Friday Favorites – Kolchak: The Night Stalker

One of my favorite memories growing up was watching the seemingly bumbling reporter Carl Kolchak meet a different mystery or monster (or both) each week on Kolchak: The Night Stalker, which ran from September 1974 to March of 1975. Of course, the series was a spin-off from two successful TV movies, The Night Stalker (1972) and The Night Stranger (1973), produced by Dan Curtis. Curtis was done with the character but the studio and star Darren McGavin wanted to continue so the series started without Curtis. It only lasted one season but for us young monster kids, it made quite the impact. The charm about Kolchak was that he was just as scared about what was going on as anybody else, but knew he had to do what was right. Also, nobody ever believed him! As a kid, that really hit home because parents would never believe what their kids told them. Here was this guy that was trying to tell people there really was a monster out there, only to be laughed at.

McGavin made a character that just seemed real to me, even as a kid. His constant arguments with his boss Vincenzo, played wonderfully by Simon Oakland, was always funny, but could never understand why he wouldn’t believe Kolchak! The series also had a who’s who of stars of that era, from Julie Adams, Phil Silvers, William Smith, Cathy Lee Crosby, John Marley, to even Richard Kiel!

There were 20 episodes of the original series, which I have listed below. For today’s Friday Favorite, not including the two TV movies, let’s hear which episode of the series would you consider your favorite? The Chopper, with the headless motorcyclist? Maybe the giant Indian in Bad Medicine? Or the robotic terror in Mr. Ring?  Let’s here it!

The Ripper
The Zombie
They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be…
The Vampire
The Werewolf
Firefall
The Devil’s Platform
Bad Medicine
The Spanish Moss Murders
The Energy Eater
Horror in the Heights
Mr. R.I.N.G.
Primal Scream
The Trevi Collection
Chopper
Demon in Lace
Legacy of Terror
The Knightly Murders
The Youth Killer
The Sentry

6 thoughts on “Friday Favorites – Kolchak: The Night Stalker

  1. I’ll start with the controversial declaration that I prefer the second movie, The Night Strangler, over the original, The Night Stalker. Directed by Dan Curtis, is has more of a theatrical feel and is scarier than the first.

    As for the episodes, I’m partial to Horror in the Heights, written by Jimmy Sangster. It features the Rakshasha, a demon that can possess the human mind and cause its victims to see it as someone they trust… so that it can eat them. Interestingly, the episode relies less on the tropes of the series and more on the specifics of the story.

    Plus, it highlights the relationship between Kolchak and Miss Emily. I love the quote from the postcript:

    “I’d have liked to have told Miss Emily that the Rakshasha appeared to me as her. According to the legend it meant that I trusted her. But then I would also have had to tell her that I shot a steel arrow straight into her. I don’t think she would have appreciated that.”

    If you’re interested, I did a weekly series on my blog looking at each of the episodes. You can find it at classichorrors.club in the TV Terror Guide category.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I would have to agree with Jeff from Classic Horrors, and go with Horror in the Heights. I loved the idea that it looks like someone you trust. But a close second would be The Spanish Moss Murders. That shot when the cop catches a quick glimpse of something moving into the alley really stayed with me as a kid!

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  3. I have good memories of watching the TV series when it first premiered, as well as both Made for TV Movies (they just don’t make ’em like they used to!). My favorite would have to be “The Ripper”. (maybe because I’ve held a long time fascination with Jack the Ripper) I was pretty gripped when Kolchak finally confronts the villain on his home turf and is chased outside for the finale. Second place would go to “Horror in the Heights”, followed by “Spanish Moss Murders”.

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    • I think about every 2-3 years, I get the need to revisit the entire series, which is what brought this question on. Now it’s got me thinking I need to go through Night Gallery. Who knows… maybe another question for Friday Favorites?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. In reflection of all the ensuing inspirations from The Omega Factor to The X-Files, Kolchak was an agreeable impact for a time when such supernatural and paranormal events were dependent on a uniquely brave investigator of his distinction. Because today, even with all that’s most profoundly acceptable about the paranormal, the bravery to think and look outside the box is iconic and that’s what Kolchak will always symbolize.

    Liked by 1 person

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