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Look on in amazement at the horror of...

No, no, wait! At the...

Lost for over 30 years...William Shatner stars as Marc, a soldier of pure heart who has just returned home injured from the war. He becomes the target of Kia, a beautiful female demon, who has become bored with taking the lives of corrupt men. Kia sets out to seduce Marc, but ends up falling in love, angering her sister demon and forcing her to summon the incubus to wreak revenge. Incubus is the only film shot entirely in the artificial language of Esperanto.

I have trouble knowing where to begin explaining this movie. Perhaps explaining isn't quite the right word - perhaps 'discussing' is more apt. One of the reviews I've seen about this movie is that it 'defies description' which is really on the mark. Have you ever tried to pick up a piece of jell-o? Like, the whole piece? ok well how about a lemon seed that flew into your vodka while you were angrily squeezing the little citrus? Unless you've got water-sucking leathery old pads to rival those of Mr. Eastwood, you'll have a hard time of it. This movie is like that. The Quote above is from the back of the dvd box and touches on several of the core issues that I find really irresistible about this movie. Foremost is, of course, Shatner. Keep in mind that this movie is from 1965 which was before star trek. As we were watching this, we were forced to play this scene out:

gene: "THAT MAN! I want THAT MAN to star in my new series!"

lackey: "But sir, listen to the way he speaks...."

gene: "non-sense boy! That's just because of the Esperanto!
I'm sure he'll sound perfectly normal reading the dialog I'll churn out."

And 'lo, was Captain Kirk wrought upon this earth. Now before I continue and give anyone a false impression, I am, and have always been, one of Shatner's biggest fans. I don't care how many enemies this makes me, or what professional associations it bars me from, but I like Shatner and I like star trek and I like the character of Captain Kirk. That was my dad's nickname at work (for whom the Preserve is officially named) for years so clearly I have an association with the Shatner mythos that extends beyond the normal tribble loving fan. But let us not forget, Incubus was before all that! Let's look at some of the sordid history of this film.

If memory serves me, the print of Incubus from which this dvd is forged was discovered in a seedy basement level movie house in Paris where it was showing once a week as the midnight feature, along side such 'greats' as the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I can only imagine that the person who discovered this movie must have been as excited about it as I am, because they somehow got the sci-fi channel to foot the bill for this re-release (always the mark of quality, let me assure you). We speculated that one of the producers, most likely Elaine Michea, is in fact Shatner using a rather daring nom de plume. I mean, how better to spend his ca$h than to fund the restoration of what he may hold to be his crowning achievement. I hesitate to even believe that this film was found in France at all; it's far more likely that Shatner found it in his sock drawer on laundry day when, being out of socks, he had to wear the gladiatorial tights from Bread and Circuses and found the aging print buried underneath. Furthering my distrust of the story of the origins of this movie is it's sudden explosion on the retail scene. Electronics Boutique had at least 2 copies of it when I got it there last week, since they whipped a shrink wrapped one out from under the counter when I brought them the box, and the shady overpriced record store in the mall had *4 copies* gracing the shelves. My full story goes something like: Shatner raked it in by reenacting his 'Transformed Man' tunes for who subsequently went out of business. Realizing then that he'd spent one too many mornings waking up in his palatial apartment in dignified anonymity, he had to break back onto the scene, and what better way than by 'discovering' his old masterpiece which had luckily turned up in his delicates. Getting sci-fi to foot the bill under his assumed name, he would then proceed to drive from store to store, wearing a big baggy overcoat and, like Jolly ol' St. Nick, would stock the shelves with his triumph. This is the only way, and in light of how strange everything about the movie is, does this explanation really seem that outlandish? Really the only solid evidence I have that this may well have been playing in France in some seedy theatre is this:

Look carefully....see anything familiar? That to me looks like the rock formerly known as Prince. Prince probably wandered (stumbled, staggered...) into this cinema about a decade ago and slumped into a rear corner seat in his purple leisure suit, only to rediscover his entire career and identity through the magic of Incubus!

Which, fittingly, brings us to the Curse. There is a curse of Incubus, wherein almost everyone involved with the film suffered some personal tragedy, loss, or grisly end. Check out some of the details:

Read that second one carefully - I don't want anyone to misunderstand exactly how bizarre everything about this movie is. That's right - Milos Milos, the ripped greek guy who plays the actual Incubus, was getting his Succubi on with the estranged wife of Mickey Rooney whom he then did in, along with himself! There's nothing I can add to that. Nothing at all. You'll notice that there's no mention of Shatner in there, but I like to think that the ads and Tekwar speak for themselves and for the playing out of the curse without having to think all that hard. After Captain Kirk got sucked into the nexus/lexus and there were no more men on the wing at 20,000 feet, well, it was back to Mr. Tambourine Man.

Ok, in the midst of writing this article I've just taken a few extra minutes to listen to the William Shatner Audio commentary track and have reached the decision that it is pure gold. Here is an excerpt:
Everybody had to speak Esperanto, so when they said "Put the light up there" - El Eluca paca damo! (as Shatner busts out into Esperanto) everybody had trouble. Um..(pause) the ah (pause), there was one stage hand that didn't have trouble, but that stage hand spoke in clicks, like, uh, um...(pause) the er, ah some...ah (pause) African Tribe (blurted out with shatner emphasis) speaking (proceeds to make clicking noises) and the !click !squitch he was able to get the Esperanto out, flawlessly, but he was of little use except for some bushman tribe in the sh....the ah, (pause) desert of Africa.
When I heard this I was incapacitated on my couch for a few minutes, not aided by the fact that Shatner *keeps talking* and what he says next is almost as amazing, and then I rushed to get a pad and pen to capture this before the disc evaporated or slipped into the dimension from whence it must have come.

Just in an effort to drive home the point that this film is in Esperanto here are some stills of the opening credits, complete with abstract evil-ish art and nonsense titles like "Stelumantaj" and "produktisto":

There's a Succubi somewhere in the tall grass. You get a lollipop if you find her. (ok, it's not that hard, but it's a fun scene to watch as she commando-crawls up to shatner.)

Now I'm going to avoid doing the standard thing of summarizing the movie. As I've already said, this is a rather difficult task for several reasons. First off, the movie is such a surreal experience that any explanation I could attempt would fall so far short of actually conveying the experience of seeing it that it would be a waste. Secondly, this is actually a good movie. Clearly I bought this entirely on the basis of the Shatner and the Esperanto, and everything else has been gooey butter-cream icing, but when you actually get right down to brass tacks, this is a well shot, well acted movie with a solid plot and a meaningful message. It isn't Driving Miss Daisy, but neither was End of Days, which I liked a great deal and which a lot of the people in the theatre when I saw it with hausmaus and surpriseattackninja years ago seemed to be confused about. I think that a lot of the snobbery of movies stems from the fact that there aren't too many films that *are* Driving Miss Daisy. In fact, so far as I know, there's just the one...and probably a few lesser known releases starring Ron Jeremy (a legend in our own time). As such, I think that people have to be ready to accept that while they may not be watching Driving Miss Daisy, the movie can still be well done and enjoyable. I also should temper this by adding that I enjoyed Omega Doom, which puts me in the same numerically small percentile of the population as the people who've survived games of lawn darts, but I maintain that Incubus is not the terrible movie it would at first appear to be. I once gave away the ending of End of Days to a very dear friend of mine, and in the midst of his convulsions and throes of lament that I'd spoiled the film for him, I realized that I had just robbed him of the joy of seeing this movie that I liked so much. I realized that the more I like a movie, the less I really ought to talk about it, but rather I should try to get people to see it for themselves. So what it boils down to is that I don't think I should write a review of this movie. I think that you should see it yourself. Buddha knows that Shatner is busily stocking the shelves at your local record store so I'm sure you'll have no trouble finding it, and what else are you going to use that $20 for? Come on, don't lie....I know you were going to go see tomb Raider and buy the big tub of popcorn and just widen your a$$ and rot your brain. See, instead of doing that, buy Incubus. Watch it with friends. It's good for you.

Just when we thought that this dvd couldn't get any better...having already proclaimed it the most sound use of $20 that I'd ever found, short of that bottle of Sherry in Jerez last summer...when my jaw was agape with wonder as I listened to a few minutes of the Shatner audio commentary...we found this in the scene index:

We are free! We are free of the Curse of Incubus! And I thought that benediction I received at the church of St. Francis of Assisi during the holy year of Jubilee was a license to drive, but this....I felt pure of heart and Just and Good, just like our friend Marco (polo) and knew, I just knew, that no estranged wife of Mickey Rooney or black lip-smacking goat or 6' Swedish blonde would stand in my way! (well, maybe the blonde). And now, gentle reader, having finished this article, you too are of The Curse, of INCUBUS!
charlie, 6/27/2001
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