THE NIGHT STALKER Jan 11th 1972
Starring Darren McGavin, Simon Oakland, Carol Lynley, Ralph Meeker, Claude Akins
Here’s the IMDB Summary; Carl Kolchak is a newspaper reporter with an abrasive personality that has gotten him fired ten times from various big-city papers. Now he's reduced to reporting for a relatively small-time paper in Las Vegas. It's here he gets the story of his life. But will the local sheriff, or the D.A., or even his own boss, let him print it? He has an ally in the FBI agent (Ralph Meeker) brought in to investigate this strange case. It seems someone is biting the necks of young girls and draining their blood. Can this killer with supernormal powers really be a 70-year-old Romanian millionaire? Can he really be a vampire? And can an aging reporter do anything to stop him?
The movie differs from the show in some small ways— Kolchak is more Hollywood in the way we see him with a girlfriend, in the series he has little time for women. Kolchak is working for the newspaper in Las Vegas under his old friend Tony Vincenzo but it’s a bigger paper than he eventually works for with him in Chicago during the series.
The TV Movie was the highest rated of all time, which led to a sequel the following year.
Produced by Dan Curtis, who brought us DARK SHADOWS a few years earlier, it’s equal parts THE FRONT PAGE and DRACULA.
Darren McGavin, who plays Carl, was 50 when he starred in this, which is refreshing. It gives him a seasoned flair and they never would have done this today. McGavin played Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer in a late 50s TV series and Ralph Meeker, who plays the FBI agent, also played Hammer in the outstanding 1955 Robert Altman movie KISS ME DEADLY.
As the vampire, Barry Atwater is intimidating and menacing, far from the usual charm we usually see with such characters. Atwater made a career out of playing tough characters and he passed away just a few years after this came out.
Kolchak is abrasive and rough around the edges and that’s what we love about him.
HOW’S THE MONSTER: Vampire looks great!
HOW’S THE SEASONED COP WHO HATES KOLCHAK: Claude Akins is not a fan of Carl.
WHO ARE THE ODDBALL GUEST STARS: Not as many as in the series, but there are still some good ones here.
Next week: The Second Movie