Kolchak: The Night Stalker (tv)

The Boston Phoenix

DIRECTED BY: Erik Estrada

REVIEWED: 10-27-97

Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1971-75). Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files, has credited this series as a prime inspiration. But Kolchak star Darren McGavin hasn't returned the favor, calling the '90s hit "humorless." The setup is similar. In every episode, newspaper reporter Karl Kolchak discovers a supernatural explanation for a string of deaths, but the evidence slips through his fingers at the end. One difference is that Kolchak doesn't cotton to conspiracy theories. The seersucker-suited, undoubtedly hard-drinking journalist just takes the vampires, werewolves, and zombies as he finds them; he would never hang out with the weirdos obsessing over crop circles or Roswell, New Mexico.

The Kolchak series consists of two 90-minute TV-movies and 20 hour-long episodes (the hour episodes are currently rerun on the Sci-Fi Channel). The pilot, about vampires in Las Vegas, was one of the highest-rated original films in television history and is relatively easy to find on video. Also widely available is a two-episode tape containing "The Ripper" and "The Vampire." A bit harder to find is what many fans consider the best story, "Horror in the Heights," about an evil spirit who can take the form of anyone's most trusted friend. When a victim comes close enough, the spirit drops the disguise and has a nice, crunchy snack. This is a classic example of low-budget horror, as even a sweet old lady could be a stand-in for this unimaginable beast.

--Robert David Sullivan

Film Vault Suggested Links
Star Trek (tv)
The Prisoner (tv)
Outer Limits (tv)

Related Merchandise
Search for related videos at Reel.com
Search for more by Erik Estrada at Reel.com
Search for related books at Amazon.com
Search for related music at Amazon.com

Rate this Film
If you don't want to vote on a film yet, and would like to know how others voted, leave the rating selection as "Vote Here" and then click the Cast Vote button.