Incubus, was a 1966 American horror film, starring soon to be Captain Kirk, William Shatner. However its claim to fame has more to do with the streak of misfortune that struck many that were involved in the film.
It was directed by Leslie Stevens who created The Outer Limits and shot in black and white. The actors spoke their lines in the constructed language Esperanto to create an otherworldly feeling.
The plot surrounds the efforts of succubus and incubus to lead human souls into perdition. Even in the 1960s, it was considered an underground film, and perhaps many were unaware of the curse that would nip at the heels of those involved in its production.
The setting is a small village named Nomen Tuum during a lunar eclipse. There are two succubus sisters, Kia (played by Allyson Ames) and Amael (played by Eloise Hardt). Kia determines to seduce an innocent or clean soul. The intended victim is William Shatner's character, a wounded soldier.
At the end of the film, the question is, does purity overcome corruption?
The incubus was played by Yugoslavian Milos Milos (born Miloš Milošević), who was a stunt double and bodyguard for actor Alain Delon. He was the first to suffer the consequences of working in the film.
In 1965, while still married to Cynthia Bouron, Milos started an affair with actress Carolyn Mitchell (born Barbara Ann Thomason) who was estranged from her husband Mickey Rooney.
Shortly after the release of Incubus, in February, 1966, Barbara Thomason Rooney, 29, and Milos, 25, were found dead in the bathroom of the home she once shared with Mickey Rooney and their four young children.
The police believed it was a murder suicide, spurred by Milos' belief that Barbara was seeking to reconcile with Mickey.
During the incident Rooney was at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, recovering from an intestinal infection he caught in the Philippines while filming Ambush Bay.
The story was that Rooney had returned from the Philippines in December to find that his estranged wife had taken up with Milos, who had been a friend of the family for a year.
A week before the incident Rooney had filed for divorce. The day of the murder, Mickey and Barbara met at the hospital, and Rooney tried to convince her to resume their marriage, and she agreed to stop seeing Milos. They had married in 1960.
Milos' wife Cynthia had already filed for divorce charging him with assault.
Initially Milosevic agreed to ending the relationship. He then took Barbara into the master bedroom and locked the door. This was the last time either was seen alive.
The next day a house guest unlocked the bedroom door and found Barbara Rooney shot through the jaw. Milos' body was on top of hers; he had a bullet hole through his temple.
Afterwards official inquiry found that Milos had shot Thomason with Rooney's chrome-plated .38 caliber revolver. Rumors swirled that Rooney was the one who killed them both in revenge for their betrayal. This was Rooney's fifth marriage.
In a strange twist, it appeared the being Alain Delon's bodyguard came with its own run of bad luck. Stevan Markovic who was Delon's bodyguard was found murdered in a Paris rubbish dump in 1969. The police investigation disclosed allegations of sex parties involving Delon and other French government officials.
In 1969, the BBC interviewed Delon about what became known as the "Markovic affair".
Reporter: People, once more, don't say it straight to your face but they suggest very very strongly that you have homosexual tastes?
Ironically he was considered a screen sex symbol during the 1960s and 1970s, and there's that strange tie-in to a goat which figures prominently in the film.
But getting back to the Incubus curse...
Shortly after the release of the film Leslie Stevens' production company went bankrupt. He was married to Alysson Ames and they divorced.
Shatner's sister in the film, who is raped by a goat which is the Incubus in disguise is played by actress Ann Atmar. She committed suicide in October, 1966.
Then, in 1968, Marina Habe, 17, the daughter of another actress in the film, Eloise Hardt, was viciously murdered. Her body was found dumped off Mulholland Drive. The killers were never found; some believe she was the victim of members of the Manson family.
A year later, Sharon Tate and her unborn child would be murdered by the Manson family. She had attended the premiere of Incubus with Roman Polanski.
The film, thought to be lost was found in 1996 with French subtitles at Cinematheque Francaise.
Some were spared from the dark shadow cast by Incubus. Shatner would go on to become one of Hollywood’s most recognizable actors. Cinematographer Conrad Hall would go on to win three Academy Awards for his work on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, American Beauty, and Road to Perdition.
In his book Shatner Rules, Shatner described that a few months after the end of filming, he was in a make up chair for Star Trek, "when a rock came crashing through the trailer window."
He found a note attached to it, which read, "You're next Shatner! The Esperantists!" It said they were angry because they had not been consulted during the course of the film and "ticked off" they were excluded from the premiere. They'd also asked for autographs from Shatner and their requests had been ignored, so they decided to curse Incubus and "anyone who laid eyes on the film."
Shatner writes that he destroyed every copy of the movie he came across.
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by M.P. Pellicer