Incubus (1965)

Incubus (1965), written and directed by Leslie Stevens.

A beautiful young devil worshiper wants to test her seductive powers on a saint. She picks a virtuous soldier but he responds with love which is too strong for her. She invokes a demon for assistance, but wavers in her resolve and we have a battle for two souls.

It's a fable of good and evil set in no particular place or time, beautifully filmed with very little construction or props at Big Sur. All the dialogue is in Esperanto, which adds an exotic other-worldly slant.

Leslie Stevens used his The Outer Limits (1963) crew and it looks like an extended episode as if filmed by Ingmar Bergman. I think some of the musical cues are borrowed from the series.

This is well worth seeking out if you like the idea of a low budget experimental fable, although I like the setup more than the second half. Satanists are often portrayed as misfits and outsiders, but here they have a parallel loveless society of their own and are cautious when dealing with the godly. William Shatner later became a big name; I think he's fine.

To get permission to shoot at a mission church, Stevens produced a fake full-length alternative script: "Religious Legends of Old Monterey". The wikipedia has details on the history of the film, including its "curse". It was lost for over 30 years until a well-worn print was found in Paris. The restoration is rather good considering the source.

A note on the subtitles: the disc contains English and French versions, but these are burned into the image, not selectable. The sole surviving print had fixed French subtitles and there is no way to remove them; the English version just overlays that area with black stripes and text. This is unfortunate as the lettering is rather high up on the image and distracting.

The IMDB has the OAR at 1.85:1. The DVD is 1.33.

We have two commentary tracks, the first with a historian and crew, including cinematographer Conrad L. Hall who did many fine films later. They are all fond of the movie, although hint that the second half goes on a bit long (and the whole thing is only 76 minutes).

The second commentary is by Shatner, giving a bunch of tall tales in a matter of fact tone. Many silent sections and he doesn't say goodbye.