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"Incubus" ("Inkubo," 1966) Religious, Good-versus-Evil Horror Film Spoken Entirely in Esperanto - Directed by Leslie Stevens and Starring William Shatner


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"Incubus" (1966) is a strange, bizarre film that is reserved for the hardest of religious-horror fans. Amazingly, the film was deemed "lost" for a long time (well over twenty years, I believe) and it wasn't recovered until a copy was found in Paris in 1996. That one, lone copy is the reason it's possible to watch the film today, tomorrow, and beyond. Here is a list of lost films - tragic, but true.

It was directed by Leslie Stevens, creator of "The Outer Limits," and stars - believe it or not - William Shatner. "Incubus" was released one year after Stevens finished with "The Outer Limits," and one year before Shatner began with "Star Trek." In a certain fashion, it can be looked upon as "the end" of Stevens' prime, and "the beginning" of Shatner's prime.

Okay, let's cut straight to the bizarre part: "Incubus" is only the second film ever to be done entirely in Esperanto. Yes, you heard that correctly - it was done in order to give the film a science-fiction air, and it works - however, unless you've specifically studied Esperanto, it may as well be in Swedish. If you've studied the common European languages, you'll pick out words here and there, but you'll be nearly 100% reliant on the subtitles. Stevens forbade the film from being dubbed, but the subtitles are absolutely necessary, and this must be considered a "foreign-language movie." So, keep that in mind before you begin watching it.

Some terms you'll need to be familiar with:

"Nomen Tuum" - Latin for "thy name," and the village in which the film takes place. It occurs in the Latin version of the Lord's Prayer.
"Succubus" - a demon in female form, and a seducer of men - often leading imperfect male souls to their deaths via sexual activity.
"Incubus" - the male counterpart of the Succubus (and, of course, the name of the film). Succubi and Incubi are the plurals.

Hey! So one of the Succubi kills "a widower addicted to grief" - why does *that* make someone's soul tainted? Jeez! That's pretty harsh! It seems the Succubi's idea of a "tainted soul" is pretty much anyone who isn't perfect (an ugly child dying of hatred, a man with a disease) - these are pretty tough standards they have!) The Succubi apparently "work for" the Incubus (who is, I suppose, the equivalent of Satan) - maybe he collects "tainted souls" the way people capture Pokémon: "Catch 'em all!" he might instruct them.

Boy, I'll tell you what - the first fifteen minutes of this film have *very much* of a Bergman-esque, "Seventh Seal" feeling to it - there's no way that Stevens didn't watch "The Seventh Seal" before filming this, not that that's a bad thing, mind you - just an observation.

Thirty minutes into this 1:18-long movie, I like it more than I thought I would - I was prepared for sheer drudgery, but it's "staying within itself" - it's a bit weird, yes, but it's not throwing so much at the viewer that it's hard to follow; in fact, it's quite simple to follow - you just have to know those few oddball things I mentioned up above, and then it's very watchable. But, they still have an hour and fifteen minutes to screw things up, and I never completely trust anything starring William Shatner (except, of course, well, you know). :)

For a "horror film," it's also not the least bit scary, and I mean, *not at all*. Yet.

This is the first-and-only time I've ever seen William Shatner turn down a chance to get laid by a hot-looking woman, which places the film very solidly in the "Fantasy" genre.

I read where people who speak Esperanto well, gripe about the quality of the dialog, and even I, as a complete novice, can hear some problems. For example, Marc (Shatner) says good night to his sister Arndis (Ann Atmar) - "good night" should be the same, and not have a gender, yet Marc clearly says "Bone Note" (silent "e's" in both words), and Arndis responds, "Bonna Nota."  I don't think this would be correct in a language such as Esperanto, unless there's something about it that I'm missing, such as whether or not gender applies to who is speaking (which I've never before heard of in a Latinate language). If you're watching in the included YouTube video, this is at the 49:05 point, and it's pretty unmistakable.

You know, about the best way I can describe this very good, but not great, film is, "Ingrid Bergman meets The Outer Limits."

"Incubus" is worth seeing, and you can see it for free, right here:

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