Some Occult Detectives You May Have Missed

My friend David Wilbanks recently asked on Facebook for suggestions of good Occult Detective TV shows and movies to watch. Here are six of my favorites (that you may have missed):

Dark Intruder — The Black Cloak was a failed made-for-TV pilot (there are a lot of those to be found in the occult detective genre) starring Leslie Nielsen as playboy sleuth and occult expert Brett Kingsford. The studio felt it was too scary and violent for television and dumped it off on the double-bill drive-in circuit. I used to catch it now and then on late night TV back in the 70s. Thankfully, someone stuck it on youtube. Well worth a look.


Never Come Night — Yet another failed pilot, this time from the BBC, The Incredible Robert Baldick starred Robert Hardy as an eccentric dilettante scientist/detective “dedicated to fighting evil in its more occult manifestations”. It can also be found on youtube, though the quality is quite poor. It’s still more than worth a look, if you like your occult detectives in the style of a Hammer Gothic.


Night of the Demon — based on M.R. James’ classsic “The Casting of the Runes”, Night of the Demon is a brilliant horror film. Dr. John Holden, investigating the murder of his friend, Professor Harrington, comes into conflict with the devilish Dr. Julian Karswell, leader of a satanic cult. This one should not be missed. A true classic.


The Norliss Tapes — Dan Curtis’ groundbreaking TV pilot (another that failed to make it to series), written by William F. Nolan and Fred Mustard Stewart, The Norliss Tapes starred Roy Thinnes as an investigative reporter who disappears while investigating the supernatural, leaving behind nothing but his research tapes. This had a lot of promise, even if the special effects left a bit to be desired.

norliss_new statue

Rouse Him Not — an adaptation of Manly Wade Wellman’s classic made it onto TV as an episode of “Monsters”. Alex Cord deliciously chews up the scenery as John Thunstone, bringing to life one of the genre’s all-time great occult detectives.


Spectre — saving the best (or at least, my favorite) for last, we have Gene Roddenberry’s failed pilot, Spectre, starring the legendary Robert Cult as criminologist and occult expert William Sebastian. This has everything an occult detective fan could hope for — sex, magick, murder, and a devilish arch-villain.


And there you have ’em, six occult detective tales that, unfortunately, aren’t as well known as they bloody well should be. Check them out for yourself. You can thank me later.


2 Responses to “Some Occult Detectives You May Have Missed”

  1. Joe Muszynski Says:

    I have a copy of “Spectre” right here that and I haven’t seen it since I first watched it a long, long time ago. Looking forward to it. I seem to recall Norliss Tapes – will have to track it down, as well as the others. You’ve got a great perspective on the genre!

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