Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Incubus (1966)


Written & Directed by Leslie Stevens

Marc...William Shatner
Kia...Allyson Ames
Amael...Eloise Hardt
Arndis...Ann Atmar

In a small island village, the evil and corrupt are preyed upon by Succubi, who seduce and destroy them for their sins. One rebellious Succubus, though, by the name of Kia, is tired of bad men. She wants to feed on a saintly man to prove her worth to her dark master.

The opportunity presents itself when she meets Marc, a wounded soldier with a heart of gold. Although he immediately falls for the beautiful Kia, he doesn't succumb to sinful temptation, making her job that much more difficult. In order to achieve her goal, she has to bring out the big guns.


This is, above all else, a curious film. Although an American production, it's filmed entirely in Esperanto, a constructed Universal Language that never really caught on. This, when paired with the subtle artistic details of the film, give it an exotic quality as if we were watching an Ingmar Bergman picture. It could very well be the only film that's foreign to ALL audiences (except the few Americans who actually speak Esperanto, I suppose. Worldwide the number is estimated to be between ten thousand and two million, which really translates to NOBODY KNOWS).

Casting William Shatner in the lead could easily be viewed as stunt casting to the modern audience, but it's important to remember this was released just before Star Trek launched him into stardom. He was just another TV actor at the time.

I only have two complaints, the first of which is that the subtitles appear to have been done with a label maker and sometimes obscure what's happening onscreen. My second complaint may make me sound like a pervert, but fuck it: the sexuality should have been amped up quite a bit. I'm not saying nipples are a necessity--at best, they're a luxury that we've come to take for granted--but Succubi are sexual demons by definition, and it should have been played up a bit more to fit their nature.

Regardless: Strange and oftentimes beautiful, Incubus is a must-see for all fans of obscure cinema. I enjoyed it a hundred times more than I expected, and I'm glad I picked it up from the bargain bin. I suggest you do the same if you're lucky enough to stumble upon it.  It would make an excellent double feature with the original Carnival of Souls.

78 Minutes
Black & White
Esperanto (English Subtitles)
United States



  1. This is indeed a strange and beautiful film, but you're wrong to refer to Esperanto as "a constructed Universal Language that never really caught on". I hope you'll allow me to add that Esperanto is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. That's quite an achievement for what started as the idea of just one man. It has survived wars and strikes and economic crises, and continues to attract young learners.

  2. Sounds very interesting, wasnt aware that there was such a thing as Esperanto, I'll need to read up on that, the film itself sounds interesting as well, thanks for reviewing it.


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