The Incubus (1982)

the incubus

The Incubus (1982) Directed by John Hough

One of the most outlandish horror films of the 80’s. And that statement should be taken lightly because the eighties are already replete with weird idiosyncrasies, so in a way, it feels rather fitting that this determinedly bizarre 1982 film directed by John Hough was made during these genuine times of wide-ranging exploration in modern horror.

While I enthusiastically appreciate the edgy, swirling narrative form, I must admit that ostensibly a vast amount of its lingering flaws emerge from that jumpy, intricate juxtaposition of circumstances in the same temporality but fractured linearity precluding the stylized cinematic language from rhythmically matching it; thus, leaving irremediable plot holes. Incubus is more enjoyable for its enigma than for its logic, at least that’s what I could get from its hyperactive transmission and cohesion of extremely recognizable stylistic orientations, complexly structured like the Gialli but sordidly materialized like a nightmarish Slasher, both facets dominated by the tendency of satanic narratives.

In rural Wisconsin, a series of strange rapes against young women occur, Dr. Sam Cordell played with dramatic subtlety but with explicit interest and inquisitive eye by John Cassavetes, investigates from his faculties as a physician these horrendous crimes that seem to carry a similar pattern in their sexual procedures. The great John Ireland accompanies Cassavetes as the town sheriff, and the two are joined by the intrusive reporter fascinated by covering these inexplicable crimes, Laura, played by Kerrie Keane. Satanism, neurosis, panic and psychosexual atmosphere is what these characters encounter in this horny supernatural maze.

Relentlessly persuasive in style, and to the benefit of their constructive irrationality, the characters also share a commonality with the puzzlement of the storytelling; cerebrally everything seems to be unfolding on a subconscious level, and we imbibe the situational weirdness as a method of deep understanding to the circumstances, which generate their afflictions, psychic discomforts or suffering. Over-directed by Hough with fun but farcical low camera angles, Incubus remains a beguiling quirk no matter how many flaws intrude on its unique filmmaking, or how abrupt its conclusion, when its qualities and flaws converge without discriminating against each other, it works superlatively well. As a bonus, a pre-Iron Maiden Bruce Dickinson with his glorious operatic voice appears to musically ornament one of the finest sequences in the film.


Matteo Bedon
About Author

When I'm not watching and studying films, I'm writing about them.
Part-time essayist and full-time film critic.