Spectre (1977)

SPECTRE (1977)
Article 2135 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-19-2007
Posting Date: 6-17-2007
Directed by Clive Donner
Featuring Robert Culp, Gig Young, John Hurt

Two criminologists turned occult investigators go to England to discover whether an ancient demon has been released from bondage.

Gene Roddenberry made several attempts to launch new series during the seventies via made-for-TV pilots, but he never had much success until he went back to the “Star Trek” franchise. This is one of his more interesting attempts; instead of another science fiction variation, it goes the horror route in giving us two investigators into the occult. It’s not entirely successful; the story seems confused and a bit muddled, and it’s a little too low key for its own good, but it also has a unique feel to it that makes me wish it had made it to a series; I would like to have seen the directions it would have gone. In particular, I liked Robert Culp’s focused but subtle intensity; there’s a real conviction to his performance. It’s also nice to see John Hurt, who would gain a certain genre fame by dying a horrible death in ALIEN (which he would reprise in Mel Brooks’ SPACEBALLS) and then went on to play the title role in THE ELEPHANT MAN. I suspect that this movie was released abroad with added footage; there’s some scenes in my copy that certainly didn’t air on network TV, so it’s a little difficult for me to say how racy it was when it first aired here. It’s definitely an interesting effort, and I suspect that it would hold up on rewatching.



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