John Cassavetes does all he can to charm this film into mediocrity and cover for a ridiculous-looking monster and confused storytelling.
Young women are attacked in a small town, and a doctor tries to get to the bottom of the crimes before his daughter becomes a victim, too. Let’s dig into 1981’s INCUBUS, directed by John Hough!
As I See It
From my headline, it may sound like I hated this film. But I can’t fully hate it, and that is based solely on how much I liked John Cassavetes in this film. It made me want to go back and watch all the films in which he starred and then maybe watch the ones he directed, too.
Centered around a small-town doctor dealing with r*pes that don’t look like r*pes, we jump around characters so often it’s frustrating.
The typical red herring plot element lasts the entire film and then declares the title of the film a true misnomer, as we’re treated to a succubus rather than an incubus — and I don’t think that was done for anything more than needing a twist ending. Maybe the novel played out with more effect, but it was impotent on screen.
Luckily for us, we aren’t tortured with the terrible excuse for a monster for more than a few seconds of screen time.
Unfortunately for us, though, there is a “metal band” (Samson) during the recital scene. It features Bruce Dickinson just seconds before he joined Iron Maiden and went on to superstardom for denouncing marijuana, selling seventy-five dollar t-shirts that grown men would argue about like they were measuring dicks by the age and wear of “official tour” status of said merchandise, and writing pretentious metal operas that were two to three times longer than anyone cared to listen for.
John Cassavetes (Sam) became a legend as a filmmaker, ignoring boundaries as a director.
For the sake of this section, though, I’ll focus on the films that he performed in front of the camera, and they are some heavy-hitting projects: Brian De Palma’s psychic thriller The Fury, the Ernest Hemingway story The Killers directed by the legendary Don Siegel, Robert Aldrich’s The Dirty Dozen, and the early eighties adaptation of Shakespeare’s Tempest directed by Paul Mazursky.
Harvey Atkin (Joe) played the goofball Morty in the summer camp comedy Meatballs.
Of Gratuitous Nature
Every shower scene since Psycho is going to be gratuitous, but the first of two scenes in this film is really unnecessary as Sam (Cassavetes) sees his late teen daughter getting out of the shower nude. Really not sure what the point of that was besides setting some awkward, incestual sexual tension that wasn’t really present the rest of the film or just for the filmmakers to see Erin Noble (Jenny) naked.
All of the talk about dry intercourse and ruptured uteruses, plus the massive amounts of sperm, will seem a little overindulgent as well.
I’ve seen Cassavetes in plenty of films, but it wasn’t until watching this film that he surpassed his son Nick’s badassery and rough good looks as a straight-up screen stealer for me. (I also never noticed how much Anthony Bourdain resembled Cassavetes.) The guy has charisma in droves, and something about him is both comforting and dangerous. No wonder he had such a robust and rebellious reputation within Hollywood.
Ripe for a Remake
I’m a strong opponent of winging it, and that’s what it feels like was done here when it comes to the mythology. With such a rich and multicultural history, you would think they would have dived a bit deeper into the lore.
Starting off with long-standing boogeymen or women is always a good jump-off point, and all it takes is someone with imagination to put something on paper and subsequently on screen that feels exciting — or, at the very least, fun.
No progeny to report.
Where to Watch
Vinegar Syndrome put out a Blu-Ray adding “The…” to the title. You can stream it on Tubi, Pluto TV, and Plex.