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This review appears direct to the web courtesy of THE CINEMA LASER.



When it debuted on television in 1971, THE NIGHT STALKER ($35) was the highest rated television movie of all time. This well above average TV movie deserves that notable place in history because it is a stylish and scary outing. THE NIGHT STALKER also introduced us to Darren McGavin’s best remembered role- as newspaper reporter Carl Kolchak. Many consider THE NIGHT STALKER to be the precursor to, if not the inspiration for THE X-FILES since it depicts supernatural happenings in a realistic, and almost documentary fashion. THE NIGHT STALKER holds up well, 25 years after its debut, because Richard Matheson’s screenplay is realistic, funny and scary- heck, the darn thing is nearly perfect. Another reason THE NIGHT STALKER has held up is because John Llewellyn Moxey’s direction is sharp and effective.

The plot of THE NIGHT STALKER finds former big time reporter Carl Kolchak down on his luck and working on a small Las Vegas newspaper. Kolchak balks at his latest assignment, which is to report on an ordinary day old murder. With a little digging, Kolchak discovers that the murder is anything but ordinary, since the victim’s body has been completely drained of blood. After the next murder, Kolchak becomes convinced that the murderer thinks he’s a vampire. A few murderers later, Kolchak’s convinced that the murderer really is a vampire! Thanks to Darren McGavin’s portrayal, the character of Carl Kolchak has become an enduring horror icon. Kolchak has the tenacity of a bloodhound, and he’s as annoying as fingernails on a blackboard- yet McGavin makes the character completely lovable. In addition to McGavin, the cast of THE NIGHT STALKER also features Carol Lynley, Simon Oakland, Ralph Meeker, Claude Akins, Charles McGraw, Barry Atwater, Kent Smith, Larry Linville, Elisha Cook, Jr. and Stanley Adams.

THE NIGHT STALKER looks better on Laserdisc than it does when it shows up on late night television, and fairly close to the way it looked in 1971. The transfer has good detail and acceptable color, with the film stock available in the early 1970’s as the limiting factor. Flesh tones are a bit pale at times and the rest of colors tend to favor earth tones, which the early 70’s film stocks tended to do. The digital monaural soundtrack is clear and worth amplifying for Robert Corbert’s creepy music. The Pioneer pressing was clean and side two is encoded in CAV.

THE NIGHT STALKER is a great television movie, and a real horror classic. It certainly gets a wholehearted recommendation. Let’s hope that 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will follow up this release with THE NIGHT STRANGLER, the equally entertaining sequel to THE NIGHT STALKER.


Laserdisc reviews are Copyright 1996 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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