THE NIGHT STRANGLER (1973)
Article #1224 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-21-2004
Posting Date: 12-18-2004
Directed by Dan Curtis
Featuring Darren McGavin, Jo Ann Pflug, Simon Oakland
Kolchak covers a series of strangulation murders which point to a killer who may be more than one hundred years old.
I first became familiar with Carl Kolchak via the TV series, and when I watched THE NIGHT STALKER for the first time many years after this, I was slightly put off by the differences in Kolchak’s character from that movie in comparison to how he would later develop. The Kolchak here is much closer to the one of the series, and this TV-movie plays somewhat like an extended episode of the series, though I would have to say that it does a better job of building the tension, especially during the final fifteen minutes. Darren McGavin and Simon Oakland are excellent as usual here, and it’s a great deal of fun watching Carl Kolchak interact with characters played by the likes of John Carradine, Wally Cox, Al Lewis, and the wicked witch herself, Margaret Hamilton. That was one of the joys I’ve always had from the Kolchak series; though the character of Kolchak is one the greatest and most memorable I’ve ever encountered, the stories never relied solely on his appeal, but were peopled by other strong and interesting characters. The basic story is a variation on THE MAN IN HALF MOON STREET, and the cast also included Jo Ann Pflug and Richard Anderson.