INCUBUS (1981) Reviews and overview


‘He is the destroyer’

Incubus – promoted as The Incubus – is a 1981 Canadian horror feature film directed by John Hough (American GothicThe Legend of Hell HouseTwins of Evil), from a screenplay written by Sandor Stern [as George Franklin] (Pin; The Amityville Horror), based on the novel by Ray Russell (X; The Premature Burial; Mr. Sardonicus). The movie stars John Cassavetes, Kerrie Keane and John Ireland.

The film’s score was composed by Stanley Myers (PaperhouseSchizo; House of Mortal Sin). Maureen Sweeney created the special makeup effects and The Incubus.


In the small North American community of Galen, a physician (Cassavetes) suddenly comes face to face with a series of grotesque carnal assaults in which the women have all died from massive trauma sustained during the violent attacks.

A young man (McIntosh) has dreams about the attacks and fears that he may be unwittingly responsible for the deaths. But the horrible truth is that an incubus, a lustful demon that preys on women, is now stalking the town…

Vinegar Syndrome released Incubus as a Blu-ray + DVD combo on October 30, 2018, restored in 4K from its 35mm negative and a 35mm print.

Special features:

  • Audio commentary by The Hysteria Continues
  • Interview with director John Hough
  • Interview with actress Kerrie Keane
  • Interview with cinematographer Albert J. Dunk
  • Trims and alternate shots
  • Theatrical trailer
  • TV spots


“… comparatively low on graphic bloodshed but makes up for it with dashes of the supernatural, some marvelous small-town atmospherics, a few good jolts, and a flood of tasteless dialogue that’ll make you choke on your popcorn.” Mondo Digital

“An occult spin on the slasher film cycle, The Incubus never quite pushes its repugnant concept to effective cathartic horror or cheap cheeseball thrills. Mostly, between fitfully impressive brutality, it’s just downbeat and deadening, albeit original.” Mike “McBeardo” McFadden, Heavy Metal Movies

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“John Hough is on sometimes imaginative form – like the scene where a librarian is attacked and notably one scene with a woman being dragged under a bathroom cubicle door by an unseen assailant. Overall though, the pace is too sedate…” Moria

“Though Hough’s direction is quite energetic in a mechanical fashion and Cassavetes provides hard-working performance, the film is ultimately constricted by its formula-bound script.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror

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“The film never really decided whether it wanted to be a satanic movie or a slasher movie or mystery, and none of the many subplots, including one about Cassavetes accidentally killing his first wife, go anywhere.” Darrell Moore, The Best, Worst and Most Unusual: Horror Films

“… a good example of a film that is probably far more offensive and disturbing now than it was at the time it was released. Sure, you’ve got your sex and violence – that’s par for the course. The Incubus puts things into overdrive by upping the ante…” Screen Damage

“The set pieces are decently bloody and the pacing is good so at least The Incubus isn’t a bore. It also features a surprisingly strong final scene/twist. The blackout angle and half-assed supernatural elements don’t really gel though and the acting, aside from Cassavetes oddly compelling performance, is risible. This was one of the great man’s last acting jobs…” Rock! Shock! Pop!

incubus cassavettes

John Cassavetes tries to look more intense than Fuseli’s Nightmare horse

The Incubus is one hell of a sick little flick. Comic relief is pretty much nil, and the deadpan performances seem to always be effectively on target. They keep bringing us down, and there is nothing to bring us back up again (not that this is necessarily a bad thing mind you). Filled with disturbing and frank dialogue, at the time, I can see how upsetting this film could have been.” Monsters at Play

” …despite scary interludes and even a little attempt at artistry – particularly in the film’s book-end close-ups of an eyeball – The Incubus is more dull than exciting for long stretches, and the central mystery manages to generate almost no interest whatsoever, unless complicated, twisted lines of genealogy are a personal hobby.” John Kenneth Muir, Horror Films of the 1980s | |

“Not an outstanding terrorizer, but it has enough oddball characters and screams to sustain attention.” John Stanley, Creature Features

” …chickens out on the central image of Russell’s novel – the huge size of the incubus’ phallus – and it’s a castration that reaches out into the whole film.” Time Out

“The climax of the film features a downbeat, perverse and reasonably effective twist, but up until that point the picture is a tough slog; alternately unpleasant and silly, with frequently inane dialogue on the subject of weird sperm.” Caelum Vatnsdal, They Came from Within: A History of Canadian Horror Cinema

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Main cast and characters:

  • John Cassavetes as Sam Cordell – The Fury; Rosemary’s Baby
  • Kerrie Keane as Laura Kincaid – Ghost Whisperer; The Nightmare Room
  • John Ireland as Hank Walden – Satan’s Cheerleaders; Welcome to Arrow Beach; The House of Seven Corpses
  • Erin Noble as Jenny Cordell
  • Helen Hughes as Agatha Galen – The Amityville Curse; Blue MonkeyVisiting Hours; Evil Stalks This House
  • Duncan McIntosh as Tim Galen
  • Harvey Atkin as Joe Prescott
  • Harry Ditson as Lieutenant Drivas
  • Mitch Martin as Mandy Pullman
  • Matt Birman as Roy Seeley
  • Beverly Cooper as Pru Keaton
  • Brian Young as Charlie Prescott
  • Barbara Franklin as Mrs. Pullman
  • Wes Lee as Mr. Pullman
  • Neil Dainard as Ernie Barnes
  • Jennifer Leak as Deena Ferrin
  • Denise Fergusson as Carolyn Davies
  • Jack Van Evera as Matt Davies
  • Helene Udy as Sally Harper
  • Lisa Bunting as Anita Barnes
  • Michelle Davros as Jane Barnes
  • Jefferson Mappin as Clem
  • James Bearden as Lacey
  • Alan Bridle as Interrogator
  • Jude Beny as Witch
  • Jeremy Hole a Torturer
  • Brian Montague as Swimmer
  • Dirk McLean as The Incubus

Filming locations:

Homewood Sanitarium, Guelph and Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Initially released in France on 24 February 1982.

Fun Facts:

Incubus features the metal band Samson, in the form of clips from director Julian Temple’s short British film Biceps of Steel (1980). Bruce Dickinson (above), later lead singer for Iron Maiden, is featured in several shots.

Image credits: Too Much Horror Fiction





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