Long before Mulder and Scully skulked about the country in search of myths and mysteries going bump in the night, there was Carl Kolchak, intrepid Chicago news reporter with a knock for stumbling upon the strange, unbelievable, and downright dangerous. Beginning as two made for television films, “Kolchak: The Night Stalker” was developed into a weekly series that saw its title reporter chasing down leads that brought him face to face with werewolves, vampires, invisible aliens, and even Jack the Ripper.
Running around an hour per episode, the series featured appearances by many film and television veterans, such as Larry Linville (M*A*S*H), Tom Skerrit (Picket Fences), and Erik Estrada (CHiPS). The series’ star, Darren McGavin, had already had a successful television career with the 1950’s Mike Hammer, where he portrayed the title character, and the 1960’s The Outsider. He even went on to play a featured guest star role in two late 1990’s era episode of The X-Files. While it only lasted a single season, it was enough to open the door for many new series to come.
Dipping a toe in both the sci-fi and horror pools, Kolchak faced the storybook horrors everyone knew, and even invented a few of his own. Though the series may look dated to today’s viewers, its influence is undeniable. The many television shows that modern horror fans hold dear would never have made it to network television if not for the path carved out by The Night Stalker. With an affable and impetuous lead, horror fans of all ages will soon grow to love this series. Definitely a must-see!
The complete series of twenty episodes is available for Netflix streaming, although the double-feature of the two films that spurred the series, The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler, are presently only available via disc. Neither the series of films are related to the serial killer of the same name.