The two pilot-movies were:Night Stalker, The Night Strangler
The Night Stalker (1971)
Assigned to a murder spree in Las Vegas, Carl Kolchak discovers something so strange (vampires) that when the story comes out, he and his boss are fired (ends with them driving out of Las Vegas). Script by Richard Matheson of Twilight Zone fame and the Spielberg movie Duel. Matheson based the script on a 1970 story "The Kolchak Papers" by Jeff Rice, a reporter based in Las Vegas. Rice said that Las Vegas, a relatively remote, isolated desert community, seemed a perfect hunting-ground for vampires.
"There was a certain remoteness to Las Vegas, and in that period of time it was just an enclosed little world. I started thinking about writing a story about Las Vegas. And I'd always wanted to write a good vampire story, but I wanted to make it contemporary."
The Night Strangler (1972)
Richard Anderson guest stars as a 150 year old man who lives in an abandoned underground city beneath Seattle (a section of old town was paved over due to flooding and is now a tourist attraction). He stays immortal so long as he drains liquid from the brain of freshly-killed victims every 24 years. Also with John Carradine, Wally Cox, Margaret Hamilton. Both movies directed by Dan Curtis, who now does documentaries for A&E on alien abductions, monsters, gangsters, government cover-ups, etc.
Dan Curtis had just finished making the gothic tv series Dark Shadows and liked the concept, though he didn't think the series would make it (indeed, it was cancelled after just 20 episodes) and only directed the pilot-movies. Curtis is now trying for a Kolchak theater movie, possibly starring Bruce Willis (Darren McGavin suffered a stroke 2 years ago and died 2-25-06). "It was the perfect story," he says, "you cared about Kolchak. A guy who was down and out. In peeling the onion, you start to understand, at the same time that he does, that this is a vampire. You are hooked into this thing ... this is believable."
Darren McGavin was the only actor Dan Curtis wanted for the role, and McGavin grabbed the part over his own agent's objections. McGavin even knew what Kolchak should wear: a straw hat, seersucker off-white suit, and white sneakers (you can't get far running after/away from monsters in hard leather shoes). When the first Kolchak movie was completed and shown to a test audience on the Fox movie lot, the reaction was so good they wondered if they should have released it to theaters instead of TV. Writers of tv episodes included a guy named Robert Zemeckis. Though the series only ran 1974/75, it was popular enough to continue in late-night reruns (CBS had no talkshow at the time opposite the Tonight Show) into the 1980s.
Watch the entire pilot movies (1972 & 1973)
4 of the episodes were made into 2 movies by adding new narration (by McGavin) in the middle to tie the stories together, see Sci-Fi Movie Listings page to see if they are on this month. They are:
"Crackle of Death" (1974) about a fiery poltergeist and an American Indian bear-monster
"Demon & the Mummy" (1974) about campus athletes found next to mummified girls who've had their youth drained away and about a young man (Eric Estrada) being prepared as a Mayan human sacrifice
Night Stalker, Two Tales of Terror
Hangar 18 (1981)
Freakylinks cocreator/consulting producer Gregg Hale says the series, about young Webmasters who track down urban legends and unexplainable tales spunoff from The Blair Witch Project, was "highly influenced by The Night Stalker. There's that tongue-in-cheek quality, and also the realism that always made you afraid." Unfortunately, Freakylinks only lasted 13 episodes
The first Night Stalker movie was broadcast 1-11-72, up against Hawaii 5-0 and an NBC documentary. Yet Kolchak got the highest rating of any tv-movie made up to that time, and still ranks in the top 5 (after The Day After, Little Ladies Of The Night, The Burning Bed, and a Waltons Thanksgiving special).
"That kind of cinema verite style, that documentary approach - you can see why nearly a third of the country was tuned in to this thing and why it became such a phenomenon," says Mark Dawidziak, author of The Night Stalker Companion
From Dusk Till Dawn is just one of many movies and series that have come out following the basic premise of vampires on the loose in our modern world. The Mummy was remade recently and now a sequel is coming (you can't stop him), there have been a number of modern Werewolves and Wolfmen, all looking more modern than any 1930s version. And while modern monsters that "explained" old myths have turned up on the Stargate SG-1 tv series, one can safely assume that...SciFi Channel listings: Note: reruns of the new Night Stalker can now be seen on the SCIFI Channel: 01/15/2009 NIGHT STALKER Marathon - 08:00 AM FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HELL 09:00 AM MALUM 10:00 AM THREE 11:00 AM BURNING MAN 12:00 PM THE SOURCE - PT 1 01:00 PM THE SEA - PT 2 02:00 PM TIMELESS 03:00 PM WHAT'S THE FREQUENCY, KOLCHAK No episodes are scheduled for February No episodes of Kolchak (1970s) scheduled for November on the SCIFI channel Previous broadcasts: 07/28/2006 08:00 PM NIGHT STALKER (PILOT) 08/04/2006 08:00 PM INTO THE NIGHT 08/11/2006 08:00 PM FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HELL 08/25/2006 08:00 PM MALUM 09/08/2006 08:00 PM THREE 09/10/2006 11:00 PM NIGHT STALKER (PILOT) 09/15/2006 08:00 PM BURNING MAN 09/22/2006 08:00 PM TIMELESS 09/29/2006 06:00 PM THE SEA - PT 2 10/01/2006 11:00 PM INTO THE NIGHT 10/06/2006 06:00 PM THE SEA - PT 2 10/13/2006 06:00 PM WHAT'S THE FREQUENCY, KOLCHAK No other new Night Stalker eps scheduled to be made 11/29/2006 12:00 AM FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HELL 12/13/2006 NIGHT STALKER Marathon - 08:00 AM PILOT 09:00 AM INTO THE NIGHT 10:00 AM MALUM 11:00 AM THREE 12:00 PM BURNING MAN 01:00 PM THE SOURCE - PT 1 02:00 PM THE SEA - PT 2 03:00 PM TIMELESS 01/05/2007 NIGHT STALKER Marathon - 08:00 AM FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HELL 09:00 AM MALUM 10:00 AM THREE 11:00 AM BURNING MAN 12:00 PM THE SOURCE - PT 1 01:00 PM THE SEA - PT 2 02:00 PM TIMELESS 03:00 PM WHAT'S THE FREQUENCY, KOLCHAK 02/06/2007 NIGHT STALKER Marathon - 08:00 AM PILOT episode 09:00 AM INTO THE NIGHT 10:00 AM FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HELL 11:00 AM MALUM 12:00 PM THREE 01:00 PM BURNING MAN 02:00 PM THE SOURCE - PT 1 03:00 PM THE SEA - PT 2 03/07/2007 NIGHT STALKER Marathon - 08:00 AM FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HELL 09:00 AM MALUM 10:00 AM THREE 11:00 AM BURNING MAN 12:00 PM THE SOURCE - PT 1 01:00 PM THE SEA - PT 2 02:00 PM TIMELESS 03:00 PM WHAT'S THE FREQUENCY, KOLCHAK 05/02/2007 NIGHT STALKER Marathon - 08:00 AM PILOT 09:00 AM INTO THE NIGHT 10:00 AM FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HELL 11:00 AM MALUM 12:00 PM THREE 01:00 PM BURNING MAN 02:00 PM THE SOURCE - PT 1 03:00 PM THE SEA - PT 2 06/13/2007 NIGHT STALKER Marathon - 08:00 AM TIMELESS 09:00 AM THREE 10:00 AM BURNING MAN 11:00 AM PILOT 12:00 PM INTO THE NIGHT 01:00 PM FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HELL 02:00 PM MALUM 03:00 PM WHAT'S THE FREQUENCY, KOLCHAK 07/13/2007 NIGHT STALKER Marathon - 08:00 AM THE SOURCE - PT 1 09:00 AM THE SEA - PT 2 10:00 AM WHAT'S THE FREQUENCY, KOLCHAK 11:00 AM FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HELL 12:00 PM MALUM 01:00 PM THREE 02:00 PM BURNING MAN 03:00 PM TIMELESS 08/07/2007 NIGHT STALKER Marathon - 08:00 AM THREE 09:00 AM BURNING MAN 10:00 AM THE SOURCE - PT 1 11:00 AM THE SEA - PT 2 12:00 PM TIMELESS 01:00 PM WHAT'S THE FREQUENCY, KOLCHAK 02:00 PM PILOT 03:00 PM INTO THE NIGHT 09/10/2007 NIGHT STALKER Marathon - 08:00 AM NIGHT STALKER PILOT 09:00 AM INTO THE NIGHT 10:00 AM FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HELL 11:00 AM MALUM 12:00 PM THREE 01:00 PM BURNING MAN 02:00 PM THE SOURCE - PT 1 03:00 PM THE SEA - PT 2 10/15/2007 NIGHT STALKER Marathon - 08:00 AM THE SOURCE - PT 1 09:00 AM THE SEA - PT 2 10:00 AM TIMELESS 11:00 AM WHAT'S THE FREQUENCY, KOLCHAK 12:00 PM NIGHT STALKER PILOT 01:00 PM INTO THE NIGHT 02:00 PM FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HELL 03:00 PM MALUM 11/27/2007 NIGHT STALKER Marathon - 08:00 AM NIGHT STALKER PILOT 09:00 AM INTO THE NIGHT 10:00 AM FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HELL 11:00 AM THREE 12:00 PM BURNING MAN 01:00 PM TIMELESS 02:00 PM WHAT'S THE FREQUENCY, KOLCHAK 05/09/2008 NIGHT STALKER Marathon - 08:00 AM PILOT 09:00 AM INTO THE NIGHT 10:00 AM MALUM 11:00 AM THREE 12:00 PM BURNING MAN 01:00 PM THE SOURCE - PT 1 02:00 PM THE SEA - PT 2 03:00 PM WHAT'S THE FREQUENCY, KOLCHAK ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ No Kolchak 1970s eps scheduled in 2007/2008 so far +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Darren McGavin scif/horror & thriller movies last year: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Date Start Time/Channel# Title Airport 77 (747 disappears in the Bermuda Triangle) Thu Apr 26 08:00A on Action Tue July 3 06:05A on Encore Drama Channel Tue July 3 07:05A on Movie Plex Billy Madison (Adam Sandler, 1995) Wed July 4 12:00P on Cinemax Thu Sep 20 06:00A on HBO Blood & Concrete: A Love Story (1991, car thief & lounge singer on the run) Fri July 13 05:10A on Starz Edge Tue Jul 24 02:45A on Starz Comedy By Dawn's Early Light (1990) Fri Dec 29 01:40P on Thrillermax A Christmas Story (as Peter Billingsley's dad, 1983) Sun Dec 24 8pm (24-hour marathon) TBS The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955) Thu Dec 14 7:30/10:30P EST on Turner Classic Movies The Delicate Delinquent (1957, as a cop trying to reform Jerry Lewis) (not currently scheduled) From the Hip (1987, Judd Nelson, Darren McGavin, Ray Walston) Courtroom antics from a yuppie lawyer scheming his way to the top Tue Aug 28 04:30P & 5:00A on Showtime #2 Tue Sep 18 09:35A on The Movie Channel The Great Sioux Massacre (1965, Custer's last stand) (not currently scheduled) Hangar 18 (1980, government covers up UFO landing) (not currently scheduled) Hot Lead and Cold Feet (1978 comedy, McGavin vs. Don Knotts) Sat July 7 08:30A on Hallmark Channel My Wicked, Wicked Ways: The Legend of Errol Flynn (1985) Thu Jan 25 07:00A on Encore Drama Channel The Natural (1984, starring Robert Redford) Mon Sep 17 09:15A on American Movie Classics Pros and Cons (2000 remake) Fri Feb 2 03:55A on HBO Raw Deal (1986, Arnold Schwarzenegger, with McGavin) Sat Nov 4 08:30P on ion (Pax) Thu Sep 6 5pm/8pm EST on WOR New York Small Time (1998, crook blows a deal - distracted by his inept cronies Glenn Plummer, Rae Dawn Chong, Patrick Cupo, Ernie Reyes Jr, Darren McGavin, Tracey Ross. Fri Aug 10 03:50A on Flix Movie Channel Wed Aug 29 01:50A on Showtime Extreme Turk 182! (starring Timothy Hutton, 1985) Mon Jul 23 12:30P on Encore Drama Channel TV series: The X-Files (as previous head of the X-Files) "Travelers" Bizarre deaths involve Mulder's father and Senate counsel Roy Cohn Fri Jan 26 02:00A on SciFi Channel The X-Files "Agua Mala" Tentacles reportedly grab a man in his bathroom in Florida during a hurricane Wed May 16 05:00P on SciFi Channel Tales From the Darkside: Distant Signals (as star of cancelled 1950s TV-series revived by aliens) Fri Sept 7 12:00P on SciFi ChannelBarnabus Collins will bring Dark Shadows to Turner Classic Movies sometime in August
The SCIFI channel has bought the rights to the recent Kolchak remake, including the unaired episodes (the network didn't even show part 2 of a 2-part episode), but it is not on the regular schedule except in marathons
Darren McGavin movies can be seen from time to time on Encore, USA Network, Mystery, Starz, the SciFi Channel, American Movie Classics, Turner Classic Movies, Showtime and Action channel
Previous broadcasts on the SciFi Channel
No other Sci-Fi or USA channel broadcasts of "Kolchak, the Night Stalker" are scheduled. So far, none of the "new" episodes have aired, though SciFi Channel bought the rerun rights after the network cancelled it.
In the 1990 movie "By Dawn's Early Light," Darren plays a villain - he takes over the United States as acting President when Washington D.C. is accidentally nuked by the Soviet Union even though the President (Martin Landau) is apparently still alive. James Earl Jones, as the General in charge of the flying Pentagon, has to decide which orders to follow (McGavin wants to start WW3, Landau doesn't).
He also shows up in the occasional Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode on TV Land channel
And he guest-starred in the Tales from the Darkside episode "Distant Signals," in which mysterious people hire an actor to complete a tv series that was cancelled after just one season because they like it so much (based on a short story in Twilight Zone Magazine) even though it's been off the air for decades. Ending: maybe they live 20 lightyears away and got hooked on the tv series when it abruptly ended :-(
Tales From The Darkside is occasionally showing on WGN and other tv stations in syndicated reruns
He was introduced on The X-Files in the episode "Travelers"
Mulder (David Duchovny) questions a former agent (guest star Darren McGavin) about one of the first cases from the 1950s that may have involved his father. McGavin was also seen in a few more episodes as the same former agent
In the 1957 Jerry Lewis movie The Delicate Delinquent he co-starred as a cop who adopts teenage (!) Jerry to keep him out of trouble on the street. When he later did comedies like The Apple Dumpling Gang for Disney, he played strait man and let the comic duo of Don Knotts & Tim Conway do the comedy
Videoclip of Kolchak themesong
Previous year's episodes broadcast on the Sci-Fi channel
Visit Edgar Allen Poe page
Click here to see dead people
Or here to visit Boris Karloff, he's lonely
A Word To The Wives (1955, costarring Darren McGavin)
Click here for more Kolchak clips courtesy Bravo's Brilliant But Cancelled
Animated graphics (c) 2003 by The Animation Factory.
By the way, how are you this