Saturday, November 5, 2016

Season of Horror: Incubus (1966)

Incubus was directed by Leslie Stevens, the man who created The Outer Limits. Conrad Hall did some wonderful cinematography on that show and his work on this film is simply beautiful and awe inspiring. Dominic Frontiere also worked on TOL and provides the eerie music in this film. Unfortunately this film was lost for many years and the best available copy found was subtitled in French, and the English subtitles that are superimposed over them often obscure some of the lovely camera work. I recommend watching with the French subtitles if you can. I forgot to mention this movie was filmed in Esperanto, which really makes it a special film. It is available on DVD, with terrific special features which include an awesome interview conducted by David J. Schow with Anthony Taylor, Conrad Hall and William Fraker, as well as two commentary tracks, and some notes on The Curse of Incubus.

As the credits roll at the beginning of the film, we see some interesting medieval like plates of beasts, an angel, and a pentagram, accompanied by music that transports you to another plane of existence. The opening shots will take your breath away, as we learn from the narrator that the village of Nomen Tuum has a well with healing water that restores health and beauty and attracts vain and corrupt people as well as sick folks. It has also become a place for the Succubi to lure tainted souls to the God of Darkness.

We see one of these tainted souls dipping into the well and asking the pretty Succubus who strangely appears standing in the tree behind him if he has become beautiful and if she wants him. She asks how he knows she's clean and he asks her if she is and she says no, but he doesn't seem to care as he plucks her out of the tree and they frolic in the grass together. He seems to have been imbibing and falls and cuts his head. She tells him to wash it in the sea and promises to swim naked with him, which gets his injured self stumbling after her.

She lures him out to the ocean, staying just out of his reach, until she's got him in the water, and then she steps on his head and holds him under. We then see her building little sand castles on top of his partially buried body. The other Succubi are walking along the beach and she meets up with a sister and describes the corrupt soul, as well as the others she claimed that day.

We learn her name is Kia and in conversing with her sister Amael, she asks why the God of Darkness expects them to claim corrupt souls who are on their way to Hell anyway. She wants the challenge of claiming someone who is noble and free of corruption. Amael warns her that she doesn't know what goodness is and warns her to keep away since the good have the power of Love.

Kia goes off and swats the trees and grasses with a stick. She hikes to the cabins of the monks and finds one sucking an egg and holding a frog, which seems an odd thing to do. Another is burying something wrapped in cloth, while a third kneels in front of a crucifix and turns it around.

She decides to try her luck at a church and spies a man and woman walking away from it. She follows them, creeping through the grass,  as they go to the well so that the man can drink from it. He wonders if it has healing powers. He claims that he sleeps better while the woman he is with says his wounds are getting better and he is able to walk now. We find out his name is Marc and he fought in a war. They depart and Kia pursues them.

Amael catches up to her and warns her not to to try and take him because he is truly good. Kia says there are no heroes in Hell and warns Amael not to stop her.

Marc is out chopping wood when Kia shows up and chats him up. She claims she's lost and pretends to feel faint. He offers her some of his sister's bread and calls Arndis to bring food for their visitor. Arndis notices that it's getting dark like a storm, and Marc says it's an eclipse. He tells her not to look at it since it can burn her eyes. Kia asks if it's an omen, but he describes the science behind the phenomenon.

Marc gets close with Kia as the eclipse ends and he says they spent the night together and puts his lips on her forehead. She says she has to go and he invites her to stay. He asks her name and she tells him. He offers to walk with her until she finds the road. She asks about his sister and he says she is safe. Arndis has been looking at the eclipse, despite her brother's warning and becomes blinded. She calls out to him to help her but the only one who can hear her is Amael, who is watching and making sweeping hand gestures.


Blinded, Arndis goes wandering off, and Marc trails behind Kia just as the vain man at the beginning of the film did. They come to a river and he says he would carry her but he doubts he has the strength. She says it's shallow enough to wade and they can follow it to the sea. We get a brief glimpse of the man buried in the sand, becoming more exposed as the waves wash over the corpse and wash the sand away. She leads him into the water and he follows and falls in the water.

She continues to make him chase her, and when he catches up to her, he gives her a big kiss on the lips. He suggest they build a fire, but she says the sun will dry them. She wants him to take her to the dunes, but he asks her to come back to the village with him to stay in the cottage. She suggests they lie naked in the sun together. He tells her he wants them to be together as man and woman "the right way." We see that the corpse is now rolling in the waves, freed from his sandy grave.

Marc asks if anyone has ever told her what to do or said no to her. He says that he wants her, but there's more to it than lying naked in the sun. He tells her they must also give their souls to love. She says she doesn't have a soul. She tells him she aches like the tides, and he tells her to come with him and be one. He locks lips with her, pulling her down. We get another glimpse of the drowned man in the ocean.

Arndis is crawling around in the grass somewhere. Marc and Kia are also down in the grass and he tells her he loves her while she sleeps. He picks her up and carries her away. Amael follows them with a horrified look. Arndis has got her cheek on a branch and is crying. Amael creeps up behind her and tells her to stop them. She says she can't see and Amael tells her to follow the sound of the cathedral bell, that Marc is there.

Arndis walks along blindly as Marc carries Kia into the church. Amael tells her to call out to him and stop him. He lays Kia down in the church and as the bell tolls, she wakes and sees the figures in the church and starts freaking out.  She struggles with him to get away and scratches his face. She runs away sobbing and Amael catches up to her and asks what he did to her, saying that he defiled her with love. Amael tells her she must revenge the holy rape, but Kia says he's too strong for her. Amael directs her to unleash the Incubus. 

Marc is in the church when Arndis comes stumbling in looking for him. She tells him she's been blind and looking for him since the eclipse, but she is able to see him and the gashes in his face. He tells her he doesn't understand what happened, that he saw fear in Kia's eyes and that she screamed and fought him and then ran. Arndis asks if he loves her and he nods, to which she responds that he doesn't know her. He says he's known her all his life, that he recognized her as someone he has loved a thousand years. She says then they'll be together and they head home as it's getting dark and she can see without the sun.

Amael and Kia are out together in the night conducting a ritual. Amael calls upon the Lord of Night because one of his daughters has been ravaged by an act of love and wants revenge. We hear a beastie and see the shadow of it's wings flapping. The ground shakes and splits open and the Incubus emerges from the earth covered in mud. Kia asks him for vengeance and the Incubus responds with death, but Amael says not to kill him as he would die blessed. Kia says she wants his soul. The Incubus moves.

Arndis is in the house and tells Marc he should sleep. He asks if her eyes are better and she tells him she can see perfectly at night. He tells her he loves his little sister and she says she'll pray for him and Kia. They say good night and Marc gives up on pretending to read and tries to sleep. We see the drowned man as a voice calls for Marc. He gets up and asks Arndis if he hears someone calling, but she only hears a dog barking. He says he can't rest, and while she offers to go walk with him in the field, he tells her to stay there since she's half asleep.

Marc walks toward a house and we see a room with the Incubus swinging upside down. Marc enters through a window and when he sees Kia outside, climbs back out and follows her. Amael is telling the Incubus that Kia will lead Marc to the sea and that Marc's sister is alone and waiting for the Incubus. She suggests that he appear to her as a young man and bring her back to the Bridal Chamber.

The creepy Incubus approaches Arndis and tells her that her brother is in the old house and that he told him to come get her. He says that he was looking for someone, but the wood was rotten and he fell through the floor and got entangled. She says she'll get her clothes, but he tells her he wants to see her robe, and as he fingers it, he remarks that her nightgown is white, for purity. She falls under the spell of his hypnotic gaze and he beckons her to follow.

Marc is climbing the dunes while Amael waits at the old house as the Incubus approaches with Arndis. She screams as she enters the old house and sees many hooded figures and a lot of dry ice fog. The Incubus directs them to say the mass and they grab her and tear off her nightie. The Incubus stumbles in sweaty and truly beyond creepy looking with his tongue lolling, as the others hold her down for the ceremony.

Marc is climbing back down the dunes and Kia waits for him there. He crosses the field as she climbs down. We see the cabin where Arndis was taken full of light and fog. Marc is in the field and the participants of the black mass are carrying Arndis out of the house. She's not conscious. Marc approaches the house, but does not enter. He finds her robe outside of the house. Kia is following him and also approaches the house. She makes a gesture in what appears to be a Satanic blessing.

The Incubus et al approach the house and Amael notes that Marc is coming home and that they should keep Arndis from making a sound. The Incubus responds that she has no tongue. Marc calls for Arndis and the Incubus drags her body and throws her to the ground in front of him. Marc covers her with her robe. She tells him to save himself and she dies. He makes the sign of the cross over her and Amael, Kia and the Incubus recoil. The Incubus condemns her soul to Hell and Marc goes after him. They battle and the Incubus manages to get the upper hand. Amael goes to him and implores him to corrupt his soul with murder. Marc grabs the pointy stick from the Incubus, who doesn't resist when Marc thrusts it behind him into his gut. Amael tells Kia he's hers now since his soul is stained with blood. Kia goes to him and begs him to run away with her. As he goes with her, he describes the visions of Hell he is having.

She takes him to where the Incubus was summoned and he begins to hear the church bells ring and turns away from her. He says he wants to save his soul and she tells him his soul is hers, but he denies this, saying his soul belongs to God. She tells him she loves him and he asks her to help him. She collapses and he staggers off towards the church bells. She chases after him and Amael intercepts her, telling her to take him to the Inferno, but she throttles her and runs off.

Marc has reached the church. Amael struggles to get up and crawls toward the Incubus. She removes the stake Marc put in his gut, and he revives as Amael dies. Kia runs toward the church and hesitantly steps inside.

She whips around to see the Incubus behind her commanding her to stop. She says she loves Marc but he says she belongs to the Prince of Darkness. She makes the sign of the cross and he turns into a goat. She struggles with the freaky goat and Marc crawls toward her. She tells the goat she belongs to the God of Light and the goat backs off. She reaches toward Marc, who takes her bloody hand and drags her into the church. The Incubus goat stares in at them as they embrace.

to be continued...

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