have made for a decent film. As it stands however, this is a tolerable, but unsatisfying 90 minutes.

Image Quality

inline Image Elite Entertainment presents The Incubus in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, and it is fairly average. The print is fairly washed out, with poor saturation and an intermittent grain, and looks its 20+ year old age. There are some print blemishes throughout, but generally the transfer is fairly clean. Black levels were fairly strong, and the frequent spurts of blood were consistent. Overall the transfer is kind ho-hum, like the film, but considering the film’s obscurity, this is probably the best transfer of The Incubus that fans will get.


The audio on this disc is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Everything is audible and the minimalist score sounds fairly chilling, but overall this track sounds flat. This is a 22 year old film, and sounds it.

Supplemental Material

inline Image The only extra on this disc is a trailer and it looks about as good as the feature. It sums up the story nicely, so give it a look and then pop something better in your player instead of watching the entire film.

Final Thoughts

The Incubus is a murky attempt at combining the slasher film with the supernatural, and the results are fairly unsatisfying. There is some nice camera work present, but other than that this is a missed opportunity, given its somewhat interesting premise. The disc delivers on the bottom line, and fans of the film should be satisfied, but all others should look elsewhere for solid early 80’s horror.


Movie – C
Image Quality – C+
Sound – D
Supplements – D

Technical Info.
  • Running Time - 1 hour 33 minutes
  • Color
  • Rated R
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter stops
  • English Mono
  • Theatrical trailer

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