Kolchak Review

Kolchak: The Night Stalker was an American television series. It was created by Jeff Rice during the 70s.  The series had a combination of science fiction, supernatural, horror and thriller elements.   This TV series came after two TV movies, The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler in 1971 and 1975, respectively. The Kolchak TV series was then cancelled after one season because of its average ratings.  Originally, the show had 26 episodes, but only completed 20 episodes.  The unexceptional ratings of the show made its star unhappy and so it was cancelled.

The novel “The Kolchak Papers” by Jeff Rice was the inspiration to the two TV movies and the series.  It was opted to have a title “The Kolchak Chronicles”.  Alternatively, the said novel was really intended to be shown on screen, so it was not published until the two movies were shown on TV.  The original novel was then published by Pocket Books as a popular paperback with the title “The Night Stalker”, with Darren McGavin’s photo on its cover.  The second movie was also novelized, written also by Jeff Rice and was based on the original script of Richard Matheson.  The said novel was republished as an anthology edition in 2007 by Moonstone, entitled “The Kolchak Papers”.

Kolchak The Night Stalker

The Night Stalker was then made into a script by Richard Matheson.  It was directed by a theatrical and TV movie veteran, John Llewllyn Moxey and produced by Dan Curtis.  The said movie became the highest rated original movie of ABC.  It was the first ever TV movie that had 54 shares and 33.2 ratings.  The said movie gave Matheson an Edgar Award for Best TV Feature or Miniseries Teleplay in 1973.

The Night Stalker was broadcasted on January 11 1972.  It is a story about an investigative journalist.  A series of murders made Carl Kolchak (the investigative journalist) believe that a serial killer is lurking around The Strip of Las Vegas.  He wrote a story about his suspected serial killings, but the authorities held it back.  Kolchak suspected that the killer was a vampire.  Precisely, his suspicions were real when he saw with his own eyes evidences of a real vampire.  In this movie, he took down the vampire killer by himself. Yet, he lost his job and his girlfriend (who was earning a living as a dancer and was later on blackmailed by the police).

The second movie was aired on January 19, 1973. The second movie was entitled “The Night Strangler”.  In this movie, Carl Kolchak moved in to Seattle since he had no reason to be in Las Vegas. Kolchak was then hired by his old editor, Tony Vincenzo who assigned him to take on a story of another series of killings.  All the victims of the killings were exotic dancers, whose necks were crushed because of strangulation and as well as a few ounces of blood drained from their bodies.

Kolchak together with the help of a researcher named Titus Barry discovered that the murders recur every 21 years.  The killer is an elixir of life and a surgeon in Westside Mercy Hospital during the Civil War, named Dr. Richard Malcolm.  Kolchak found a painting of the doctor who was the living image of a Dr. Malcom Richards, the founder of the clinic where Kolchak went to hoping to find old hospital records. Kolchak was then set to chase the killer before he completes his elixir and disappear again. Due to limitations on time, some scenes on the second movie was cut.

In September 29 2005, the Night Stalker series was aired again on ABC but was cancelled on November 14 2005 because of low ratings.  The series was available in DVD on that same year.  Also, Kolchak’s character was acknowledged in the show by The X-Files creator, Chris Carter.  He mentioned on an interview that 30% of his show was indeed inspired by the Kolchak series.  In order to pay tribute to Kolchak, Carter named a character “Richard Matheson” appeared in several episodes of X-files.  However, McGavin appeared in several episodes of Carter’s series as a retired FBI agent named Arthur Dales as the “father of the X-files”.