Anna Biller Filmmaker


16mm, color, 27 mins.

Still from THE INCUBUS

Lucy, (Anna Biller) a young Victorian woman in the Old West, is being tormented by nightly visits from an incubus (a horrible demon who has sexual intercourse with sleeping women). Her friend Madeleine (Natalia Schroeder) tries to console her, but is unable to help. A fallen woman, Lucy gets a job singing at the local saloon. However, the Incubus (Jared Sanford) has followed her there; and things take an unexpected turn as Lucy and the Incubus, amidst the rowdy cowboys and saucy can-can girls, have their final showdown. With beautiful period costumes and sets by director Anna Biller that are borrowed from 1950's Technicolor films, plus big hairdos, weird musical numbers, and plenty of great character actors, this Horror-Western-Musical has all of the elements of a cult classic.

Written, Produced and Directed by: Anna Biller
Starring: Anna Biller, Jared Sanford, and Natalia Schroeder
With: Gerald "J. J." Johnson and Joe Babicki
Cinematography: William Roland, Daniel Pfisterer, C. Thomas Lewis, Chris Nils Laine
Sound: Brian P. Linder
Costumes, Sets, and Music: Anna Biller
Makeup and Hair: Tony Valdés
Assistant Directors: Don Poquette, Tod Ciaciuch, Anne Misawa
Editing: Anna Biller
Ballad of the Incubus sung by: Wayne Austin



With A Visit from the Incubus, all of the good things about Anna Biller's marvelous short films have finally crystallized into the ultimate high-camp vision of old Hollywood, infused with a distinct feminist sensibility and an unabashed joy in the art of filmmaking. Set in the old West -- or, more accurately, Hollywood's 1950s Technicolor vision of the old West -- it's the story of Lucy McGee (Biller), a naive, nervous woman who is transformed into a brassy saloon singer following nightly visits from a demonic incubus (Jared Sanford). Drawing its inspiration from not only old Westerns but Hammer Gothics (the nightmare scene is straight from Horror of Dracula) and silent movies (Sanford's demon looks like something from Witchcraft Through the Ages), the film nevertheless feels completely authentic, right down to its silly but convincing cowboy ballads and the drunken Mexican outside the saloon.

One of the biggest problems facing most attempts to make films in the old-school style these days is that of casting... most modern actors just don't have the same faces that actors did in the old days. A Visit from the Incubus, however, is a triumph of casting, and may very well elicit joyful gasps over the ultra-authenticity of its saloon cowboys and especially its saloon manager, an actor named Gerald "J.J." Johnson who might have just stepped out of a time machine from the set of an actual 1950s Western. Then there's Anna Biller, whose ethnic beauty seems decidedly out of place at first, but her conviction and performance is so on-target that by the end of the film a viewer might be mistakenly convinced that he's watching Jane Russell herself. Even executive producer Jared Sanford, whose campier, less-faithful vision almost sunk his screenplay for Biller's The Hypnotist, seems to have found his niche hamming it up as the Incubus, the one perversely mismatched element that gives the film its underground credibility.

This is a film to cherish and watch repeatedly, at least until Biller finishes her feature-length take on '70s exploitation, the long-awaited Viva. Personally, I'd love to see her go from Technicolor to Eastmancolor and actually attempt a full-scale Hammer-style Gothic at some point. Like the adorably quirky films of Michael Legge, Anna Biller's work has quickly made her one of AWCM's favorite filmmakers, and definitely one to keep an eye on in the future. Films like these show that you can make a point (in this case, the liberating power of women's fantasies in a repressive male-dominated society) without being as grim and cynical as all too many recent indie efforts. This film looks, sounds, and feels great, and it's the sort of thing that reminds me in just 26 minutes, and even after seeing some 16,000 movies (of which about 15,000 were crap), of all the things that made me love cinema in the first place. Highly recommended. --Robert Firsching


A Visit from the Incubus. Far more entertaining than her other short film The Hypnotist and just as visually delicious, Anna Biller has once again left me in complete awe over her ability to capture a long passed period of film - this time around, a 1950's Technicolor western with a touch of the supernatural.

Poor helpless Lucy is suffering nightly attacks from the Incubus, a dream demon that ravages women in their sleep. Having enough of this jackassery, Lucy decides to make something of herself, so she gussies up and heads down to the saloon where she applies for a job as the establishment’s singing and dancing entertainment. The next evening, as she prepares for her debut performance, Lucy is bummed to find that co-billed with her is...The Incubus. And so it is in front of a crowd of hooting and hollering cowboys that the two go head up with one another with a little song and dance competition.

It's interesting how this film starts out as a creepy, even sexy, piece with this demon coming through the window to paw at the defenseless Lucy, only to turn around and become a full blown musical, which in turn finds the Incubus becoming this sort of shameless hack stage performer as Lucy blossoms into a star.

Brilliantly directed, written and acted, the biggest star of this film is once again, Biller's impeccable talent for set and costume design. You just can’t help but get sucked into the Technicolor world that she knows so well. Truly astonishing. Go to her site and check it out now! You go now!! --Eric Campos


Everyone who knows me knows I'm a sucker for short movies. If it is a 5 minute Sci Fi dream or a 25 minute horror fantasy I'll put it in my player, anytime. While many of these movies are predestined to gather dust maybe shown once or twice on a movie festival, some of them are properly released.

The latter is true for the cult western fantasy "A Visit from the Incubus" by American beauty, star, writer and director Anna Biller. And when she says it has weird musical numbers, wonderful costumes and borrowed 1950's sets, that's exactly what she means. The sets and costumes are indeed wonderful and this alone makes it worth viewing this short movie. Add some cult elements, some burlesque French Can Can girls and an extremely campy Incubus (Jared Sanford) and it makes the picture complete.

Anna tried to mix some of her favourite genres into this movie. The final product is a mixture of Westerns, Hollywood Musicals and Early Hammer horror movies with a very surprising outcome. When you know that Anna Biller has put so much labour in making this movie, you have to admire her. She spent months preparing the sets and sewing the costumes, she took the editing of the movie, produced and directed this short film, and even the soundtrack is composed by herself. It's no wonder that this multi-level genius from LA has been nominated and even won several awards. Her films and plays are shown on many locations in the US on Film Festivals and Art spaces.

Keep an eye out for Anna Biller, we at Razor Reel will. We are looking out to view her upcoming cult feature Viva, which looks even more surprising and will without doubt hit many festivals,soon. --Patrick Van Hauwaert


A Visit From The Incubus is a slightly misleading title. Anna Biller's monstrously creative and funny short film is mostly about what happens after the incubus pays a visit to Miss Lucy McGee, a chaste young woman living in the Old West in the late 1800's. Lucy, feeling violated and rather un-virginal after the incubus (a sex demon) ravishes her night after night, decides to take a familiar, and yet surprisingly constructive and nearly feminist stance against her rape, and ends up coming out a winner. Biller's wild taste and eccentric attention to detail makes Visit a theatrical experiment n color, costume, style, and genre. Also, it is sort of a horror film. I mean, Incubi and all. Anna Biller, dramatist and independent filmmaker, has a reputation for making films and writing plays that involve a creative edge a notch above even the most decisively "artistic" independent projects.--Heidi Martinuzzi


When you think of Western movies, you may conjure up images of Gary Cooper facing down a trio of desperadoes on a deserted street. But how often do you associate the genre with a saloon act featuring a singing and dancing incubus? The West sure has changed. Maybe it went that-away. Or maybe the new crop of filmmakers is infusing this firmly American cinematic genre with new blood. Call it "The New West." That's what the Santa Fe Film Festival is titling a series of five short films that pay homage to the Western while pushing its boundaries past the usual limits...

Rounding out the quintet of horse operas is Anna Biller's must-see film A Visit from the Incubus, which mixes the Western genre with ingredients from horror films, musicals and comedies...A Visit from the Incubus should make you happy, thanks to a delightful sense of humor and an off-the-wall, no-rules-apply approach. It also has its disturbing moments, particularly in the early scenes wherein an incubus, a mythical creature who sexually devours women while they sleep, takes advantage of slumber-bound Lucy (played by director-writer Biller). But Lucy gets her revenge--in the style of the West, though she's more Mae West than Old West. The two have their final showdown--a talent contest--in a saloon full of rowdy, lusty cowboys. Since the incubus not inly looks like that old character actor J. Carrol Naish but also sings and danceslike J. Carroll Naish, he really doesn't stand much of a chance.

Shot on the sly on various soundstages in the Los Angeles area, A Visit from the Incubus plays like an early 1950's garish musical fantasy with supernatural elements sprinkled throughout. Biller, a theater and film artist, pays tribute to such cult Westerns as Rancho Notorious and Johnny Guitar with this short. "I'm a big fan of Westerns," Biller said by phone from her home in Los Angeles. "I've studied the Westerns where women were the fighters and the shooters and just as good as the men. I'm fascinated by this because the Western is a male genre, and I'm trying to reclaim it a little bit." Reclaiming it also meant reinventing it. She managed to pack four film genres into 26 minutes and continously hold interest thanks to a strong narrative that nonetheless leaves enough room to take playful detours. Biller said she was using the incubus to draw attention to the sexual confusion surrounding women when they find themselves wanting to be desirable but also wanting to be in control of the passions that come with an attitude. "The incubus takes her sexually and uses her for his own pleasure," she said. "But she fights him by taking her sexuality back and using it for her own pleasure in arousing a saloon full of cowboys. It's about things that are very female-oriented: the fear of being raped contrasting with the excitement of being a woman who is sexy and desirable." She laughingly noted that her decision to do the story in a Western setting stemmed from her own desire to do a big saloon musical number. Incubus is not exactly a one-person show, but Biller did write it, direct it, produce it,make the costumes, find the soundstages, build the sets, write the music (which is a howl) and perform in it. Fortunately her out-of-the-ballpark artistic talent pays off on all levels.

Biller said that when she's watched the film with an audience in a movie theater, they generally suffer from a "collective delirium." She won't be able to attend the Santa Fe Film Festival but hopes the audiences connect on some level. "I want people to laugh and enjoy it," she said. "But I also want them to get that weird feeling where they say, 'Something is happening in this film that's different from what you normally see." To that end, A Visit from the Incubus fits the bill. It's probably unlike anything else you've ever seen, and you can't blame Biller for coloring outside the lines. After all, there aren't too many Gary Coopers around anymore. --Robert Nott


Anna Biller's Hammer-horror/'50's Western parody A Visit from the Incubus plays like an overlong SNL sketch yet haunts the memory like some creepy David Lynch set piece. --Ron Stringer


A VISIT FROM THE INCUBUS is lovably preposterous. Set in the Old West, writer-director Anna Biller also tackles the lead role of Lucy, a young woman plagued by nighttime visitations from a sexual vampire known as an incubus. Comically portrayed by Jared Sanford, he's a lustful bloke with devil horns and cape; and though our heroine is sick of this demonic intruder, she's also a bit aroused by it all. Soon sexually-liberated Lucy takes a racy job aat a local saloon, only to be stalked by this annoying incubus, who intrudes on her stage show with his own absurd musical routine! Meanwhile, Biller gets to strut her stuff, by singing, dancing and winning over the rowdy cowboy crowd. Every aspect of the film has an extremely theatrical--almost artificial--quality. The sets are soaked with color (particularly Lucy's bedroom) and the performances are amusingly overripe. It's a strange, delightful 26-minute romp. --Steven Puchalski


A Visit from the Incubus is delightfully silly, filled with great one-liners and acting that's so intentionally wooden, it's laugh-out-loud funny. Biller also directed Incubus, making her not just a female director to watch, but a noteworthy young filmmaker, period. --Ernest Hardy


If you've ever wondered when the next John Waters or Pedro Almodovar will appear to claim the crown as new cult queen, you may have already missed the underground coronation of Ms. Anna Biller in this role. While everyone was expecting the next cult fave to be male-created as usual, flickmaker Anna Biller quietly stepped into the throne room and was graciously awarded the title. --Dave Coleman


Scott Wallace Brown: Anna, you not only wrote and directed A Visit from the Incubus, but you edited it, wrote the music, designed the sets and costumes, and played the lead acting role! Is there anything you CAN'T do?

Anna Biller: Well...if you mean in terms of making a film, I don't work the camera or sound or set up lights. But everything else I HAVE to do, because I want to make these elaborate movies and I don't have money to pay professionals to do it... more



Scott Wallace Brown: Anna, you not only wrote and directed A Visit from the Incubus, but you edited it, wrote the music, designed the sets and costumes, and played the lead acting role! Is there anything you CAN'T do?

Anna Biller: Well...if you mean in terms of making a film, I don't work the camera or sound or set up lights. But everything else I HAVE to do, because I want to make these elaborate movies and I don't have money to pay professionals to do it... more


ANNA BILLER: LIFE OF A STAR. Writing, directing, producing, designing, choreographing, editing, scoring and performing in her own films, Anna Biller creates worlds dripping with style that pull their viewers into a Technicolor dreamland that not only serve as a feast for the eyes but as Anna has said about her film The Hypnotist, they can be “mild and pleasant.” “When I watch The Hypnotist, I get a strange feeling, like when you’re a kid and you have a fever and you watch some old movie and it doesn’t make any sense to you because you’re sick, and the colors and sounds just kind of wash over you.”

Focusing on personal and feminist issues set against old Hollywood, theatrical-burlesque, and mythical-allegorical backdrops, Anna has her own ideas on feminism and she’s not shy about parading them in front of you with films like “Three Examples of Myself as Queen”, “Fairy Ballet” and A Visit from the Incubus, which is currently being screened at the Chicago Underground Film Festival. This isn’t your typical feminist fare and for that, Anna has received mixed reactions – those that refuse to take her fantastical feminist theory seriously and those that can’t get enough of her stylish work. -Eric Campos