Spectre, Shatner and Shorts

Shatner Industrial Film
This weekend I attended a tiny science fiction convention called ‘Sci Fi Summer Con’ for the second year in a row. In my opinion the very best thing this fledgling convention has going for it is the ‘Board Room’ where a gentleman (whose name I have yet to learn) runs a 16mm projector for most of the day, showing old television shows, old movie trailers and ancient industrial films featuring celebrities from the world of science fiction.

For the past two years the Board Room has been held in the hotel’s meeting room, where all the attendees can sit around a real board room table in nice high-back executive chairs. I was surprised to find that the room was virtually empty this year, due in no small part to the fact that it was hidden from the rest of the convention by a sitting room, a baby grand piano and a potted plant. Too bad for everyone else because there were plenty of fun things to see this time around including the original Star Wars trailer, a really interesting 1970’s mini-doc about robots and computer intelligence and a really well done industrial for AT&T about microprocessors hosted by William Shatner.

By far my favorite film was an old 1970’s television pilot titled ‘Spectre’, starring Robert Culp. This was one of Gene Roddenberry’s post-Star Trek efforts to launch another series and I have to say that I actually enjoyed Robert Culp’s frenetic performance as a no-nonsense spiritualist detective. The pilot had more than a little of the flavor of a Hammer Horror film and the cinematography was actually pretty good for a movie made for television. If a show like this ran on television today there’d be a hue and cry about the scantily clad actresses with breasts all but tumbling out during the very suggestive orgy scenes – but if you read anything about the pilot on the web you’re bound to run across a consensus opinion that this would have been a very popular series if it had been given the greenlight by the studio.

It wasn’t until the last ten minutes of the pilot that it fell apart because a rule of horror movies is that the movie goes town the tubes as soon as you see that the monster is a guy in a rubber suit. In this case, the rubber suit looked remarkably like the Gorn from Star Trek. I can’t help but wonder if they ran out of money right near the end and decided to raid the costume closet from Trek.

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