Day 21 – Kolchak gets his start in The Night Stalker (1972)

Nowadays it’s easy to forget just how big some TV events could be back in those prehistoric days before cable, ot streaming, or those pockety phone things with all the goose games on them. Back in 1972 a movie called The Night Stalker aired as a TV “Movie of the Week” and about one in every 6 people watched it. That’s a lot of people tuning in to watch a renegatde newsman pursue a vampire. Fortunately for those people, the movie was very, very good. The newsman in question was the now-familar Karl Kochak, played impeccably by Darren McGavin. Watching the film nowadays you might be surprised how gritty it is, especially compared to the later TV series. For instance, Kochak’s girlfriend (Kolchak has a girlfriend in this) is a showgirl who, it’s hinted, is also a former (and maybe current) prositiute. But all the things you love about the TV show are here: the slow buildup of mysterious attacks, Karl’s slow realization that something supernatural might be responsible, the coverup by local government, the final conflict between Karl and the occult nemesis… all here, all done to perfection in the taut script by genre legend Richard Matheson. A must-see.

This is the best version I could find on youtube. There’s some slight blurring to the image but that’s probably the fault of the source material. Better than VHS quality. Enjoy!

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