• Classic Horrors Club

TV Terror Guide 10-4-19: Kolchak the Night Stalker (The Vampire)



Air Date: Oct. 4, 1974

Written by: David Chase (teleplay), Bill Stratton (story)

Directed by: Don Weis

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Monster of the Week: Vampire

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Kolchak is supposed to be interviewing a guru in Los Angeles.

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Kolchak suspects the supernatural when he hears about three deaths west of Las Vegas, then examines the car in which one of the bodies was found and learns that the windows have been covered with black paper from the inside.

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Kolchak’s theory is that one of Janos Skorzeny’s (the vampire from The Night Stalker that he battled in Las Vegas) victims has risen from the grave and is working as a call girl in Los Angeles.

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He stops the threat by luring the vampire to the Cahuenga cross in the Hollywood Hills and setting it on fire. While she’s writhing on the ground, he drives a wooden stake into her heart.

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Quote(s):

They should meet my boss. He’d turn Buddha into a chain smoker.
In Ichabod’s parlance, his new acquisition was called a fox. He had no way of knowing she was actually more closely related to the bat.

Postscript:

They booked me for murder just like I thought they would, but then after 12 hours they let me go. They never said why, but while I was sitting in Lt. Matteo's office waiting for execution, I happened to see a coroner's report on Catherine Rawlins. I quote the coroner: "The tissue structure of the individual appeared to be that of a female species human who had been dead at least three years. This is a medical conundrum for which I have no explanation." Three years!

Comments:

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First of all, what a great idea: a sequel to the original The Night Stalker TV movie! The details are a little fuzzy and there’s no mention of Janos Skorzeny, but the story doesn’t contradict anything that happened “three years ago.” One of his victims is unearthed at a construction site in Las Vegas and heads west to Los Angeles where she works as a high-priced call girl.

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Thank goodness Kolchak gets wind of the deaths and is able to use a little reverse psychology on Vincenzo to get him to send him to L.A. for a big interview. I love how he recruits a local real estate agent to write the story he was assigned and how the script follows through when Vincenzo realizes the style is different from Kolchak’s. I like Kathleen Nolan as Faye Kruger and would like to have seen her character recur.

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It doesn’t seem like there’s as much monster action in this episode, but one scene is a doozy when the vampire, Catherine Rawlins (Suzanne Charny), is about to bite one of the Los Angeles Rams and his teammates appear to play a practical joke on him. Of course, Kolchak finds himself in the middle of it all when bodies start flying and he pulls a Peter Cushing move by fashioning a temporary cross out of fireplace tools.

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William Daniels is also great as Kolchak’s police foe of the week, Lieutenant Jack Matteo, but then he’s good in anything. His actions and reactions as Kolchak crazily explains what’s really happening are hilarious. Matteo says, “…and on your way home you can drop off your vampire story in Transylvania!” Kolchak replies, “This vampire didn’t come from Transylvania; it came from Las Vegas.”

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The common theme here is chemistry, and that’s something that flows freely between Darren McGavin and the show’s guest stars. When he and the scripts are firing on all cylinders, it’s a joy to watch. And the climax in The Vampire is truly thrilling. Kolchak also seems to thrive on spectacle, and while there may have been simpler ways to stop Catherine Rawlins, none would have been as dramatic.


This weeks notable television guest appearances (September 27-October 4, 2019):


Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Claude Akins (7th), Harry Guardino, Hugh Marlowe, Carol Lynley, Vince Edwards (8th), Peter Lorre, George Peppard (9th), Pat Hingle (10th), Joseph Cotton (11th)

The Invaders: Russell Johnson, Harold Gould (5th)

The Outer Limits: William Shatner (8th), James Doohan (10th), Robert Culp (11th)

The Time Tunnel: Ellen Burstyn (6th)

The Twilight Zone: Charles Herbert, Veronica Cartwright (6th), Donald Pleasence (7th), Jack Klugman, Bill Mumy (8th), Lee Marvin (9th), William Shatner (10th)

Wonder Woman: Martin Mull (5th)

Click here to see consolidated, real-time listings

for classic horror movies and television shows airing this week.

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