Wednesday, January 9, 2019


Darren McGavin confronts a vampire in The Night Stalker

Rumpled news reporter Carl Kolchack (Darren McGavin) is always trying to get a big story. He seems to irritate everyone along the way, especially his boss Vincenzo (Simon Oakland). In The Night Stalker, Karl is in Las Vegas and comes across a big story in that there is a killer on the loose...and this killer turns out to be a vampire! Most of the movie involves Kolchack piecing together clues and always seeming to show up whenever the vampire (Barry Atwater) is around to get a few good pics.

Despite the fact that Kolchack saves the day in The Night Stalker, he is banished to Seattle for the second movie, The Night Strangler. He has also lost his girlfriend (Carol Lynley)  from the first movie. He does meet up with Vincenzo for the second film. In this one, Kolchack is searching through the sewers of Seattle for a creature that seems to have found a creature that comes out only every few years to wreak havoc on the citizens of the city.

The Night Stalker was one of the most popular TV movies of the era and led to a short-lived television series. Chris Carter has stated that this show was a major inspiration for his later show, The X-Files.

I certainly enjoyed watching these movies again after so many years.

The Cast
Darren McGavin was one of the most prolific of actors during the classic era of the television movie (Including the upcoming Something Evil). He also appeared in numerous television shows and feature films as well. To many, he is know chiefly as the dad in A Christmas Story. To me, he'll always be the rumpled reporter, Carl Kolchack.

Simon Oakland as Vinchenzo. Vinchenzo is the type of character who seemed to be predominate television dramas during the 70's. This was the harried boss man of the main character who always yelled at them, always threatened to fire them and always told them that they couldn't get away with something or the other. Other roles for Oakland include the psychiatrist in the last scene of Psycho and Office Krupke in West Side Story.

Barry Atwater plays the vampire here. Atwater also played Surak the Vulcan in the Star Trek episode, The Savage Curtain.

Claude Akins plays the law here. Not the funny Sheriff Lobo kind of lawman he later played, but the kind of lawman that doesn't hate anything in the world more than Carl Kolchack.

Elisha Cook Jr.-Ah, my man Elisha. One of the greatest character actors of them all puts in a nice cameo as the guy on the street who gets Kolchack some info. Giving information to the main character to advance the plot is what Cook does the best.

Ralph Meeker-Meeker plays Kolchack's sometime partner here. Meeker was a leading man in such 1001 films The Naked GunPaths of Glory and Kiss Me Deadly.

Carol Lynley-Of all of Lynley's films, the one I associate her most with is The Poseidon Adventure. I had a friend that I watched The Poseidon Adventure with who I asked if they preferred Stella Stevens or Carol Lynley. He said, "I've always been a Lynley man." I was a Stella Stevens booster, but after watching The Night Stalker this time around, I'm beginning to think that I may now be more of  a Lynley man, too.

Carol Lynley with McGavin in
The Night Stalker

Jo Ann Pflug-Kolchack's romantic interest in The Night Strangler also played Lt. Dish in MASH and frequented many a 70's game show panel.

Wally Cox-Three things I remember about Wally Cox. He was a regular on The Hollywood Squares, did the voice of Underdog and had the same last name as I did. I remember being taken aback for that reason when he died in 1973. The bookish Mr. Cox played an archivist in The Night Strangler. Cox died before the movie aired.

Wally Cox provides info to Kolchack
in The Night Strangler

John Carradine, Margaret Hamilton, Al Lewis-Interesting to note the horror roots of these three actors that appear in The Night Strangler: The Universal Dracula, The Wicked Witch of the West and Grandpa Munster.

The Directors
John Llewellyn Moxey's name has come up twice before on this month's blog, for The House That Wouldn't Die and The Last Child. This makes Moxey the odds on favorite for director of the month. Producer of the month is Aaron Spelling. He did so many of these TV movies that I don't even mention it anymore.

Dan Curtis took over the director chair for The Night Strangler. He certainly produced his share of big TV events in the 70's and 80's, but he will forever be known to me as the producer of the cult TV soap/horror classic, Dark Shadows.

The Writer
(Both films) Richard Matheson. One of my favorite writers. Whether The Twilight Zone, Duel, Trilogy of Terror or I Am Legend, anything with Matheson's name on it automatically has that going for it.

 Kolchack trying to convince Vinchenzo of something
in The Night Strangler

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