“The Night Stalker” (1972) starring Darren McGavin / Z-View

The Night Stalker (1972)

Director:  John Llewellyn Moxey

Screenplay by:  Richard Matheson based on THE KOLCHAK PAPERS by Jeff Rice 

Starring: Darren McGavin, Carol Lynley, Simon Oakland, Ralph Meeker, Claude Akins, Charles McGraw, Kent Smith, Stanley Adams, Larry Linville, Jordan Rhodes, Barry Atwater, Edward Faulkner, Buddy Joe Hooker and Elisha Cook Jr..

Tagline: A vampire killer loose in Las Vegas? It’s hard to believe, isn’t it?

The Story: 

A serial killer in Las Vegas continues to leave victims drained of blood.  Reporter Carl Kolchak (McGavin) believes that the murderer believes he’s a vampire.  When Kolchak turns in an article saying that, he is called into a meeting with his editor and the police.  Kolchak’s story is rejected.  His editor thinks it would tarnish the paper’s reputation.  The police think it would panic the public.

What everyone doesn’t know, but will learn – the killer is a vampire!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

The Night Stalker was released as an ABC Movie of the Week in 1972.  I was 11 years old and couldn’t wait to see it. I wasn’t the only one.  The Night Stalker became the highest rated tv movie up to that point.  The following year, Kolchak returned when The Night Strangler was released.  Kolchak: The Night Stalker was then adapted into a television series.  It lasted one season, but became a cult classic.

The Night Stalker was produced by Dan “Dark Shadows” Curtis.  It features an outstanding cast considering it was a made-for-tv movie.  Darren McGavin is Carl Kolchak.  It was cool to see him play the character in two movies and the television series.  Carol Lynley doesn’t have much to do as Kolchak’s girlfriend.  Ralph Meeker has a nice role as Kolchak’s buddy on the force.  The Night Stalker is filled with great character actors including Simon Oakland, Claude Akins, Charles McGraw, Kent Smith and Stanley Adams. Even Elisha Cook Jr. gets a cameo!

I loved The Night Stalker when I was a kid.  A recent rewatch was fun.  The Night Stalker rates 3 of 5 stars.