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Spectre (film)

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Title card for the 1977 United Kingdom Film Spectre
Directed by Clive Donner
Produced by Gene Roddenberry
Written by Samuel A. Peeples
Gene Roddenberry
Starring Robert Culp
Gig Young
Release date(s) 1977
Running time 98 Minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

For other uses of the word Succubus, or movies involving Succubi, see Succubus (disambiguation).

Spectre is a 1977 made-for-television movie produced by Gene Roddenberry. It was co-written by Roddenberry and Samuel A. Peeples, and directed by Clive Donner. In this film a Succubus played by Ann Bell makes an appearance in one scene.

Movie Data

  • Title: Spectre
  • Directed by: Clive Donner
  • Produced by: Gene Roddenberry
  • Written by: Samuel A. Peeples, Gene Roddenberry
  • Starring: Robert Culp, Gig Young
  • Release date(s): 1977
  • Running time: 98 min.
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Language: English

Plot summary

William Sebastian (Robert Culp) is a criminologist who has taken to studying the occult to explain the problem of human evil. He has been cursed on one of his adventures, leaving him in constant need of medical attention. He summons an old colleague, Dr. Hamilton (Gig Young) to his home to help him with a case involving the Cyon family (in co-operation with his London informant Dr. Qualus). Dr. Hamilton does not believe in the occult and thinks that Sebastian and his housekeeper Lilith (Majel Barrett) are playing tricks on him when he witnesses unusual events. As the pair are getting reacquainted a lady who claims to be Anitra Cyon (Ann Bell) unexpectedly visits and asks Sebastian to desist from investrigating her family. Sebastian recognises that this person is not Anitra Cyon, but rather a Succubus sent to stop Sebastian from investigaing the case. He defeats her using the Apocryphal Book of Tobit and then sets out with Ham to the airport where they are flown by Mitri Cyon (John Hurt) to London. The journey is a dangerous one when the engines of the plane fail, something which Sebastian claims is as a result of supernatural intervention.

When they reach England Sebastian asks the Cyon chauffeur to stop off at Dr. Qualus' home, when they get there the house is on fire, and Ham and Sebastian find Dr. Qualus' body almost inside a Pentagram badly torn up. The police arrive, and an old acquaintance of the pair, Inspector Cabell (Gordon Jackson) escorts them to Cyon Manor. When they reach the Manor they investigate strange happenings involving a mysterious Satanic cult and the demon Asmodeus.


Spectre was intended as the pilot for a television series, but was rejected. The relationship between Sebastian and "Ham" is deliberately reminiscent of that of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, although there are also some aspects that recall the relationship between Roddenberry's own Spock and Leonard McCoy (Roddenberry previously revisited this relationship in an earlier failed pilot, The Questor Tapes).

Spectre was one of a number of unsuccessful television pilots in the 1970s in the occult detective sub-genre. After its rejection by American television, an extended version of Spectre was released in the United Kingdom as a theatrical film with additional footage that includes nudity.[1] The version currently in television syndication is a heavily edited version of the UK theatrical release, which retains some of the less explicit nudity in the black mass finale.[2]


  • Robert Culp as William Sebastian
  • Gig Youn] as Dr. Amos "Ham" Hamilton
  • John Hurt as Mitri Cyon
  • James Villiers as Sir Geoffrey Cyon
  • Gordon Jackson as Inspector Cabell
  • Ann Bell as Anitra Cyon
  • Majel Barrett as Lilith


Thirteen years previous to the events in "Spectre" Sebastian and Hamilton set themselves up as private criminologists and were fairly successful for eight years. The pair were usually called in to investigate crimes that regular police agencies were unable to solve, and although they didn't solve all cases, they were usually successful, and gained an international reputation. Sebastian was the one who would usually turn up an obscure clue or improbable suspect who turned out to be guilty, using intuition or something beyond. After eight years Hamilton and Sebastian fell out over money, Sebastian didn't manage money well and even when they had no money he would buy a Rolls-Royce on a whim or travel to India to met the latest guru. After they parted company Hamilton returned to his previous job as staff physician and forensic pathologist at Fairview General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and Sebastian went to California to work on his own.[3]


William Sebastian

William Sebastian (Robert Culp) is a former criminologist who worked in partnership with Amos "Ham" Hamilton for eight years, he is a brilliant detective with incredible intuitive skills and a belief that there are things beyond science that are real. He came to believe that some unseen forces were causing a number of significant crimes, particularly after studying Charles Manson, Richard Speck, the Boston Strangler, and the Tokyo Bluebeard. After his split with Ham five years ago he emersed himself in the Occult, and has become highly knowledgable about all matters occult, and has an extensive collection of occult artifacts (as well as Zener cards) and books (including the Apocryphal Book of Tobit). Recently Sebastian untook an occult experiment which has damaged his heart.

Amos "Ham" Hamilton

Dr. Amos "Ham" Hamilton (Gig Young) is a medical doctor who worked as staff physician and forensic pathologist at Fairview General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, but thirteen years ago he started a partnership with William Sebastian as criminal investigators. He was the more down-to-earth member of the partnership and after eight years Ham became tired of working with Sebastian and returned to Fairview. Recently he has been getting in trouble at work because of his drinkng and making advances with nurses.


Lilith (played by Gene Roddenberry's wife Majel Barrett) is Sebastian's housekeeper, a practicing witch who brews a remedy that "cures" Ham's alcoholism through aversion therapy.


A novelization of the movie was written by Robert Weverka, and published by Bantam Books in 1979 (ISBN: 0553133020 / 0-553-13302-0)[4] Robert Weverka novelised a number of other television and movie productions including; The Waltons, Apple's Way, The Sting, The Magic of Lassie, and Murder by Decree. The Spectre novelisation is 154 pages long and adds significant background information not present in the script.


  1. As noted by Joel Eisner in the TV party piece on Roddenberry's 70s attempts to produce new series
  2. Per Eisner
  3. Weverka, Robert (1979). "Spectre". Based on the screenplay by Sam Peeples and Gene Roddenberry (Bantham Books): pp. 2–4.
  4. ISBN2Books page on Spectre novel

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