Kolchak The Night Stalker
(Sept. 13, 1974-March 28, 1975) was the short lived but well remembered TV series based on the hit TV movies The Night Stalker
and The Night Strangler
. "The Vampire
" was the 4th episode of the series and aired on October 4, 1974. Regular stars include Darren McGavin as Carl Kolchak and Simon Oakland as Tony Vincenzo, with guest stars William Daniels (St. Elsewhere
, Boy Meets World
), and Larry Storch (F-Troop
Reporter Carl Kolchak goes to Los Angeles to interview a guru but ends up tracking down a female vampire left over from his earlier case in Las Vegas. The vampire is working as a call girl to meet her victims and Kolchak has to try to convince the unbelieving police lieutenant of what is really going on, leading to a fiery conclusion.
I'm sure if I do Creature Features long enough, I will eventually cover every episode of The Night Stalker.
"The Vampire" was released on the VHS tape Kolchak: The Night Stalker - Two Tales Of Terror in 1996. I bought the tape some time around then, which also included the series premiere episode "The Ripper". I believe that was the first time I saw the episode as it seemed new to me.
The Night Stalker had a great premise and had episodes that ranged from classic TV horror to shows that were borderline silly. "The Vampire" is on the classic side.
While it's never stated outright that this vampire is related to Janos Skorzeny from the original movie, it's easy enough to figure out and makes for a great bit of continuity. It's also a theme that isn't often focused on as, usually, once the main vampire is killed, the story ends.
The episode hits the usual high notes: great McGavin narration, Kolchak manipulating Vincenzo to get the story he wants, and great antagonism between the reporter, who is head and shoulders above his peers, and the police. It also has a tight plot, a believable monster, seedy characters and a spectacular final scene, traits which seem to mark all the best episodes.
Suzanne Charny plays the part of vampire Catherine Rawlins with lots of violent action, even when attacking "the Godzilla Gang" members of the Los Angeles Rams. Having a prostitute question Kolchak about the eerie attractiveness of Rawlings was a nice touch as it directly talks about the appeal of sexy vampires, which is usually shown rather than stated.
"The Vampire" is an example of the high points of this series which have made it so beloved.
The Vampire rises from the grave. A hand reaching up through the dirt from a gravesite is always a great visual in a vampire story. In this instance, the camera focuses on a woman changing her tire as the hand breaks through the dirt out of focus. Then, the focus shifts between the two points, bringing out the woman's proximity to the horror. Weird music and McGavin's narration add to the scene as well.
Kolchak calling the call girl to catch the vampire. He orders an "appointment" with Catherine Rawlins and prepares for the date with a stake, mallet and crucifix. When the service sends a different girl, Kolchak pounces and the girl, nonplussed, wonders what kind of a freak he is. It's a fun scene.
Rawlins attacking the football players. Kolchak gets a tip as to Rawlins whereabouts and ends up in the middle of the female vampire tossing around a bunch of large men in bad '70 plaid suits. Kolchak's interaction with Lt. Matteo (William Daniels) is some of the best of the series.
The flaming cross. Kolchak finally tracks down the vampire and is prepared for her. He leads her to a 20-ft cross, which he had dowsed with gasoline and ignites, as well as creating a ring of fire around them. The cross of fire incapacitates Rawlins, allowing Kolchak to stake her as Matteo shows up. Great stuff!
" was directed by Don Weis, a prolific TV director from the 1950s to 1990. His work includes series like Batman
, Planet Of The Apes
, Fantasy Island
, The Love Boat
, Starsky & Hutch
, and It Takes A Thief
. The episode was written by David Chase, best known as the producer of The Sopranos
and The Rockford Files
Larry Storch is a comedian who appeared on Car 54, Where Are You?, F-Troop, and Married...With Children, as well as numerous guest appearances on dozens of shows. My childhood memories of Storch are from The Ghost Busters (1975), a live action Saturday morning show that featured Storch, Bob Burns and Forrest Tucker (F-Troop, The Abominable Snowman-1957) as supernatural detectives Spencer, Tracy and Kong.
In the F-Troop episode "V is for Vampire", Vincent Price plays Count Sfoza.
Suzanne Charney was a dancer on Hullabaloo (1965-66). She also had appearances on '70s shows like Emergency!, The Rookies, The Rockford Files, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Starsky And Hutch and The Incredible Hulk, as well as the 1986 comedy Vasectomy: A Delicate Matter.
Kolchak: The Night Stalker
- The Vampire
can be seen on the NBC APP and website