"Chapter One. This is the story behind one of the greatest manhunts in history. Maybe you read about it, or rather what they let you read about it, probably in some minor news item buried somewhere in the back page. However, what happened in that city between May 16th and May 28th of this year was so incredible that to this day the facts have been suppressed in a massive effort to save certain political careers from disaster and law enforcement officials from embarrassment. This will be the last time I will ever discuss these events with anyone, so, when you have finished this bizarre account, judge for yourself its believability, and try to tell yourself, wherever you may be, it couldn't happen here."
With those words, played over a reporter's cassette recorder, the world was first introduced to Carl Kolchak
, played by Darren McGavin, in the made for TV movie The Night Stalker
(1972). The story, written by Richard Matheson and based on the novel by Jeff Rice, followed the reporter as he tracked a vampire in Las Vegas, a vampire only he believed existed. That film became one of the highest rated TV movies in history and quickly led to a sequel film, The Night Strangler
(1973), and the short lived series Kolchak: The Night Stalker
Kolchak tackled every story, no matter how bizarre, determined to reveal the facts and uncover the truth no matter how unbelievable they may turn out to be. Each time though, he is forced to see his stories edited beyond recognition or completed squashed by his superiors, politicians, government agencies and law enforcement either to hide their own wrongs or save them from embarrassment. To Kolchak the truth must be told, because as "Dr. Van Helsing" says in the 1931 film Dracula
, "The strength of the vampire is that people will not believe in him."or as the character of "Verbal Kent" in The Usual Suspects
says, "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."
Through all three incarnations Darren McGavin played Kolchak, and Simon Oakland his beleaguered boss, Tony Vincenzo
. When the show went to series, the recurring cast included Ruth McDevitt as Miss Emily Cowles
and Jack Grinnage as Ron "Uptight" Updyke
. The series was filled with appearances by several of Hollywood's greatest character actors including, Scatman Crothers, Dick Van Patten, Larry Storch, Dick Gautier, Bob Hastings, Richard Keil, Keenan Wynn, Phil Silvers, Tom Bosley and Jim Backus to name a few, as well as future stars like Jamie Farr, Tom Skerritt, and Erik Estrada.
The series, although only 20 episodes in length, has developed a strong and continuous following since it originally aired over 30 years ago. Two unproduced scripts, "The Get Of Belial" and "Eve of Terror", were turned into graphic novels by MOONSTONE COMICS, who have also published several more "new" stories in an ongoing comic book series. Creator Chris Carter frequently cites Kolchak
as his inspiration for the hit series The X-Files
and even included McGavin in a few episodes.
8/10 (1 Vote cast)