The Night Stalker (1971)
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as Carl Kolchak
as Gail Foster
as Bernie Jenks
as Sheriff Butcher
as Chief Masterson
as D.A. Paine
as Fred Hurley
as Mickey Crawford
as Dr. O'Brien
as Janos Skorzeny
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Critic Reviews for The Night Stalker
Love this campy retro-stuff!
Darren McGavin is delicious in bringing his character to life as the wisecracking reporter, who has a nose for trouble, truth and film legend.
Top-notch vampire story and newspaper comedy that spawned a top-notch sequel and series.
One of the scarier made-for-TV movies.
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Audience Reviews for The Night Stalker
Despite strong performances from all involved "The Night Stalker" is a deathly repetitive story. The killer strikes, Kolchak sees the body, argues with the police, argues with the editor and than it all loops. Never-the-less it's an entertaining enough piece and the ending is very creepy and atmospheric.
While slow and a bit muddled, The Night Stalker ultimately succeeds in becoming an effectively tense horror movie.
When a skeptical reporter named Carl Kolchak gets involved in covering a murder spree in Las Vegas he ends up with more than he bargained for. His hopes for getting a huge story that will propel him back to the "big time" in New York City seems to happening for him as the bloodless bodies start to pile up around the Vegas strip. After continually butting heads with the local authorities, after he figures out that there must be an actual vampire stalking the streets, they finally give in. Kolchak helps them to track down and kill the creature, but doesn't get his big story. They double cross him and threaten to throw him in jail for murder (he staked the vampire himself) if he even thinks about publishing the story. Not only that but they run him and his girlfriend out of town as undesirables! It surprises me how many horror fans aren't even aware of the Kolchak movies and the TV series that they spawned. The story is very well written and paced nicely, which shouldn't be a surprise. Genre and TV veteran Richard Matheson is credited with writing the screenplay for the movie. The vampire story is a cool combination of classic (super strength, afraid of crosses, and of course the stake in the heart) and contemporary (using his mental powers on a used car salesman, robbing blood banks). The television movie also does a great job of building tension and paying it off with a couple of "jump" scares that work. Plus I can't say enough about what a great idea the Las Vegas setting is. I mean where would any modern day vampire want to hang out at more than Vegas. What can you say about a cast that is headlined by the wonderful and always great Darrin McGavin. Not only is he great in the role, but he really makes it his own! His performance as the headstrong, grouchy, reporter is the heart of the show and why it succeeded (and why the heartless redo failed!). The rest of the cast is filled out with TV and genre regulars like Larry Linville, Simon Oakland, Claude Akins, and the great Elisha Cook Jr. This strong supporting cast only makes the movie that much better and more enjoyable. This is a network movie of the early 70s and looks like it. Shot on film like a low budget movie it captures the flashy colors of the Vegas Strip and the dark shadows of Vegas's back alleys equally well. A modern audience might notice the lack of gore and effects, but this was shot for television and is more about the story and characters, so cut it some slack. There are several well-done fight scenes between the police and the vampire, particularly one outside a hospital that is pretty damn cool. Bottom line for me is that this is a classic. When it comes to horror that was shot for TV it just doesn't get any better than Kolchak the Night Stalker. Highly recommended
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