Classic Television Thursday #45 – The Night Stalker (1972)

ns1Halloween is fast approaching, so I thought I’d spend a little time revisiting one of my personal all-time favorite horror TV series, The Night Stalker.

The Night Stalker actually began its life as a made-for-TV movie adaptation by Richard Matheson of an unpublished novel by Jeff Rice entitled The Kolchak Papers. The story involves Las Vegas based reporter Carl Kolchak tracking down what he believes to be a serial killer terrorizing the city by night. Soon, however, despite the denials, disbelief, and obstruction of both the police and city officials, Kolchak becomes convinced that what they are facing is not just a run-of-the-mill insane human, but an actual vampire.

Produced by television veteran Dan Curtis who is perhaps best known for another great vampire-centric show, Dark Shadows, The Night Stalker stars Darren McGavin as Kolchak. McGavin proved to be perfect for the role bringing to it a balance of drama and humor which keeps it entertaining throughout.

Also of note is Simon Oakland, who plays Tony Vincenzo, Kolchak’s ever-put-upon editor who does his best to restrain the reporter but can never quite manage to. The interplay and obvious chemistry between McGavin and Oakland proved so great that even though the follow-up TV movie The Night Strangler moved its locale to Seattle, a reason was found to bring Vincenzo along, too.

The Night Stalker proved to be an immediate hit, scoring a 33.2 Neilson rating and a 54 share (meaning that 54% of American households tuned in), so it was inevitable that, as noted above, there would be a sequel. We’ll take a look at that next time, but for now sit back and enjoy The Night Stalker.





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