The Incubus

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Galen is a small New England town, not known for much aside from being a peaceful area, but it is now home to some horrific events. A series of brutal murders has rocked the small town, with bodies turning up on a regular basis, all slain in sadistic fashion. As if that wasn’t enough to shake up the locals, a number of rapes have also taken place in the same time period. Dr. Sam Cordell (John Cassavetes) is a surgeon and pathologist, new to Galen, but he agrees from the start to lend his expertise to help solve the awful crimes. Along with police chief Hank Walden (John Ireland), Cordell spends a large amount of time on the case, looking into whatever leads, evidence, and clues that exist, though few of them have turned up. This leaves the police baffled, though a potential lead soon emerges in the form of Cordell’s daughter’s boyfriend, who claims to be having horrible visions that coincide with the murders. But what dark force looms over Galen, is it just a madman on the loose, or something far more sinister?

Even within circles of bad horror movie fans, you’re not going to run into a whole lot of fans of The Incubus. I’m not sure why so many people dislike this movie, but its probably because of how disturbing and offbeat the picture becomes. No, The Incubus isn’t an all out gore festival, instead it involves some taboo issues, explored in ways most audiences don’t want to even think about, let alone watch unfold on the screen. The Incubus deals with incest, necrophelia, and other violent issues that involve sex & death, but it doesn’t skirt around them, instead it confronts them and forces the viewers to do the same. The film is quite graphic at times, though if you’re a veteran of intense horror cinema, you won’t be too shocked. But combine these topics and the film’s confrontational nature with some bleak, eerie visuals, and it all works together to create a dark, very disturbing motion picture. So if you’re easily offended, you won’t be too pleased with The Incubus, but I don’t think it is bad as its reputation maintains. I recommend this disc to fans of offbeat, disturbing horror and I hope it finds new life on DVD.

As twisted as this material can become at times, it always seems legitimate, thanks in part to the presence of John Cassavetes. While Cassavetes passed on in 1989, his career was loaded with superb efforts, although The Incubus is not often mentioned whenever his finer performances are discussed. That is not without reason however, as Cassavetes is held back at times by the material, but he is still able to deliver on most counts. He elevates the material at times even, giving the movie a far better performance than you might expect, as he seems to discard the flaws, in favor of playing up the more positive elements. Its an odd movie and Cassavetes has an odd part, but he doesn’t sleepwalk, unlike a lot of famous actors in low profile horror pictures. Other films with Cassavetes include The Dirty Dozen, The Killers, Rosemary’s Baby, Tempest, The Violent Four, and Two Minute Warning. The cast also includes Kerrie Keane (Distant Thunder, Steel), John Ireland (Satan’s Cheerleaders, The Mad Butcher), and Helen Hughes (Stephen King’s Storm of the Century, The Amityville Curse).

Video: How does it look?

The Incubus is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. I was braced for the worst here, as the case sports a disclaimer stating that some film grain was evident, but in the end, such a disclaimer wasn’t needed. I found the image to be more than acceptable and given the material involved, I’d even say it looks pretty good. The print has some grain and marks, but no more than most low budget horror films from this period, certainly nothing bad enough to have to slap a disclaimer on the case about. The colors look bright & bold, almost to the point of overly rich in some scenes, while black levels are solid, though not as refined as I would have liked. Yes, this presentation has some flaws, but for The Incubus, this is much better than expected.

Audio: How does it sound?

I wasn’t as impressed with the audio however, as the included mono option is rough, as time hasn’t been kind to the materials. I found the audio to be thin and uninvolving throughout, as if the production wasn’t too prepared in that respect, or else the materials have simply aged a lot over the years. In either case, the mix remains flat and flaccid, with no real power or presence, not even to the extent we expect from a mono soundtrack. I had to adjust the volume at times, as dialogue gets soft and hard to understand, though this doesn’t happen too often. This is not the worst audio track I’ve heard, but I do wish it had a little more presence.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.

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