In the village of Nomen Tuum there is a well that when one drinks from it can heal the sick and make a person beautiful. Many evil people have come to the well just for the cosmetic effects. With the corrupt people came demons to steal the souls of the evil and conceited ones. Succubi entice those whose souls have been tainted and after sending them to their deaths offer their souls to the God of Darkness. Kia (Allyson Ames) is a succubus who is tired of tempting just the evil ones. She wants to tempt someone with a pure soul and send them to hell. Her sister succubus, Amael (Eloise Hardt), tries to talk her out of it. She warns her that a pure soul brings love and love is dangerous.
Kia searches for a pure soul and eventually finds Marc (William Shatner). Marc is a former soldier who was wounded in the war and suffers from PTSD. The soothing waters of the well of Nomen Tuum have done much to heal him. Marc lives with his sister Arndis (Ann Atmar). Kia pretends to be lost and talks Marc into taking her home to the sea. Marc falls in love with Kia. Kia tries to seduce Marc but he will only consummate his love if they are married.
When Kia falls asleep Marc picks her up and takes her to the chapel. When Kia wakes up she sees the statues of the saints. Kia becomes horrorstricken and flees. Amael tells Kia that she has been defiled and ravaged by Marc with an act of love. Amael calls forth an incubus (Milos Milos) to seek revenge on Marc and his family.
“Incubus” AKA “Inkubo” was released in 1966 and was directed by Leslie Stevens. The film was produced by Anthony M. Taylor and was written by Leslie Stevens. It is an American horror film. Its main claim to fame is that it is the second film to be done in Esperanto.
The movie has a lot of things going against it. First, it’s an art film so there’s a lot of talk and not much in the way of special effects to enhance the “horror” part. There is lots of atmosphere and interesting cinematography but it is slow and a bit laborious.
Another problem was the Esperanto. The script was done in English and then translated into Esperanto. The actors studied for ten days learning the dialogue phonetically. Using Esperanto was supposed to make the film seem otherworldly, and it does. Unfortunately there was no Esperanto expert on set to tell them that their pronunciations were incorrect. When the film was shown at the San Francisco International Film Festival in 1966 a large group of up to 100 experts in Esperanto were eagerly awaiting to see it. The experts laughed uproariously.
While Taylor and Stevens were trying to find distribution for the film, Milos Milos, the actor who played the incubus, murdered his then girlfriend Carolyn Mitchell and then committed suicide. Carolyn Mitchell was also Barbara Thomason Rooney the then wife of Mickey Rooney. A couple weeks before the San Francisco Film Festival showing Ann Atmar, who played Arndis, committed suicide. Then two years after the premier Marina Habe, who was the daughter of Eloise Hardt and the actress who played Amael, was kidnapped and murdered. The case is still unsolved.
Except for a release in France the producer couldn’t find anyone to distribute the film so it was stored away. The film ended up in the black hole of obscurity. Then, at some point, the storage facility, CFI, mistakenly destroyed the negative and all the prints. The film was considered to be lost for years, until a copy was found in Paris in the permanent collection of the Cinémathèque Française. The copy was in bad shape and it had French subtitles. A new master had to be created using frame-by-frame optical printing. English subtitles were superimposed over the French ones. The Sci Fi Channel funded the restoration.
The English subtitles were based on the original English script and not on the spoken Esperanto being translated back to English. This caused some mistranslations between the English subtitles and the spoken Esperanto.
As a horror movie the film is not very good. Strange, yes, and if you don’t know Esperanto the film can be an unusual expressionistic experiment but the horror is more ethereal than visual. It is definitely artsy and a moody view of the struggle between good and evil. A sort of Bergman-esque low budget “B” movie. For those who like odd movies it may be something interesting to experience.
Shatner did “Incubus” just prior to doing “Star Trek”.