Mike’s Review: Incubus (1982)

Scary DVDs! Woo!

★★★ out of ★★★★★
Directed by John Hough

You know what’s cool about 1980s horror films? 

The main character can be a doctor, a morgue worker, a forensic pathologist, a detective, and a psychic — ALL AT ONCE!  You know what else is cool about 1980s horror films?  They feature badass soundtracks that seamlessly switch between melancholy orchestral pieces that get you in touch with your feelings, screechy violin sounds that have you straight up glued to the ceiling, and kickass hair metal — SOMETIMES IN THE SAME SCENE!

Oh…they can also feature people like John Cassavettes (Rosemary’s Baby) and Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) — IN THE SAME FILM!

If you haven’t guessed already, I’m talking about the 1982 film Incubus. A pretty sweet 1980s romp featuring some exceptional acting, a pile o’ gore, and semi-convoluted story that brings it around in the end.  “The dreams, the nightmares, the desires, the fears, the mystery, the revelation, the warning: the Incubus” is a U.S./Canadian concoction that involves a strange and dark figure(s) that are out to rape the women of a small New England town. Even though their license plates are from Wisconsin, and the film was actually shot in Toronto, let’s just pretend this takes place in New England. 

Sam Cordell (John Cassavettes) the coroner, morgue worker, forensic pathologist, detective, and New England busy-body has the unfortunate job of dealing with all of the grisly demonic rapes.  While the rest of the townsfolk are convinced that roving band of satanists have invaded their sleepy town, Sam and the drinky Sheriff are convinced that this is the work of one man — or creature? Sam becomes involved with the local newshound, while Sam’s daughter (Erin Noble) becomes involved with a young gentleman Tim (Duncan McIntosh) who just might be involved with the roving band of rape-y satanists. 

Between all of the love story subplots, there’s several scenes of nasty, oh so nasty, killing.  A shovel to the neck, a piece of glass to the gut, and a blown-up foot.  There’s also lots of discussion about the amount of semen left behind at the nasty killing sites. 

There’s even a vague allusion to the fact that the semen is red and doesn’t really seem to jibe with semen of this earth. And that’s kind of the achilles heel of Incubus, not the semen, but the fact that the film meanders in a lot of different directions — satanism, puritanical values of the local community, bureaucratic infighting, Salem-like witch trials, and a tried and true slasher film.

Best of all, Incubus contains the mother of all non-sequiturs, a kickass metal performance featuring Bruce Dickinson’s pre-Iron Maiden New Wave of British Heavy Metal band, Samson. Allegedly, Samson had shot a promo video sequence, but Dickson left the band for Iron Maiden before it was released.  The Incubus film makers got ahold of the sequence and figured it was good enough to ungracefully jam in the to film.  And jam they did.

However, between the clumsy 1980s acting, weird writing, and apparent lack of cohesive story, Incubus ends with one hell of a gut-punch. The kind of gut-punch that simply doesn’t exist in present day. The kind of ending that wasn’t subject to massive perseveration, hand-wringing, and focus-grouping, but just a big ol’ wallop to the bread basket.

Say what you will about Incubus, but no matter what you say, there’s no good way to really describe this film. And that’s what makes it a really fun ride. Sometimes incoherence really can be your friend, and sometimes that incoherence takes the form of an…INCUBUS! 

Incubus is Rated R, and is available for streaming on Amazon. 

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  1. Wow!! At last another horror fan like me who loved this movie. Someone please tell thosr critics who hate horror movies to stay home. I agree with you 100%. You got to be a hard core horror fan to enjoy this one. Slow? It was evenly paced to make the horror grab you. like the final scenes..

    • Hell yeah! Soooo little love for this weird little 80s gem. I was originally drawn to it because of the promise that Iron Maiden was going to be in the film. Sort of, but not quite. And…agreed, the pacing is super weird, but if you’re a true blue horror fan you look past all the weirdness. Do you know any others that you’d consider similar?

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