Thursday, March 23, 2017

Movie Review: The Incubus (1982)

This is a review I originally wrote for another review website but the website has since disappeared. It's a little longer and more detailed than my usual review being I was writing for screencap margins. I happened to be looking around in a file folder and found it. Figured I would post it here.

The Incubus (1982) - USA - Horror - R
Directed by John Hough
Starring John Cassavetes, John Ireland, Kerrie Keane, Erin Noble (as Erin Flannery), Helen Hughes, Duncan McIntosh, Harvey Atkin, Mitch Martin

On the tail end of the 70s supernatural/satanic horror boon and the apex of the slasher cycle, it would make sense that several movies came out which married those two premises. This is one of them and that's the most that can be said about it...except maybe that the marriage didn't work out.

Dr. Sam Cordell (John Cassavetes) has been in the small New England town of Galen for a year now. It's a quiet town, that is until a series of brutal rapes start happening. The first victim survives the rape, though hospitalized in critical condition due to the violence of the rape and the physical damage to her, and the shock of something she saw but is unable to tell. Her boyfriend and subsequent rape victims are not so lucky as someone or something is on a rampage leaving dead and mutilated bodies in the wake. The doctor, a journalist and a cop are on the trail of whomever or whatever is committing these atrocities, with mounting evidence of something strange afoot, including a young man, the boyfriend of Sam's daughter, who keeps having strange nightmares.

::spoiler alert::

It's an Incubus!

Oh, wait. Do you suppose the title gave that away?

Unfortunately the title of this movie is the only part which has such clarity. It moves along as though the viewer is familiar with the characters. An example would be the character of Lt. Drivas who appears in several scenes and obviously is someone in authority, but I actually had to look his character up on IMDB to find out he was a police lieutenant as he appears in several scenes, flaunts his authority, and yet leaves the audience wondering who was that unmasked man. 

The movie even takes additional liberties with leaving elements of the story hanging. In the case of one of the attacks, in this case with multiple victims, one has to assume all the victims were killed as it is unclear in the movie. Additionally there is a background story on John Cassavetes' doctor character alluded to in flashbacks and a short conversation and then just disappears.

The art direction in this is right out of a slasher movie, and I don't mean the good ones. Bodies are carried away on stretchers covered in white sheets which are covered in blood. Damn, the medical teams in this sure are sloppy. The same is the case for forensic evidence left behind at scenes presented for the sake of looking bloody for the camera despite how inconsistent it is with the scene that was just played out. How the hell did a bloody handprint get there?

The performance of Kerrie Keene in this is stiff. I don't know if it is her lack of experience, or nerves? Checking on IMDB this is listed as her first movie, though that doesn't necessarily mean it's her first acting experience. Maybe it was the direction they gave her for the way they wanted her to portray the character, but she seems to mostly have one style of expression which is somewhere between being pissed off and a deer in the headlights. Her eyes stare wide as her dialogue is delivered with baited breath, like an angry child talking under its breath to its mother. If it is the direction it would seem a poor choice when having someone work off of other seasoned actors like John Cassavetes and John Ireland.

As for the rest of the acting, though there is some overacting most of the performances in this are very good, better than one might expect. The dialogue is not consistently good, just mostly good. The acting and dialogue are much like the other parts of the movie I have mentioned, inconsistent.

The Incubus comes off like a puzzle you just put together, but a few pieces ended up missing. The puzzle is still complete enough to see what the end result is, and the movie successfully tells its story, but those missing pieces just glare at you, irritate you. The Incubus has several missing pieces that, though not necessary to complete the story, get in the way of the enjoyment of the movie as one sits wondering just who the hell that Drivas guy is and why did the doctor's past disappear, among other pieces.

For my personal taste, the story is too choppy and the presentation too inconsistent to enjoy, and it's not sooo bad as to be enjoyed for that. It just kind of falls in the middle in a place called Forgettable.

My Rating: 2 Fingers

This movie is available on DVD and Instant Video. The DVD is expensive but the Instant Video is very affordable.

Toxic Fletch

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