Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Night Strangler: Sleepless In Seattle

Imagine this scenario, classic horror fans: the novelist who wrote The Last Man On Earth teams up with the producer who created Dark Shadows for a series of television movies involving a pain- in-the- ass, hard-nosed newspaper reporter who covers crimes involving the supernatural. No need to use your imagination, this really happened. The movie The Night Stalker aired on ABC television on January 11, 1972, and featured reporter Carl Kolchak. In this first movie, written by Matheson, and produced by Dan Curtis, who also brought to the small screen the classic Trilogy of Terror, starred actor Darrin McGavin debuting as the character he would later make famous in the movie sequel and television series.

In two television movies and a series, Darrin McGavin portrayed the character Karl Kolchak, a hard-nosed reporter with a nose for finding the supernatural. 

In the original movie, and in the twenty television episodes of the series, Kolchak fought vampires, mummies,  zombies, witches, lizard people, and an android. But my favorite installment is the 1973 television movie The Night Strangler, which follows the adventures of Carl Kolchak, recently fired in Las Vegas, as he tracks a killer who re-appears every 21 years to stalk and murder six female victims to use their lifeblood as the secret ingredient in an elixir of eternal life. 

It's every bit as successfully campy as Dan Curtis' previous project, Dark Shadows. The set you're looking at is located in an underground Seattle of the 19th century where the Night Strangler makes his home. there's no rhyme or reason why he has to do so since he can pass for human just as well as Dick Cheney and a thousand other monsters, but he chooses to live here and only come above ground every 21 years to perform his grim task or harvesting blood from young ladies.

In the movie Kolchak clashes with everyone, including the Seattle police, the owner of his newspaper, Llewellyn Crossbinder, portrayed by horror veteran John Carradine, the actual murderer, and...

His long suffering editor and frenemy Vincenzo, portrayed by character actor Simon Oakland of Hawaii Five-O, amongst countless other television appearances, fame. Kolchak drives this poor man to conniptions and an ulcer by the end of the series. 

If you enjoy Dark Shadows or the X Files or all things camp and horror it's a pretty safe bet you won't regret checking out the two Kolchak: Night Stalker movies and twenty television episodes. 

June 24, 2013: Legendary writer Richard Matheson has died. I can't believe he wrote so many things I'v loved, including The Night Strangler. Duel, The Twightlight Zone, Trilogy of Terror, I Am Legend...

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