TV Terror Guide 9-20-19: Kolchak the Night Stalker (The Zombie)
Air Date: Sept. 20, 1974
Written by: Zekial Marko and David Chase
Directed by: Alexander Grasshoff
Monster of the Week: The Zombie
Kolchak is supposed to be taking the niece of Abe Marmelstein (executive at INS, New York), Monique, with him to a police raid at a Syndicate burial ground. (He puts her in the trunk, supposedly to take pictures from there, but actually leaves her in there as he drives around town.)
Kolchak suspects the supernatural when, following the aforementioned police raid, a body isbrought into the morgue that had been there previously... with chicken blood in its ear.
Kolchak’s theory is that an old woman used voodoo to resurrect her dead grandson in order to kill the mobsters that murdered him.
He stops the threat by locating the zombie "sleeping" in a hearse at the junkyard, pouring salt into his mouth, and sewing his lips shut... or at least trying. When the zombie unexpectedly awakens, Kolchak retreats, but is ultimately able to place a wire loop hanging from a crane around his neck and hang him. Kolchak strikes a match on a hubcap and lights three candles. When they extinguish, so does the zombie.
What'd you do, pester him to death?
Do you have any illnesses? Sometimes my back hurts when I hear certain stories.
Postscript: Kolchak's camera is in pieces and his proof is gone. Monique is in a cab on her way to Brooklyn. "Francois Edmonds, the deceased, was buried for a third time at public expense. A third time. However, this time rock salt was poured in his mouth, and his lips were sewn shut. City officials will deny this. But you can see it for yourself. If you'd care to venture out to St. Lucy's Cemetery and... exhume the corpse. Be my guest."
Not as effective as the previous episode, The Ripper; however, The Zombie still takes advantage of quiet moments with no dialogue to build suspense. Also, the shadow of the titular monster lifting a man over its head in a dark alley is effective. Overall, the episode may not be as strong today because it's dated by the use of African American stereotypes. Hey, it was the 70s.
The dialogue and banter are still snappy and funny, although characters other than Kolchak speak them. They count because they're directed toward him. Kolchak's use of nicknames is strong when he calls the mortician, "Gordy the Ghoul" and a gang leader, Bernard "Sweetstick" Weldon. His treatment of Monique is hilarious, yet stays sweet enough to not disparage Kolchak's character.
There are no legal implications for Kolchak at the end of the episode; it takes only about half the show for him to get tossed in jail for "grave desecration" and two other counts of something. Also, there's a different police chief in The Zombie, but still one that has a history with Kolchak. He tells him that any talk of zombies is not responsible journalism.
I may have noticed another element of the Kolchak: the Night Stalker formula. When does he have time to research his monsters? In The Ripper, we at least saw a book on the subject of Ripper Murders Through the Ages, but here, he's released from jail with the knowledge of voodoo. I exaggerate, but I do think Kolchak comes into it with some existing knowledge about the supernatural and occult. What's his backstory?!?
This weeks notable television guest appearances (September 20-26, 2019):
Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Ralph Meeker, Phyllis Thaxter (21st), Rip Torn (23rd), Claude Rains (24th), Alan Napier (25th-26th), David Wayne (26th)
Land of the Giants: Alan Hale (29th)
The Outer Limits: Nick Adams (25th), Macdonald Carey (26th), Sam Wanamaker (27th)
Thriller: Elizabeth Montgomery, Tom Poston, John Carradine, Phyllis Thaxter (30th)
The Time Tunnel: Carroll O'Connor (29th)
The Twilight Zone: Dub Taylor (23rd), Lloyd Bochner (24th), Nancy Kulp (25th), Richard Long (27th)
Wonder Woman: Beatrice Straight (21st)