• Classic Horrors Club

TV Terror Guide: Kolchak the Night Stalker (The Knightly Murders)


Air Date: Mar. 7, 1975

Written by: Michael Kozoll & David Chase

Story by: Paul A. Magistretti

Directed by: Vincent McEveety

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Monster of the Week: Reanimated black knight

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Kolchak is supposed to be covering the death of Brewster Hocking.

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Kolchak suspects the supernatural when the suit of armor he witnessed in an attack is too small to fit the number one suspect.

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Kolchak’s theory is that an ancient knight that hated human pleasures, became a pariah and dabbled in the black arts, has returned to kill those involved in transforming a museum into a discotheque.

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He stops the threat by swinging a blessed axe and hitting the black knight.

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Quotes:

But a knight... in armor? Make me believe that, Carl, because if I find you're shooting me through the grease, it'll have a definite detrimental effect on how we interface with each other. (Capt. Vernon Rausch)
I wouldn't give you another piece of information if you held me down and let a pack of rats run through my clothes willy-nilly. (Mendel Boggs)
Well, Captain, in a manner of speaking, two gentlemen are dead of two very bizarre means - an oversized arrow and an obese ice pick. Now I cannot minimize the concern that I have that these murders are somehow interrelated, if for no other reason than that you're handling the investigations of both
Carl, neighbors heard screams, and we find you camped out here on the floor and a woman ax-murdered right in there. If I were you, I'd have a big tension headache. (Capt. Vernon Rausch
You are a man who has resorted to lies and chicanery to the point of being pathological. I believe that you suffer from autosuggestion; and, in an obsessive desire to win approval expressed through the need for a big story, you convince yourself that what you want to be true IS true. In short... I believe your brain has turned to onion dip. (Capt. Vernon Rausch)

Postscript:

A blessed battle-ax and an iron suit full of thin air. I knew I'd have a lot of explaining to do to the owners of the Hydecker Museum, to Captain Vernon Rausch, and, of course, to my own beloved bureau chief, A. Vincenzo. There wouldn't be much I could tell them, except what I'll tell you. It all really happened.

Comments:

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In this episode, Kolchak faces something perhaps worse than a monster: Captain Vernon Rausch. At first, it’s a refreshing change of pace to have someone from the police department actually listening to what Kolchak has to say and inviting him to join the investigation. Before long, though, it’s clear that Rausch enjoys listening to himself talk more than anyone else and may just be resting on the laurels he’s collected over the years as a decorated cop.

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With 287 film and television credits, chances are you recognize actor John Dehner. He’s the highlight of the episode as he pushes buttons we didn’t know Kolchak had. Darren McGavin shines even more than usual as he gets to exercise familiar emotions and reactions, yet in a different context. It’s also ironic that although he’s included more than ever in an investigation, he seems to end up doing more investigating on his own than ever before.

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Granted, it’s a unique threat. Evidence quickly points to medieval weapons as the murder weapons and Kolchak witnesses an attack by the black knight fairly early in the episode. However, this could simply be a human being wearing a suit of armor. Kolchak doesn’t suspect the supernatural until later than usual. In fact, I don’t believe it’s until the last act when the armor does not fit the number one suspect that Kolchak smells something fishy.

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I’m enjoying these later episodes much more than I thought I would. I have either squinted my critical eye a little bit, or have finally accepted the show for what it is. For me, what it is, is a lot of fun. We know and love the characters more and most everything they do rings true and elicits a smile, if not an outright guffaw. Kolchak: The Night Stalker isn’t necessarily a series that fosters character development from beginning to end, but it remains true to them. To know them is to love them.

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