The Incubus (1982)
The dreams. The nightmares. The desires. The fears. The mystery. The revelation. The warning: He is the destroyer.
Year of Release: 1982
Running Time: 91 minutes (1:31)
Director: John Hough
John Cassavetes ... Dr. Sam Cordell
John Ireland ... Hank Walden
Kerrie Keane ... Laura Kincaid
Helen Hughes ... Agatha Galen
Erin Noble ... Jenny Cordell
Duncan McIntosh ... Tim Galen
Harvey Atkin ... Joe Prescott
Harry Ditson ... Lt. Drivas
Bruce Dickinson ... Samson lead singer
Dirk McLean ... The Incubus
The Incubus is the third in a series of reviews I've chosen to write as a tribute to Joe Bob Briggs for his lifetime of dedication to B, Drive-In and Exploitation movies. It was his Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In column and host segments on Joe Bob's Drive-In Theater and Monstervision that inspired me to write with what limited ability I have. Thanks for everything Joe Bob, we all 'preciate what you do.
Regarding the ordering of these 12 tribute reviews, I'll be counting down the first 12 horror movies that Joe Bob reviewed back in '82 and '83. Less the titles I've already done up to this point. By the time I decided to do this, I'd already done some of those first 12 titles, so call that a blunder on my part. The Incubus, technically speaking, was the 17th horror movie Joe Bob reviewed in his Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In column, and the 41st overall.
For anyone that might be curious, the non horror titles (or titles that I may have done previously) between The Incubus and my next review were: 1990: The Bronx Warriors (#40), Don't Go in the Woods (#39), Chained Heat (#38) and Hundra (#37).
The summer peacefulness of the New England community of Galen is suddenly shattered by a series of murders. Dr. Sam Cordell, a newly arrived surgeon and pathologist, tries to help veteran police chief Hank Walden investigate the baffling crimes. Jenny, Dr. Cordell's daughter, tells her father about the terrible recurring nightmares suffered by her boyfriend, Tim, which seem to coincide with the slayings. At the town museum, the scene of one of the murders, Dr. Cordell finds an ancient book that tells of the Incubus, a demon of many forms that ravishes women in their nightmares. In the film's shocking and terrifying climax, Dr. Cordell monitors Tim's nightmare, taking him through to the awful realization of what the Incubus is and who it is in human form!
Incubus, the movie that finally explains why women always go to the bathroom in herds. See, this is why more people need to watch these movies, there's timeless wisdom and explanations to questions you may have previously considered unknowable. They're just afraid the Creature from the Black Lagoon's gonna drag 'em out from under the stall while they're makin' a poop an rape 'em. All us guys could never figure out why they always go to the can in packs, but now it makes perfect sense. More sense than the reasons we were speculatin' on up until now at least, though our reasons were a lot spicier. Speakin' of women, the National Organization of Women loves this one. They actually show it to the new recruits the same way the military shows those VD movies to try an scare guys outta sex, only difference is Incubus kinda works a little. Scares women away from men entirely; after all, we're all monsters on some level. It also goes a long way towards scorin' some much needed foxy poon for the hairy ladies in management. You can hardly blame 'em there, I mean, would you wanna cozy up to a woman with more pit hair than you have? Well, they don't either, sides, it kinda makes the sexual orientation transition a little smoother when their first experience is with a woman that's more masculine than most men. Not that I'm afraid of 'em mind you, I only refuse to fight back while they're poundin' the tar outta me cause my parents raised me to respect women even when they're noogie'n your bald spot as they hold you in a headlock. I could've gotten outta that anytime I wanted to, I just didn't wanna embarrass that woman in front of her girlfriend. Anyway, we're gettin' a little off subject here. I just wanted to express my feelins about how some people tend to take the wrong message away from this movie an use it to further their own policktical agendas. Gettin' back on topic though, Incubus has to be the second greatest movie revolvin' around demon rape that also features the creepy perma-smirk of that smarmy John Cassavetes. An it's only the second best cause they were too scared to show the monster for more'n about 12 seconds outta fear that somebody'd notice it was just a guy with a green latex glove stretched over his entire body. Besides, Rosemary's Baby was too uppity to show any titties or viscera, so give it a chance. The first thing Incubus has to teach, an this is pretty important, is that a doctor can pretty much take you prisoner an grill you like a Gitmo detainee an the cops won't do nothin' about it. This'll prolly only get worse with the implementation of Obamacare, so be on the lookout.
Second, doctors're basically walkin' pharmacies an tend to carry around any drug somebody might need. You've gotta admire their spirit of preparedness, I mean, if John Cassavetes hadn't specifically been worried about an Incubus comin' to life an rapin' that nerdy guy's librarian wife, where would he have gotten sleeping pills at that time of night? These doctors're always thinkin', I'm not sure that I trust 'em. Lastly, an this is really more of an advice piece for any Incubi that might be readin'; if you guys're gonna behave all ill mannered like the way the one in the movie does, it'd be in your best interests to start carryin' around condoms in your wallets. That freaky red sperm stands out like a blonde at a Cradle of Filth concert, an the cops're gonna be at your place within hours of your misdeed bustin' down the door with one of those big marital aids, an before you even know what's goin' on you've been compacted into the back seat of the squad car an had The Club attached to your zipper. That or you could just get an inflatable woman like the rest of us an quit Sanduskyin' everybody in sight, I mean, do your Mamas know you're doin' this? But the thing that bugs me the most about this movie is the unabashed gender discrimination goin' on. Seriously, if this movie were about a Succubus nobody would even care. The video tape'd be located in the adult section instead of with the horror flicks. The Succubus is hot, right? "Bring that pointy tail this way, sugar tits" echos throughout the room anytime it's a female demon. After all, females can't possibly be sexual predators, or dangerous. I tell ya what, anybody that thinks that obviously hasn't been to the Wang Chung bar an grill at last call. We're talkin' compound fracture of the penis in the bathroom stall with women that won't even call for an ambulance until they're finished, an even then they generally won't do that until they've gone through about a pack an a half of Camel 99s. I don't think I even need to mention the difference when this kinda thing happens in a school. When a man does it it's psychological devastation, when a woman does it it's Friday. An you'd think that in a day an age where 50 Shades of Grey is so popular people'd cut the Incubus a little slack. For fuck's sake, if the popularity of that particular book is any indication you've gotta believe Satan can't dispatch Incubi quick enough to keep up with the rape demand. The poor Incubi get rushed through sexual assault trainin' school without gettin' proper instruction an once the Incubus finishes the job the woman gets the drop on 'im an locks 'im up in a cage where he's forced to perform nightly encores until he eventually gives up on life an hangs 'imself with his own tail. I guess what' I'm tryin' to say is that women are disgustin'.
The movie begins with a couple kids out at a lake sexually harassin' each other while some peepin' Tom watches from a dilapidated shack. Later that evening, a sweaty wimp's dreamin' about a buncha monks in a torture chamber terrorizin' some woman with pointy sticks an threatenin' to replay the audio tape of that day's sermon if she won't do what they want. About that time the sweaty kid wakes up an ends up gettin' interrogated by his Nana til he tells her he's havin' recurrin' nightmares about hooded figures tryin' to extract confessions from some Muslim Extremist at Guantanamo til Nana rolls 'er eyes an tells the sissy to get back in bed an to quit questionin' the patriotism of our great nation. While that's goin' on, the teenage yuppies in heat at the lake're sittin' around their EPA approved campfire an when the guy goes to turn on some music the girl runs an hides in the old weather beaten shed. Unfortunately, she gets her face mashed into the wall from the blind side an when the guy hears 'er screamin' like a termite with too much wood in its mouth, he comes to check on 'er. But as he peeks his face inside the doorway he gets Sammy Sosa'd with a 2x4 that's got a couple nails pounded through one side an before too long the guy ends up lookin' like Pinhead when he takes his nails out before bed. Elsewhere, John Cassavetes (Sam) rolls up to his residence an goes inside just in time to catch his daughter gettin' outta the shower an neither he nor his daughter (Jenny) seem the least bit horrified by this so I'm not sure if the writers're goin' somewhere with this or if they're just freaks that don't realize this is not a normal situation. The next mornin', Sam an Jenny interrogate each other about where the other was last night like a suspicious couple til Sam just comes right out an tells 'er he don't like her boyfriend, or the idea that she's old enough to have a boyfriend, an that he doesn't like anybody in this backwards hick town cause they all think it's weird that his dialog's written like Jenny's his wife instead of his daughter. Then he makes 'er read the newspaper to 'im til the phone rings an Sam has to head for the hospital so he can take a look at the mangled girl they just wheeled in an he tells Jenny not to leave the house or blink, or even fart until he gets back. When Sam gets to the hospital the cop waitin' for 'im (Hank) tells 'im he ain't seen nothin' like this since he was messin' around in the police evidence locker an found that tape of a woman gettin' real friendly with Secretariat. Seems the girl they brought in was ram-rodded so severely that 'er uterus busted an started leakin'... well I dunno, important uteran type stuff out all over the place. Meanwhile, Jenny disobeys Sam almost immediately an goes to see her boyfriend (Tim), who just happens to be the sweaty sissy that's havin' the nightmares about the guys dressed up like Buddhist monks.
She tells 'im about the guy that got Ken Griffey'd with the board of education the night before an about the girl in the hospital cause they're his friends an she's one of those girls that gets off on guys bein' miserable. Nana disapproves from a distance. Back at the hospital, the local journalist (Laura) shows up an Sam tells 'er about how the girl got shishka-banged so hard that he had to take out all her baby makin' parts, but that there wasn't any sperm found. Then Sam goes down to the coroner's office where the corpse handler tells 'im the guy that got nailed worse than Jesus had his spine crushed by what'd have to be a huge hand an that they aughta round up Shaquille O'Neal an check out his alibi. Meanwhile, at the local museum, the curator closes up shop an starts makin' her rounds to make sure nobody's moved the mannequins into un-Christianlike sexual positions when books start fallin' off the shelves. But when she heads over to put 'em back where they belong she ends up gettin' knocked down an pretty quick all the shelves start dominoin' like in GoldenEye an before she knows it she's gettin' drug across the floor gettin' the worst case of rugburn she's ever had. At least until the dragging stops, at which point it gets considerably worse. Shortly thereafter, Hank, Sam an Laura show up at the museum an Sam tells the paramedic he wants an autopsy. Then he remembers that he's the doctor an after walkin' Laura out heads for the hospital to carve up the curator to determine cause of death. He's thinkin' either brutal rape or that the woman popped out an It's Alive baby that didn't like the climate outside the womb an tunneled its way back in. So after Sam gets back to the hospital an calls Jenny to tell 'er he's gonna have to stay late an root around inside another body he does just that an finds more of the same, only this time he's got about a gallon of sperm. Look, that's what happens when guys go too long without sex, alright? I don't see why a big deal has to be made of it. So Sam thinks she must've either been tryin' to break Jasmin St. Claire's gangbang record in the middle of the civil war display, or that maybe she was one of the girls from Saddam Hussein's pleasure palace. An to think, after we helped that man in his conflict with Iran, he pinky swore that he'd start actin' civilized this time, the bastard. But anyway, Sam starts checkin' out the manchowder under a microscope an gets this look on his face like he just noticed his underwear's on backwards. Later that evening, Jenny comes to Sam's bedroom to tell 'im she loves 'im an that she'll never leave 'im an... alright, who wrote this screenplay anyway? George Franklin, is that a pseudonym for Roman Polanski per chance? Nah I guess it wouldn't be, Jenny's at least a teenager. Seriously though, stoppit.
Eventually Sam gets to sleep, but before too long Jenny wakes 'im up to tell 'im that Mandy (the surviving rape victim) finally quit milkin' her trauma an woke up. So Sam heads back to see if she can tell 'im anything an keeps callin' 'er "tough guy" anytime it looks like she's about to crack but all he can get outta her is that dead, vacant stare you see on all the models in Robin Thicke music videos. Incidentally, if Robin Thicke has a big dick as the text in said video indicates, how come all the women look like they're just waitin' around for the shoot to end so they can go home an finish the job? Forget it, we're gettin' off tangent here, I don't imagine it's too important. So anyway, Hank shows up an he an Sam start talkin' about the weird cherry yogurt they got outta the museum curator, cause sperm ain't generally red an about that time some guy whose role is never clearly defined says he's bringin' in some outside experts since Hank doesn't know shin from shinola. The next day, Sam sees Laura's most recent article about the murders an since Sam still can't seem to figure out he's not on the police force he heads over to her office to talk to her about the situation. Once there, he invites her out an they go to a bar where he tells 'er he's infatuated with 'er an that she reminds 'im of somebody. So then they go back to Sam's house an he shows 'er pictures of his dead wife which prompts an impromptu make out session where Sam almost gets the goods til Laura realizes what a fucked up situation she's in an rebags the groceries. Yeesh, John Cassavetes always has this weird half smile on his face like he's had a reverse stroke or somethin', what a creep. Elsewhere, Tim's tryin' to convince Nana that anytime he has these nightmares girls end up gettin' King Kong donged an starts thinkin' maybe he's the one killin' 'em, or that maybe he killed 'im in another life where he was a Hindu an believed in reincarnation. Meanwhile, out in the boonies, a girl in a wheelchair notices the family dog yappin' like it's got a postal carrier cornered out in the shed, but when her Dad goes to check on it he finds the dog pitchforked an pretty quick he gets a shovel right in the jugular an accidentally blows his own foot off with his pump action 12 guage, an then, just to spike the ball, the whateveritis drags 'im up into the hay loft an pitches 'im through the wall. Then the point of view jerk heads into the house an goes for the blonde girl takin' a shower, which may seem contrary to logic but the girl in the wheelchair's a redhead so things could get dangerous. So the point of view whatzit busts out the shower door an starts havin' its way with 'er til the redhead hears 'er screamin' an rolls up to the door to see if the blonde got the showerhead stuck again an then it has to bust the door down an mash the redhead's face cause it can't get an erection if someone's listenin'.
Later on, the outside "help" arrives, so Sam an Hank run down the plot up to this point an tell 'im about the red super sperm an that Sam thinks it's just one guy who must have testicles the size of bowlin' balls. Meanwhile, Tim's havin' day terrors again an eventually runs into Jenny an tells 'er he's got Excedrin Headache #5 an that every time he tries to catch a nap people start gettin' pole vaulted an then he runs off an tells 'er to leave 'im alone like he didn't just run over to her house in the first place. Elsewhere, the lead singer of Iron Maiden's doin' a show over at the community theater when a blonde girl in the audience gets up an leaves in disgust at the notion that Bruce Dickinson could even begin to fill Paul Di'Anno's shoes an goes to show the crapper exactly what she thinks of this new guy. Unfortunately, the point of view creeper starts peekin' over the top of 'er stall an drags 'er out under the door an well, lets just put it this way, he does to her hoo-ha what the band Incubus's been doin' to our ears for years. So Jenny calls Sam up an tells 'im Tim's gone completely meshuggeneh so he an Laura come pick up Jenny an go lookin' for Tim. Shouldn't be too hard to find, he'll be the crazy lookin' guy out in front of the K-Mart with a sign readin' "Boycott Lunesta" and "Nancy was Right." Elsewhere, Nana's down in the basement thumbin' through the grand grimoire lookin' for some reason why Tim's constantly watchin' reruns of I Dream of Meanie when she comes across the word "Incubus," at which point she gets this look on 'er face like she just realized she's been dressed like a nun the whole movie. Then Tim comes home an starts tellin' Nana more about how if he doesn't get a triple espresso like five minutes ago he's gonna clock out an another girl's gonna end up with a massive twat trauma.
But before Tim can get chug a six pack of 5-hour energys, Sam, Laura an Jenny show up an Sam demands a jizz sample. Who's this guy think he is anyway? Tim aughta tell 'im to check his daughter's... anyway, they drag Tim down to the hospital an force 'im to squirt into a cup to see if he's got the terror tadpoles. He doesn't, but Sam still thinks he's involved an since nobody's doin' anything to stop 'im he starts interrogatin' Tim again til he starts twistin' around like a spasmatic conger eel an makin' noises like he's tryin' to hold back explosive diarrhea. That night, Sam, Laura, Hank, an Jenny take Tim home so they can keep an eye on 'im, only Nana's finally taken some initiative an realized that Sam just can't deputize 'imself an starts readin' 'im the riot act. Unfortunately, nobody seems to care, so Nana decides it's about time to tell everyone that her family has a proud witch huntin' heritage an that Tim's mother was a witch that squeezed 'im out just as they were about to light the charcoal briquettes under 'er toes. Thinkin' this might be of some significance, Laura starts thumbin' through Nana's big book of black magic an starts readin' up on the Incubus. The shape shiftin' Incubus. I can't believe people're jumpin' to this as the most likely solution, they didn't even question Mike Tyson or Victor Salva for fucks sake. But anyway, Hank at least is havin' trouble followin' this voodoo joo-joo an heads for his police cruiser so he can drive over to the church an beg Jesus for forgiveness. Sam ends up followin' 'im out an figures since he's gotten away with tellin' everybody else what to do for the entire movie he may as well tell Hank that he's gonna force Tim to watch reruns of Three's Company til he goes to sleep an when that happens Hank's prolly gonna wanna get the SWAT team or the A-Team or somebody to patrol the streets cause somebody's liable to get unlawfully penetrated. Like the rest of us, Hank kinda sits there for a minute waitin' to hear why Sam thinks this could possibly be a good idea, even if he doesn't buy into it, but no sound reasoning ever comes forth, an Sam heads back inside to bore Tim into submission.
Alrighty, well, this one's pretty formulaic and predictable with the exception of the twist ending. The twist ending isn't too bad, though it's one of those really abrupt endings that triggers only a few seconds after the twist is revealed, and here, they manage to do it without actually resolving the problem. I certainly wouldn't say that it drags either, it's one of those movies where there's always something relevant goin' on, but during the portions where John Cassavetes is playin' detective it's a bit dry. But I've gotta say that the screenplay for this movie is really screwed up, both in terms of the way Cassavetes is always runnin' around playin' deputy Marshall, and even more inappropriate than that, the interaction between him and Erin Noble who's supposed to be playing his daughter. Their dialog is practically written as though they're infatuated teenage love birds, which is bad enough without the scene where John comes home and Noble's showerin' with the door open. I suppose that situation probably arises sometimes but neither seem to be the least bit affected by it. How anybody could have gone over this script and not spotted the problems with their dialog is astounding to me. I considered the possibility that it may be deliberately creepy because they were setting up Cassavetes to be the Incubus, but that's no good because it doesn't explain why Noble acts equally incestuous in return. While still uncomfortable to watch, it'd at least be significantly less so if there was some reason for it later on, but there isn't. It genuinely seems as though it was intentional, yet without purpose, or that nobody seems to realize how this comes off to the viewer. Surely the director, producer, SOMEBODY had to be watching these dailies and notice this. Maybe it's just me, I dunno. It's really weird though, and it never materializes as the red herring you were expecting it to. Fortunately it seems to stop about the time Kerrie Keane's character is introduced an John becomes infatuated with her, but it's a little after the fact by then. Maybe that's why it never seems to drag, even the scenes that'd normally be considered slow hold your attention because you're tryin' to figure out where the hell they could possibly be going with this strange behavior. As you can imagine, the writer didn't exactly hit it big after this, and I suppose it's difficult to gauge how intentional any of that creepiness was, but there's certainly no overlooking it with a modern perspective. But I suppose it's just one piece of the puzzle, an the movie does have other redeeming qualities.
Okay then... well this is the part of the review where I'd normally make a joke about some horrible mangling that occurred in the movie but since this one's mostly about a green rape monster havin' his way with cute girls, that might be in poor taste. I mean, poverty stricken taste, most everything I say is in poor taste, I suppose. The plot is okay, you don't really get any background on the Incubus, or for that matter much background on any of the characters, though they compensate by alternating investigation sequences and rape sequences. On that note, only half of the rape scenes are on screen, and even then only from the neck up, so at least there's that. I've always found using rape as a tool to vilify a character to be rather cheap and particularly lazy. That said, it's basically the crux of the story, and an element that's in no way gratuitous if you're familiar with the concept of an Incubus. Think of it as a horror movie, as told by the Lifetime network. It works, I suppose; though plots like this are never going to get a movie onto my fave five. The acting is alright, Duncan McIntosh is a little weak as the wimp with the hairy scary nightmares, although his character is supposed to be a weenie so it's not as bad as it might be were that not the case. John Cassavetes is a little harder to assess because the writing is so wonky that it's hard to tell if he's just bein' a creep cause he feels like it or if his character's supposed to be a creep, without anybody making it clear that he actually is a creep. That make any sense? It really doesn't, does it? Well it's hard to explain. From what I can see of the dialog between he an Erin Noble, I don't think it's just him, so I guess you'd have to say he's doing what he's being asked to do rather effectively. I've gotta say though, none of these characters are particularly interesting or engaging.
Here's who matters and why: John Cassavetes (The Fury, Rosemary's Baby), John Ireland (Waxwork II, The Graveyard Story, Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat, Terror Night, Miami Golem, The Shape of Things to Come, Satan's Cheerleaders, The House of Seven Corpses, I Saw What You Did, Day of the Nightmare), Kerrie Keane (Alien Nation: The Enemy Within & Millennium, Bates Motel, Spasms), Helen Hughes (The Amityville Curse, Blue Monkey, Visiting Hours), Erin Noble (Uninvited 1993), Duncan McIntosh (Deadline, Murder by Phone), Harvey Atkin (Visiting Hours, Heavy Metal, Funeral Home), Matt Birman (Survival of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, Land of the Dead, Urban Legend), Beverly Cooper (Zombie Dearest), Neil Dainard (American Nightmare), Jennifer Leak (Eye of the Cat), Denise Furgusson (Killer Party, Spasms, Skullduggery), Jack Van Evera (Deadly Eyes, My Bloody Valentine, Funeral Home, Plague 1979, Black Christmas), Helene Udy (Witches of the Caribbean, Pin, The Dead Zone, My Bloody Valentine), Jefferson Mappin (Anonymous Rex, Possessed 2000, Murder by Phone), Alan Bridle (Trilogy of Terror II, Starship Invasions), Jude Beny (The Woods). Normal people may be interested to know that Harvey Atkin was the voice of King Koopa on The Super Mario Bros. Super Show and the various Captain N follow ups. Additionally, Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden makes an appearance as the lead singer of the band Samson, which he was a part of during the shooting of the movie just before he took over that role as part of Iron Maiden.
The special effects aren't too bad, but there aren't all that many either. As I mentioned before, the crux of the plot revolves around monster rape, and while you can show that in graphic detail if you choose, you'll end up with an X rating from the MPAA. Conversely, the producers thought it wise to keep that kind of thing to a minimum, which by and large makes the movie much easier to stomach, but leaves it lookin' like Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard in the gore department. The stand out scene would have to be where the ruralite goes out to see what the dog's yowlin' at an takes a shovel in the throat right before blowin' his foot off with a scattergun. That was pretty amusing while also simultaneously disgusting. Though they held the camera far too long on the dog that was supposed to be pitchforked in the scene right before it. Long enough to see that the dog is breathing comfortably. But I guess you can't win 'em all, at least not without a big budget. Other than those two, you've got a little blood here and there, generally nothing worth mentioning, although the gushing blood during the final sequence looks fairly authentic. The creature suit would probably look a lot worse if they focused on it for a longer period of time, though with the pitiful amount of screen time it gets I don't think it looks all that bad in the brief flashes that're shown. So the special effects aren't too bad, a couple above average effects and little else. The shooting locations are pretty decent, there's a lake surrounded by cliffs on all sides, a farmhouse, a creepy museum, a theater, and a few other less interesting locations like the hospital and the residences of various characters. Although the majority of the movie takes place in the less interesting locations from that list. The soundtrack, unfortunately, just doesn't seem to help generate much atmosphere. One track in particular struck me as an unflattering spin of the main theme from Halloween. I suppose the one saving grace is that you don't really need the soundtrack to enhance the scene when what's happening is already horrible. I suppose you could say that the otherwise successful composer (Stanley Myers) just isn't as good with horror movies, as the only others on his resume are The Devil's Widow (which is older than Incubus by a decade) and The Zero Boys which is more of a hybrid of the horror/action genres. Or, maybe it's just me, but it didn't seem all that effective. Overall, Incubus kinda fails to build an identity for itself and doesn't feature much that sets it apart from anything else in the genre, short of excessive rape. And I'm not entirely sure that's something you want to be known for anyway. If that sort of thing doesn't bother you, by all means give it a shot, just be sure that's enough, cause there isn't much else.