Monday, 26 October 2020


Considered lost for decades only for a copy to re-emerge in 1996 in a film archive in Paris, the horror movie by Leslie Stevens with cinematography by Conrad Hall (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Cool Hand Luke, American Beauty), starring William Shatner and Milos Milos (*1941 – †1966, the titular incubus and in life the lover of the estranged wife of Mickey Rooney and died in a murder-suicide pact), had its debut on this day in 1966.

Months before Shatner would begin his work on a television series filled with other constructed languages including Klingon which has also become a fully-formed and informed language in its own right, this cinematic experiment was only the second wherein all dialogue was in Esperanto. Though dubbed versions were prohibited, the creator’s use of the auxiliary language was not to make a single cut for all international markets but rather to convey an atmosphere of other-worldliness—Esperanto speakers disappointed with representation of the language by the actors’ poor pronunciation and the script’s grammatical failings. The setting is a pilgrimage destination, a village called Nomen Tuum (“your name”) with an enchanted well that can heal and enhance one’s looks—attracting a rather vain and corrupt patronage that crowds out those legitimately ill. In turn demons are drawn to pander to those who would treat this miraculous place as a beauty parlour and recruit them for the side of darkness. First shown at the San Francisco Film Festival and screened to a group including those above Esperanto enthusiasts and the scandal of Milos prior to release, the only willing distributor was in France, which premiered the film in November. Watch the whole film here or see a clip below.