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Incubus (1966)

Unrated | | Horror | 26 October 1966 (USA)
On a strange island inhabited by demons and spirits, a man battles the forces of evil.

Director:

Leslie Stevens

Writer:

Leslie Stevens
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
William Shatner ... Marc
Allyson Ames Allyson Ames ... Kia
Eloise Hardt Eloise Hardt ... Amael
Robert Fortier Robert Fortier ... Olin
Ann Atmar Ann Atmar ... Arndis
Milos Milos Milos Milos ... Incubus
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Storyline

Kia is a succubus, luring to their final perdition men who already have sinful habits and libertine inclinations. She tires of this, it's too easy, and these souls are going to Hell anyway. She wants to match wits and charm with someone who is good. So, against the advice of her sister Amael, Kia seeks out Marc, a man who has already faced death with courage. After a night together, Kia finds that not only is Marc's goodness still intact, but she has been ravaged by love. In anger, she and Amael conjure an incubus to deal with Marc. The incubus starts with Marc's sister, Arndis. Who will win the struggle for souls? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Robert Fortier, who plays Kia's first conquest Olin, later guest starred with William Shatner in Star Trek: The Original Series: By Any Other Name (1968) as Tomar of Kelva, a lackey for the villain-of-the-week. See more »

Goofs

On one of the DVD commentary tracks, Anthony M. Taylor explains that the original screenplay was written in English and then translated into Esperanto. A sole surviving print of the film was found in Paris, subtitled in French. A copy of the original screenplay was found and the English language subtitles are based on the script, not a translation of the spoken Esperanto dialogue back to English, so any mistranslations are actually from the English to Esperanto, not vice versa, or else were changes which were not incorporated back into the original English language script. The English subtitles are sometimes erratic. For example, at one point Marc says to Kia: "I want us to be together. To stay together ... as man and woman." This matches the Esperanto dialogue. Then he says, "Mi volas havi infanon." The correct translation: "I want to have a child." The subtitles say: "The right way." He also says, "Mi deziras, ke ni estas kune." Translation: "I want us to be together." Subtitles say, "I want your body ... and I want to give you mine." See more »

Quotes

Amael: He has faced death, Kia.
Kia: They all face death, all of them.
Amael: He was unafraid!
Kia: Is that so pure and noble? The beasts in the fields have courage. The smallest bird will beat its wings and claw a weasel in its nest.
Amael: But his courage went beyond self-preservation.
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Connections

Featured in Blade: Trinity (2004) See more »

User Reviews

 
Fascinating, unique, underappreciated
29 January 2001 | by rch427See all my reviews

Writer/Director Leslie Stevens was previously best-known as the man behind the TV series "The Outer Limits", and it shows. Everything about this film is moody, atmospheric and vaguely threatening, while still tinged with beauty. The real surprise is that "Incubus" is much better than just an extended Outer Limits.

Shot in Big Sur on the central California coast in just two weeks and under a very small budget, the film more than makes up for those limitations with an imaginative script, fantastic visuals and well-nuanced acting. William Shatner gives what I consider to be the most subtle, unmannered performance of his career as the protagonist -- a weary, wounded soldier. The succubus who aims to cause his downfall is more than ably portrayed by Allyson Ames, who would've been quite at home in any Bergman film.

Bergman is, in fact, a reference point, with a few scenes obviously inspired by "Persona", "The Seventh Seal" and perhaps "Wild Strawberries". Other influences seem to be some of Kurosawa's early work and even Greek tragedies.

Many people consider the fact that every bit of dialogue (and even the credits) were in the Esperanto language, to be merely a gimmick. In fact, it was an inspired decision, and makes the film independent of time and place; perfectly complimenting the otherworldly mood. Most of the actors do quite well with it, and after a few minutes it sounds natural, and a bit like a cross between Swedish and Latin.

There are a few niggling problems: the actress who portrays the older succubus has a terrible declaimatory style, there are occasionally irrational plot turns, and worse -- the obtrusive subtitles that block out a large swath of the screen. This was necessitated by the fact that only one print of the film survived, and it had had French subtitles printed on it. When the print was rediscovered, director Stevens had to restore it for English-speaking audiences by blocking English subtitles over the top of the French!

I must mention the score, by Outer Limits composer Dominic Frontiere, which perfectly compliments the film. Conrad Hall's cinematography is at times breathtaking -- especially in one scene where Shatner wanders through a field by moonlight, the grasses swirling around him.

The film's denouement stays just on the better side of moralizing and manages to avoid heavy-handed Christian references. Indeed, the statues of Jesus, Mary and various saints in the village chapel seem just as threatening as the demons outside.

Although not quite as morally ambiguous as "The Wicker Man" (and probably shot for 1/10 the budget and in 1/10th the time), Incubus nevertheless is one of my favorite "horror" films of the 1960s, and well worth viewing. By the way, I disagree with the other poster suggested that Incubus is best viewed in a large group. I suggest that the intimate scale of this film works best when watched alone on a rainy night. Prepare to be frightened, disturbed and surprised.

A macabre footnote: within a year, both the actress who portrayed Shatner's sister and the actor who played the incubus would commit suicide.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

Esperanto

Release Date:

26 October 1966 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Leslie Stevens' Incubus See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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