Blu-Ray Review – Incubus

Incubus is one of those barking mad early ’80s supernatural slasher films that often had some great actor slumming it. In this case it’s none other than the godfather of indie film John Cassavetes! He actually worked with the film’s director John Hough on Brass Target, which also starred Sophia Loren. Cassavetes even when he was being directed by others would often improve his own dialogue, Loren was somebody who stuck to the script and never deviated and the two actors clashed. Although when they reteamed to do Incubus he allowed Cassavetes full reign and allegedly he rewrote 80% of his dialogue.

The film is basically about some entity which is raping and killing a string of young women in this little New England town. Cassavetes plays the doctor Sam Cordell who very soon becomes suspicious that something isn’t right and realises a maniac is on the loose. He has to team up with the local police sheriff and local newspaper columnists to figure it out before it’s too late.

Cassavetes’ performance certainly elevated it and he seems to be enjoying the project even if as always with his actor for hire work; it was simply so he could get money to fund his own projects. He also utters the word “sperm” an unhealthy amount of times. John Ireland also does his best as the local sheriff. The film inherently has a personality crisis it can’t figure if it wants to be a slasher film or more of an occult thriller (witchcraft comes into play) and does get bogged down with too many subplots which don’t really go anywhere.

Technically the film is better than your usual early ’80s horror film with an impressive tracking shot and cinematography by Albert J. Dunk who also shot Class of 1984 and worked as a camera operator on Black Christmas.  One of the most baffling parts of the film is the recurring footage of  New wave of British heavy metal band Samson which is randomly projected into a scene in a movie theatre. The footage is from a short film called Biceps of Steel. Samson was Bruce Dickinson’s band before he replaced the original lead singer of Iron Maiden. 

The disc includes interviews with director John Hough, lead actress Kerrie Keane and cinematographer Albert J. Dunk. The release is finished by a commentary track with The Hysteria Continues and the usual trailer, tv spots and finally some alternative shots and trims. The transfer is painstakingly restored by 35mm negative and for one reel a 35mm print in 4K.

★★★½

Ian Schultz

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