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  Incubus Who's The Beast?
Year: 1981
Director: John Hough
Stars: John Cassavetes, John Ireland, Kerrie Keane, Helen Hughes, Erin Noble, Duncan McIntosh, Harvey Atkin, Harry Ditson, Mitch Martin, Matt Birman, Beverly Cooper, Brian Young, Barbara Franklin, Wes Lee, Neil Dainard, Jennifer Leak, Denise Fergusson
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Mandy (Mitch Martin) is out at the lake with her boyfriend, and teasing him by not kissing him, so he retaliates by playing a prank on her, jumping into the water from a great height and staying under until she grows concerned. He then grabs her ankle and she screams, realising what he's up to and they both end up getting wet, but Mandy will have something to scream about for real come the nighttime. Across the way, in the nearby smalltown of Galen, Tim (Duncan McIntosh) is suffering from his nightmares - could he be unleashing something from his dreams?

Not to be confused with that other horror movie called Incubus - that was the all-Esperanto chiller starring William Shatner - this was the one based on the bestselling horror novel by Ray Russell, an expert in short stories who had a few scripts to his name as well. He didn't adapt his own book here, however, as if he did he might have retained the far more extreme nature of the text, so here there was a far more toned down version of what had been on the page. The rape attacks were there, but not explicit as all we saw were hapless actresses yelling and being thrown and dragged around the set.

But by what? Well, the title's the giveaway, but while we're all too aware that there's a supernatural presence causing these attacks, having heard tales such as this in the movies, the television, and the paperback horrors before, the characters take a longer time to come around to the idea, and we have to wait with them. Being a Canadian shocker, there was that unmistakable chill to the proceedings that country's horror films usually had, once again making for a film it was hard to warm to, pun intended, and containing a peculiarly awkward tone. Not helping was the fact that the star, John Cassavetes, was practically begging the producers "Just pay me" in every scene.

He had his own indie dramas to fund, after all, and he's an actor who once you are aware a lot of the jobs in front of the camera were ones he took to provide a budget for his directorial works, you can see that apparent in his noncommitted performances. Here he adopts a world-weary frown, which may not have taken much effort, granted, and essays the the role of the doctor investigating the spate of brutal rapes and murders occurring around the town, assisted by the police chief Walden (John Ireland), when the results of these assaults are so over the top that he begins to consider a less earthly cause for them. All the while he must worry for the safety of his teenage daughter (Erin Noble) who you can correctly surmise will be placed in peril at some point.

But before that things get repetitive, with one attack following another and broken up with Cassavetes delivering some truly deadly dialogue as he mopes about after the victims. Among such details as the red-coloured sperm found inside one, and Tim being the product of some unholy ritual, or so he thinks - hey, wait a minute, that's Bruce Dickinson! What's he doing here? Yes, Mr Iron Maiden himself shows up at a concert of his previous band Samson, complete with laser light show, to offer a musical diversion before we get back to those actresses getting flung about, which gives Incubus a place in history, but only a very small one. It all builds up to a revelation of what's really going on, and naturally the doctor and his cohorts, including local newspaperwoman Kerrie Keane, have it wrong although if you could predict what the big twist was then give yourself a credit because it really does arrive out of the blue. As if unaware of how bad taste it really is, this could have been worse, but is more dour than lurid. Music by Stanley Myers.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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John Hough  (1941 - )

British director who began work as a director for 60s TV show The Avengers. Directed a wide variety of mostly genre movies over the last 30 years, the most notable being Hammer's Twins of Evil, The Legend of Hell House, Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, Brass Target, Incubus and Biggles. Also turned in Disney pictures Escape to Witch Mountain and The Watcher in the Woods, plus straight-to-video turkey Howling IV.

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