The world-weary, hard-nosed reporter has fashioned many Hollywood scripts and inspired dozens of top-notch performances, though my own intrepid newshound is hardly a household name.
Darren McGavin's Carl Kolchak was battling vampires, werewolves and God-knows-what-else in his own X Files, years before Mulder and Scully hit town. A 20 episode American tv series (1974-75) remains absolutely essential viewing, though the story really begins with "The Night Stalker" tv movie.
Based on a then-unpublished novel, Richard Matheson's teleplay constructs a deliciously eerie case study: four Las Vegas casino girls have been murdered, their bodies drained of blood with teeth marks and human saliva in evidence. When a fifth girl is abducted, Kolchak uses his network of contacts to close in on the killer, while the police and publicity-shy D.A. unite to keep the truth off the front page; the truth being spritely Janos Skorzeny (Barry Atwater) has spent decades touring the world, leaving a trail of bloodless corpses in his wake, while sheltering under a string of pseudonyms (the surname Belasko will be instantly familiar to admirers of "The Legend Of Hell House" - also scripted by Matheson). Natrually, this tv movie is, by its very status, unable to focus on the gory overtones of its subject matter but still manages to score highly on the Shock-ometer. Kudos must also go to the excellent cast: McGavin having a ball with his infuriatingly smug, extremely passionate character; Simon Oakland as the hapless, helpless editor; Elisha Cook Jr scaring the crap out of C.K. en-route to providing valuable information and the under-used Carol Lynley as Kolchak's wallpaper.
The pairing of Moxey and producer Dan Curtis paid big dividends and it's a credit to all concerned that "The Night Stalker" still holds up as superior fright fare.
DVD consumers should be aware this classic 70s movie can be found on an Anchor Bay disc, forming a terrific double-bill with "The Night Strangler".
Picture quality is outstanding, so grab a copy before it goes oop.