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GENE RODDENBERRY'S BRITISH-TV SCIENCE-HORROR OF 'SPECTRE'

Gene Roddenberry's SPECTRE Year: 1977 Rating: ***

Gene Roddenberry had a string of failed but always intriguing TV-pilots (from PLANET EARTH to THE QUESTOR TAPES) in-between the STAR TREK series and movies, and SPECTRE is the most unique and downright bizarre... so much so it's a British production instead of American but with two American actors at the helm...

Enter Robert Culp and Gig Young as a kind of science-fiction Holmes and Watson... The first is a renowned criminologist now so heavily into Black Magic that when his former partner in faithful yet boozing Dr. Ham Hamilton reconnects, Culp's William Sebastian is sitting on his mansion floor reading Tarot Cards like a regular guy plays Solitaire...

Robert Culp in Gene Roddenberry's SPECTRE

Then, after some complicated expository about a heart ailment caused by his devilish hobbies, the show's off to a splendid start as British ingenue Ann Bell arrives, tries seducing Culp, who then burns her to the ground... literally shot down in flames simply because instead of human she's a demonic replica/succubus...

Meanwhile the shy genuine article is in England... the only female member of an aristocratic family of possible Satanists that includes a much too subtle and unassuming John Hurt... the kind of always-intense actor who must be hiding something if he's not fully-charged up front...

Ann Bell in Gene Roddenberry's SPECTRE

Deliberately misleading both the audience and token constable Gordon Jackson to assume that strict older brother James Villiers is behind all the ghoulishness, which includes a finale coven bash where a TIME MACHINE-inspired hog creature turns into a lizard beast much like a STAR TREK Gorn...

Otherwise the first half is the most intriguing as the dialogue and action flows together smoothly, while the latter's more sterile and stagy: then again so are some Hammer films where British and American actors, working together for the sake of a good old fashion ghost story over violent exploitation, are compelling no matter what the score.

Bosch opening credits for Gene Roddenberry's SPECTRE
Robert Culp in Gene Roddenberry's SPECTRE
Robert Culp in Gene Roddenberry's SPECTRE with Gordon Jackson
John Hurt in Gene Roddenberry's SPECTRE
James Villiers in Gene Roddenberry's SPECTRE
Robert Culp in Gene Roddenberry's SPECTRE with Ann Bell
From Gene Roddenberry's SPECTRE

Robert Culp in Gene Roddenberry's SPECTRE
Gig Young in Gene Roddenberry's SPECTRE
Ann Bell in Gene Roddenberry's SPECTRE


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