Before I popped Incubus in my VCR, I popped on my Coat of Many Questions.
- There are plenty of great languages to choose from, including English, French, and Klingon; why in the frig was Incubus filmed in Esperanto?
- Incubus is billed as a "long lost cult classic." It was missing in action for about 30 years, but a print was found and restored and should it have remained long lost and is it really a cult classic?
- William Shatner?
- Unlike English, French, or Klingon, Esperanto is an artificial/invented language. Incubus is largely an allegorical tale, and Esperanto (supposedly) helps create an "otherworldly" feel.
- I don't think it's a cult classic–it's more of a footnote "Oh yeah, that Esperanto movie." It doesn't really get the affection afforded cult classics, does it? I don't think the Cool Kids have paid it much mind, with or without irony. I'll say it, though: I'm glad it's long lost no longer.
- Well. *shrug*
She sets her sights on Marc (Shatner), a pure-of-heart war vet who lives with his sister on a small farm near a healing spring. Kia arranges a meet cute, pretending to be lost, and before five minutes pass she and Marc are making out and Marc declares his love for her. Kia proposes they get naked together ASAP, but Marc insists on marriage first.
And so the battle of the wills commences. Good and evil duke it out, but who will prevail? Will Kia successfully corrupt Marc with evil, or will he corrupt her with love? Along the way to the answer, we're treated to a solar eclipse, the birth of an incubus, some good old fashioned virgin defilement, a star turn by one of Black Phillip's ancestors, and liberal use of a fog machine.
As I said, Incubus is meant to be an allegory, a myth, a fairy tale; characters are archetypes who talk about Big Ideas. Unfortunately, in terms of the script this simply means that characters will repeatedly talk about good and evil and good vs evil and souls and love and evil and good and souls and I'm sure you get it. The seriously honeybaked ham-fisted dialogue that's made all the worse by the Esperanto, which feels as stilted and unnatural as you might imagine, and clunky conversations are rendered...super clunky.
So why I am glad Incubus was saved from history's slush pile of the lost and the damned? Because thanks to the work of Oscar-winning cinematographer Conrad Hall (In Cold Blood, Marathon Man), this film is frequently stunning to behold and nearly achieves the arthouse vibe sought by writer/director Leslie Stevens.
It's a real beaut, and I daresay that if the script and acting had been a smidge better ("Oh, is that all?" - you)–or maybe if Esperanto had truly taken the world by storm–Incubus might truly be a cult classic, lauded alongside films like Carnival of Souls.
What can I say, Incubus has plenty of shortcomings, but sometimes Satanism wrapped in a pretty package is all it takes for me to be well satisfied. This film led me to my doom quite easily, thank you!