A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 152 – Incubus

Incubus July 30th, 2010

First of all, I would like to thank my friend J for this movie. She showed a good portion of it to me when I went to visit her at one point and I was totally fascinated, so when she offered to buy it for us for the project I said yes. How could I say no to a black and white 1966 movie starring William Shatner, with the dialogue entirely in Esperanto? I couldn’t. And so this weekend, while J is visiting, we are watching it. I figure that’s only fair.

In a remote seaside village, the Succubi lure men to them and claim them for the devil. But they’re only supposed to take men with corrupt souls. Kia, one of the Succubi, is weary of only harvesting the corrupt and wants to use her powers to get a pure soul. Enter William Shatner as Marc. He’s an injured soldier recuperating near the village, there with his sister. He is, as one might expect, a pure soul. So of course Kia wants him. Her fellow Succubus warns her off, but Kia goes after him anyhow.

All sorts of things happen while Kia is trying to seduce Marc, like an eclipse which ends up blinding Marc’s sister, and Kia and Marc traipsing through a stream together. Unfortunately for Kia, Marc’s so pure, he ends up seducing her instead of the other way around. She goes all faint and he carries her to the local church. Oh no! Bad idea! Kia and her fellow Succubus decide that Marc has defiled Kia with love and goodness and vow revenge, summoning the titular Incubus.

There’s some seduction and ravishing and a black mass and Shatner gets to fight the Incubus, which isn’t as exciting as one might think. And then there’s a fight between Kia and the Incubus, sort of, only he’s in llama-goat form.

To be quite honest, this isn’t a bad movie. I’ve seen bad movies. I’ve seen really bad movies. I’ve seen Lost Boys 2: The Tribe. This is not bad. You just need to go into it with certain expectations. This isn’t Psycho or Rosemary’s Baby – both relatively contemporary with this movie. You have to expect an art film. You have to expect some somewhat stilted acting. You have to accept that given that none of the actors were fluent in the language they were speaking, some line deliveries might be awkward. But if you go in with all of that, it’s really fairly enjoyable.

The story seems to be missing some bits, but I’m willing to let that go as the original print of the film was lost and the restoration required borrowing a print from a French theater. It’s somewhat understandable that some bits might have gotten lost. But what’s there is a story about love and redemption and sin and revenge. It’s a story about souls and heaven and hell. It’s not super deep, but it doesn’t have to be. Everything is laid out simply. The Succubi claim men with tainted souls. Marc doesn’t have a tainted soul. Kia wants him, so she’s got to taint him somehow. That’s not complicated. But it doesn’t really matter. It’s interesting and it’s different, and I really don’t think we own anything else like it, so I’m glad we’ve got it and I’m glad we watched it.

July 30, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , | Leave a comment

Incubus

July 30, 2010

Incubus

Tonight our friend J is visiting from afar and at her behest we are viewing this very high-concept and strange film. I must say that I’m enjoying it so far. Steeped as I am in the deep lore of MST3K I find it easier than some people might to see the good in a movie. I had been told that this film was a cheap and cheesy film worthy of derision, but it doesn’t strike me that way. It was billed as a cheapo sixties horror film in the mode of Carnival of Souls or Night of the Living Dead, but I actually found it to be more. Not to deride those early horror classics and their unsettling spirit, but this movie has more to it than just an attempt at horror.

For me this movie feels like a sort of fairy tale. It’s a little like a mirror-world version of the Little Mermaid. Kia is a succubus who haunts an enchanted well that is rumoured to have healing effects and also to provide youth and beauty. According to the opening narration these effects draw impure and vane sinners to the well. Kia and her sisters then harvest these sinners for the Dark Lord, leading them to their deaths during a final act of impurity and taking their souls down to hell. But Kia is dissatisfied with her lot in life. She’s tired of all these dirty, soiled souls and wants to find a truly good and decent man to corrupt. Her sister warns her not to try – succubi have no right to deal with untainted men.

Kia ignores her sister’s advice and sets out into the world to find a good man to corrupt. Re-inforcing the fairy tale feel of the film she first comes upon three corrupt priests (one an egg-sucker, one who is burying something, and one who is guilty about something and turns a cross so that God can’t see him.) After all of them she comes upon a kind soldier and his sister. The soldier, Marc, is played by a very young William Shatner who seems to be doing somewhat of a James Dean impression. From there you can pretty much see where things are going to go. Marc “corrupts” Kia by falling in love with her and bringing her to a church, and her sisters swear revenge. Which revenge involves raising a greasy gigolo from the underworld to seduce and destroy Marc’s sister.

I enjoy the twist on the traditional cheapo sixties horror film plot. Rather than the inevitable corruption of an individual over the course of the film which is played out as a sort of Greek tragedy we have the inevitable salvation of a soulless demon, played out in much the same way. It tickled me.

By far the strangest thing about the movie, and the thing it is most famous for, is that the entire production is done in the invented language of Esperanto. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this, or even why such a thing would be done, but in the end it added for me to the enchantment of the whole film. I enjoy watching foreign films – they have an otherworldly quality by their very nature. And this film, in a language that has no native speakers anywhere in the world, is foreign to everybody. I enjoy the notion that no matter what country or in what company you watch this film virtually everybody will have the same bewildering experience. It kind of reminds me of Jim Henson’s original concept for the Dark Crystal – which he intended to be entirely in a made up language with sub-titles.

I think I would actually recommend this movie. It’s competently made, well enough acted and I like the concept. It is by no means a bad movie, and kind of nifty in many ways. Maybe it’s not really a great argument that this movie is “not as bad as I had been led to believe it would be.” It’s not essential viewing that everyone must see, but if you find you have the chance, and have an open mind, you could do much worse.

July 30, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment