• Classic Horrors Club

TV Terror Guide: Kolchak the Night Stalker (The Sentry)




Air Date: Mar. 28, 1975

Written by: L. Ford Neale & John Huff

Directed by: Seymour Robbie

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Monster of the Week: Crocodile-person

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Kolchak suspects the supernatural when he witnesses an autopsy of a second victim and concludes that the deep puncture marks, like teeth, indicate he was "bitten to death by a crocodile."

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Kolchak’s theory is never verbalized, although he tries unsuccessfully to convince the authorities that "something is out there."

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He stops the threat by surrendering the creature's egg nest.

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Quotes:

Kindness! That woman is about as kind as a Sturmbannführer.

Postscript:

Kolchak says the he knows what's going to happen: the authorities will not admit that anything occurred. But he doesn't know what's going to happen to "the sentry" or its eggs.


Comments:

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As I assess the final episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, I find myself reflecting on the entire series. I feel my original generalization about the "Monster of the Week" formula was accurate only to an extent. Yes, there was usually a different supernatural threat each week; however, many episodes were flexible with the accompanying tropes. Take The Sentry for example...

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For the first time, an episode begins with the climax of the story, then flashes back to reveal how Kolchak found himself deep in an underground tunnel fearing for his life because, "it's after me." The familiar narration doesn't begin immediately. Instead, Kolchak is speeding down a long, industrial hallway on a golf cart, constantly looking over his shoulder, suspenseful music blaring.

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It's exciting, as is most of the episode (one of only a couple), which highlights the adventure rather than the humor. In fact, there's only one short scene at INS and it's only with Tony. Updyke and Miss Emily are nowhere to be found. Therefore, there's not as much comic relief and a notable lack of memorable quotes. It's a little sad because we've seen the last that we'll ever see of those great characters.

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There's also a change in Kolchak's foil from the police department. This time it's Lieutenant Irene Lamont (Kathie Browne, star Darren McGavin's wife in real life), a woman whose kindness and beauty seem to cloud the judgement of the men she encounters. That is, except for Kolchak, who sees through the façade and isn't shy about saying so.

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The Sentry is a descendant of the creatures from The Alligator People, bipeds with enormous crocodile heads. Only in quick flashes do you see how silly it looks. Otherwise, first-time Kolchak director Seymour Robbie is creative about hiding it. For example, one rampage begins with a relatively clear shot of it, then it becomes engulfed in shadows as it knocks out the lights one by one along its way. (One close-up looks really good!)

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This is not an episode that represents the best that Kolchak: The Night Stalker had to offer. However, it belongs among the last several that are just plain fun. There's no sense criticizing it or blaming it in any way for the end of the series. I like it because, as goofy as the creature could be, the threat of danger is real and it's even a little scary.

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