The Night Stalker (1971)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

In this TV thriller, newspaper reporter Carl Kolchak is assigned to the Las Vegas police beat. Kolchak is covering a series of murders where the victims have had the blood drained from their bodies, and he can't believe the evidence he's gleaned: There can't possibly be a vampire stalking Las Vegas.
Comedy , Horror , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
MCA Universal Home Video


Darren McGavin
as Carl Kolchak
Carol Lynley
as Gail Foster
Simon Oakland
as Vincenzo
Ralph Meeker
as Bernie Jenks
Claude Akins
as Sheriff Butcher
Charles McGraw
as Chief Masterson
Kent Smith
as D.A. Paine
Stanley Adams
as Fred Hurley
Elisha Cook Jr.
as Mickey Crawford
Larry Linville
as Makurji
Jordan Rhodes
as Dr. O'Brien
Barry Atwater
as Janos Skorzeny
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Critic Reviews for The Night Stalker

All Critics (7)

Love this campy retro-stuff!

July 15, 2004
Blunt Review

Darren McGavin is delicious in bringing his character to life as the wisecracking reporter, who has a nose for trouble, truth and film legend.

Full Review… | February 18, 2004
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Top-notch vampire story and newspaper comedy that spawned a top-notch sequel and series.

November 24, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

One of the scarier made-for-TV movies.

October 31, 2002
Lawrence Journal-World

Quote not available.

November 3, 2005

Quote not available.

September 26, 2005

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.

Matthew James
Matthew James

While slow and a bit muddled, The Night Stalker ultimately succeeds in becoming an effectively tense horror movie.

September Observer
September Observer

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

David Ladd
David Ladd

Super Reviewer

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