The Night Stalker (1972)

Article #612 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 11-17-2002
Posting date: 4-13-2003

A vampire is loose in Las Vegas, and an ambitious reporter attempts to get the authorities to realize what they are dealing with.

The first time I had a chance to see this in its entirety was long after I had been familiar with the Kolchak character throught the TV series, and I found certain aspects of the original TV-Movie to be somewhat jarring, particularly the fact that Kolchak had a girlfriend; this has more to do with the nature of a TV series (where you gain a certain intimacy with a character who you see week after week) versus that of a movie (in which your total experience with a character is most likely for the length of that movie). Produced by Dan Curtis, and with an excellent script by Richard Matheson, this movie took an unusual approach to the vampire story, putting special emphasis on the aspects of how the police and the government would handle a series of murders that belong more to the world of legend rather than the more mundane criminals they usually deal with. Still, it is Darren McGavin who steals the whole movie, with a character who is something of a modern version of the wise-cracking reporters so common in the thirties, but updated and given dimension to flesh him out; he is unforgettable. The movie also establishes Kolchak’s perpetual boss/antagonist, Simon Oakland as Tony Vincenzo, his editor, who, though something of a minor character here, would be the only character in the movie that would follow Kolchak through his later investigations. The vampire is played by Barry Atwater, and I couldn’t help but note that one of the many aliases of the vampire was Bela Blasko, the true name of Bela Lugosi.


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