Sunday, November 20, 2016

#2,255. The Incubus (1982)

Directed By: John Hough

Starring: John Cassavetes, John Ireland, Kerrie Keane

Tag line: "The ultimate power of evil"

Trivia: Script consultant Jeremy Hole cameos in the film as a torturer

The dictionary defines an Incubus as “a demon or evil spirit… fabled to have sexual intercourse with women during their sleep”. That’s a pretty frightening entity, and director John Hough’s 1982 film The Incubus is every bit as horrifying as the creature it’s named after.

The normally peaceful town of Galen is rocked by a terrible crime: while relaxing on the beach one evening, a young girl named Mandy (Mitch Martin) is savagely raped, and her boyfriend Roy (Matt Birman), is murdered while attempting to rescue her. Dr. Samuel Cordell (John Cassavetes), who recently moved to the area with his teenage daughter Jenny (Erin Noble), manages to save Mandy’s life, and, along with Sheriff Walden (John Ireland), tries to piece together a profile of the rapist / killer, in the hopes of finding him before he strikes again.

Unfortunately, neither the Doctor nor Sheriff Walden can prevent further attacks, and over the course of several days a number of women end up in the morgue. Newspaper reporter Laura Kincaid (Kerrie Keane), also a new arrival, does some research and discovers that similar attacks occurred in Galen decades earlier, and were never solved. This revelation causes Dr. Cordell to do a little digging of his own, and he comes to the conclusion that his daughter’s boyfriend, Tim Galen (Duncan McIntosh), who is being tormented by the same recurring nightmare, is somehow connected to these crimes. Tim’s grandmother Agatha (Helen Hughes), a descendant of the town’s founders, refuses to allow her grandson to be questioned like a common criminal, but are her actions motivated by family pride, or does she know more about this situation than she’s letting on?

From start to finish, The Incubus is a deadly serious horror film; a dark, brooding motion picture with some very startling scenes. The opening few minutes, with Mandy and Roy on the beach, kick things off in disturbing fashion, yet even this sequence pales in comparison to an attack that occurs inside a museum, where the curator (played by Denise Fergusson) is brutalized by an unseen monster. And even though it isn’t much of a mystery (we're learn who is responsible for the murders early on), the film still manages to surprise us on a number of occasions (especially in its final moments).

The Incubus is not perfect; John Cassavetes, who was so effective in Rosemary’s Baby, delivers a lackluster performance as Dr. Cordell (there are times when he seems bored with the role), and a subplot involving the good doctor’s previous marriage to a younger woman (who resembled Laura Kincaid) is more confusing than anything. As for the Incubus itself, we don't see it until late in the movie, and, to put it mildly, its look is something of a disappointment. But thanks to a series of powerful scenes, as well as a story that grows more intense by the minute, The Incubus is a horror movie that fans of the genre won’t want to miss.

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