TV Terror Guide 10-11-19: Kolchak the Night Stalker (The Werewolf)
Air Date: Nov. 1, 1974
Written by: David Chase & Paul Playdon
Directed by: Alan Baron
Monster of the Week: Werewolf
Kolchak is supposed to be writing incisive, thought-provoking stories that expose swinging singles aboard a cruise ship.
Kolchak suspects the supernatural when he takes pictures of four bodies near the swimming pool and is knocked unconscious by a hairy beast.
He stops the threat by melting the buttons from the captain’s dress uniform to make silver bullets. Well, actually, that’s how he intends to stop the threat… it doesn’t work and he ends up pulling the monster overboard while hanging on to the railing for dear life.
…though you, the reader, would find these facts almost impossible to substantiate, that does not change their nature. Facts they are. I know. I saw them happen.
Get in your cabin, you dumb-dumb.
So here the story sits. For good, I guess. No one but you or I know the real truth… The Real Story.
As usual, no body was recovered and all evidence was destroyed. Rumor has it, though, that the survivors went to Switzerland to be treated for a rare blood disease. All traces of Bernhard Stieglitz vanished and NATO officials claimed he never existed.
This episode sort of squanders an opportunity to make a classic episode out of one of the most popular monsters. The Werewolf relies too heavily on the comic aspects of the series. Don’t get me wrong; it’s classic Kolchak. The funny parts don’t have the usual scary parts to balance them, though.
Plus, the monster is not a very good one… or doesn’t seem to be if you can even get a good look at it. That would be fine if the atmosphere is dark and creepy. Instead, it’s a brightly lit cruise ship. The idea of being trapped at sea with nowhere to go and a monster on board is a good one, but maybe this wasn’t the right monster to use.
There’s also less of the usual mystery aspect. Kolchak never gets to supply a full explanation or theory about the monster. It’s just simply a werewolf. I guess it’s sort of supplied via the opening and closing narration, but it’s more fun to hear him try to explain his theories to people that don’t believe.
What I liked most about The Werewolf was the guest cast, full of familiar 1970s TV faces. Dick Gautier is delightfully smarmy as Kolchak’s roommate, Mel Tarter. Nita Talbot is a good ally for Kolchak as Paula Griffin, with whom Mel and his ex-wife, Wendy (Jackie Russell) try to create a love connection.
Henry Jones is Captain Julian Wells, this episode’s substitute for the usual police chief or captain foil. Eric Braeden is Bernhardt Stieglitz, handsome and stylish traveller by day, but dangerous and deadly werewolf by night. If you don’t recognize the names, I bet you’d recognize their faces (or voices.)
The Werewolf is not a complete misfire; I don’t anticipate any of the episodes will be. Putting the monster on a love boat seems like a sweeps-week stunt, though. I mean, why didn’t they utilize a sea creature of some kind? It’s still enjoyable to watch, but it’s just not one of my favorites.
This weeks notable television guest appearances (October 11-18 Early AM, 2019):
Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Mildred Natwick, Leif Erickson, Martin Balsam (14th), Jeanette Nolan (16th), Mel Welles (17th), Ellen Corby (18th)
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Judy Landers, Richard Moll (12th)
The Invaders: Gene Hackman (12th)
Land of the Giants: Jonathan Harris (13th)
The Outer Limits: Eddie Albert (15th), Adam West (16th), Patrick O'Neal, Peter Haskell (17th)
Thriller: Ed Nelson, William Schallert (14th)
The Twilight Zone: Mickey Rooney, Telly Savalas (13th), James Coburn, John Marley (14th), Cedric Hardwicke (15th), Richard Basehart, Harold Gould (16th), Warren Oates, Greg Morris (17th)
Wonder Woman: Juliet Mills, David Hedison, John Colicos (12th)