Fuck yeah! Let's do this! I guess I should explain what I'm so enthusiastic about. I'm popping my skitterminks over made-for-TV horror films from the 70's. Again, I say fuck yeah! There has been much foofaraw in the Coccaro household concerning box-shaped fright fare in the past. It wasn't too long ago that I was losing my shit thanks to The Norliss Tapes. As for Kolchak: The Night Stalker, I am just now getting my feet wet. I have seen a couple of episodes, but I wanted to snoop through the original "pilot movie" before sinking my vessel any deeper into these fiend-infested waters. To be clear, this is a review of the 1972 telepic. PLAY AT HOME: Between "foofaraw" and "skitterminks," only one word is real. Can you guess which lexeme I made up?
If you don't know, Carl Kolchak is a brassy journalist who has bounced around from newspaper to newspaper. He has nested and acquired a livelihood in every major city in the United States. We open with our urbane host recounting the events of The Night Stalker in the form of a narrated flashback. Some deranged fuck is killing a thicket of women, and if that wasn't bad enough, he (or she; I shouldn't presume) is draining their bodies of blood. I know what you must be thinking. If I were in charge of the investigation, I would also predicate the feasibility of a defrosted Archaeopteryx uprising, but as it happens, the wrongdoer is a vampire. Y'know, like Dracula or Vampirella. I'll be damned.
This fanged freewheeler doesn't reinvent garlic, but it relies on tried-and-true storytelling to grab the viewer by the collar. The Richard Matheson-penned script gives Darren McGavin plenty of room to stretch his acting muscles. Even the minor players are developed to a sufficient extent. I dug the fact that Kolchak isn't quite the hard-boiled flouter you would expect to dock a genre undertaking as gritty as The Night Stalker. He instills whimsy and a quaint humor into his performance that breathes life into the exposition, not that there are copious slumps in the pacing department. Director John Llewellyn Moxy (of Horror Hotel fame) nudges his picture along at a taut, secure clip.
I've made a nasty habit out of spoiling endings lately, but don't worry your pretty little head. Kolchak: The Night Stalker's secret is safe with me. I will say that the closing scenes deliver a sober kick to the meat pouch. And a meat pouch could be anything from a stripper's stomach to a bandicoot's vagina. A bandicoot stripper's stomach vagina? Me, oh my. Sleep deprivation has prodded me into David Cronenberg's terrain. Point me to the nearest exit sign. Package all of that with a sweet villain, and presto! You've got a balanced, albeit abbreviated horror trip. Gore is a non-factor, but hey, it was a tube release. Cut it a shred of slack, huh?
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 2:40 PM