• Classic Horrors Club

TV Terror Guide: Kolchak the Night Stalker (Legacy of Terror)


Air Date: Feb. 14, 1975

Written by: Arthur Rowe

Directed by: Don McDougall

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Monster of the Week: Aztec mummy

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Kolchak suspects the supernatural when he discovers a sarcophagus in the basement of the hotel

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Kolchak’s theory is that every 52 years, five heart sacrifices are performed to provide sustenance until the Aztec rebirth during the 2027 millennium.

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He stops the threat by stalling until Venus is finished emerging from behind the moon.

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Quotes:

Businessman? What businessman keeps a mummy in the basement and a dummy in a key staff position? (Kolchak) And as for having dummies in key staff positions, I'm as guilty as the next. (Vincenzo)
It says here the Andrews family changed their name from Arguello. And they're from Jalisco, and the hotel chain started in Veracruz. (Vincenzo) It's Ha-lisco, Tony, not Ja-lisco. (Kolchak) Oh, excuse me, Jose. I don't care if they came from Hersey City, New Hersey! There are Mexicans there too, but none of them are Aztecs. (Vincenzo)
If Chicago Bears and Green Berets aren't safe on the streets of Chicago, who is?

Postscript:

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Nanautzin goes dormant again and, although Kolchak urges that it be destroyed, the police think it's nothing but a valuable museum piece.

Comments:

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When a Marine is murdered in the opening scene of Legacy of Terror, I noted that it was death by giant chicken. Indeed, later in the episode when Kolchak is knocked down by the perpetrator, he calls it a red and yellow chicken. Such is the colorful garb worn by Aztec priests when performing ancient rituals every 52 years. Silly perhaps, but no less deadly when we learn the victims had their hearts removed with dull blades.

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It's all inconsequential when the real monster rises in the last scene of the episode: an Aztec mummy angry that its ritual has been interrupted. It's another example of effective makeup, special effects, directing, and editing. It lumbers down the steps of an indoor sports arena toward Kolchak, who has taken a tumble down the steps and is brushing himself off with his back turned to the threat. The show then takes advantage of a good jump scare that it has squandered in previous episodes.

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All this, plus a shirtless Erik Estrada, makes Legacy of Terror a strong episode. The man was certainly attractive, but demonstrates none of the particular acting skill or charisma that I assume made him a heartthrob when he later starred as Officer Frank Poncherello in CHiPs (1977-1983.) Adding to the camp value is that he wears a huge purple headdress making him more suitable as a Las Vegas showgirl than as a sacrifice victim.

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I noticed behind the closing narration that, just as Kolchak asks, "Well, all I know is I won't be around fifty years from now for the millennium. Will you?" the Aztec mummy opens his eyes for an instant before the scene fades to black. Was this an error on the scale of Dark Shadows or was it intended to indicate the mummy will return? I'd like to think it was the latter, but I feel more likely it was the former.

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