The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler

I watched “The Night Stalker,” which was a very popular TV movie back in 1972.  A lot of elements came together to make it good, like the writing of Richard Matheson with the casting of Darren McGavin and Simon Oakland.  Carol Lynley added some appeal to the movie, too, as she did with “The Poseidon Adventure.”  I hadn’t noticed before that Larry Linville was in this movie.  He gave a medical report on one of the murder victims.  One thing that is really great is that the vampire is believable as a strong person who can toss people around.  I was never too clear on why a vampire would break into hospital supplies of blood because I thought that the taste of the kill was part of what kept vampires going.  Some of the blood apparently came from Christopher George’s character in “The Immortal.”  The sequence at the house at the end was impressive, except for when Kolchak stumbles and drops the cross, which felt contrived.  One of the actors had appeared in “The Maltese Falcon” way back when.  I thought the setting of Las Vegas added quite a bit to the picture.  “The Night Strangler” followed the earlier movie in many ways.  It did have Jo Ann Pflug, who was good in her role.  John Carradine, Wally Cox, and Al Lewis were in the cast.  Margaret Hamilton of “The Wizard of Oz” was a professor who told him about the youth elixir.  I didn’t know that Carol Wayne had a sister, Nina, who is in this movie.  There is a strong resemblance between the two of them.  The setting is Seattle, and there was a good shot of Kolchak riding a train.  I wonder what they did in the planning for that shot.  The scenes are familiar from the first film.  We have an incredible story that no one can believe, and Kolchak questions the effectiveness of the police in the investigation.  In both movies, Kolchak tells someone to wait 30 minutes before calling police as he checks out a scene.  Kolchak’s logic about what constitutes proof, or even facts, is questionable.  He was a reporter who needed someone to put him in his place.  It’s hard to succeed at something twice.  This movie clearly doesn’t come close to the suspense of the original film.  Maybe Matheson should have written something completely new.  I thought the third planned movie, “The Night Killers,” was a better idea than the TV series.  How many times can the same person encounter supernatural events?  The original movie was one of those fun things you remember from the 1970s.  The memory of it is still very strong among people who saw it on January 11, 1972.  I wondered what happened to Jeff Rice, the writer who created Carl Kolchak.  His career sank after the legal tangle involving the Night Stalker television series.  He suffered from depression.  He died on July 1, 2015 at age 71 in Las Vegas.  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for May 30, The Beatles had the Number One single in 1964, “Love Me Do.”  In 1968, The Beatles began recording The White Album.  In 1973, the George Harrison album “Living in the Material World” was released.  In 1978, Led Zeppelin began recording their final album, “In Through the Out Door.”   In 1989, Margaret Ray pleaded guilty to breaking into David Letterman’s house.  In 1992, Paul Simon married Edie Brickell.  Clint Walker turned 90 today.

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