Kolchak: The Night Stalker (original)...

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Warped9, Apr 24, 2012.

  1. propita

    propita Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yup! And I too heard McGavin's voice saying this.
     
  2. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    I said I would finish with The Prisoner first before launching into this show, but I just couldn't wait anymore.


    "The Ripper" *****

    Kolchak tracks a serial killer who just might be the original Jack the Ripper.

    This was a riot and a strong opening for the series. I really liked watching the Ripper in action when the cops are trying to get him. The low-key f/x worked well. Indeed, with his Victorian style cape in some sequences the Ripper made me think of Batman in action in the shadows.

    This felt a bit more small scale than the previous films, but then it is a one hour television episode. It doesn't feel quite as big a story, but then they're cramming it into a one hour episode. Nonetheless it feels very much like the previous films in terms of sensibility. Kolchak is still something of a goof and Vincenzo is again his long suffering boss. One thing this has over the films is a good opening theme song and better music throughout the episode.

    My only complaint has nothing to do with the episode. Sadly it looks like the transfer to dvd really needs a proper remastering to get the better picture the series deserves. This box set looks like it was cobbled together on the cheap. You get twenty episodes on three double-sided discs. Sadly you don't get any archival extras. The series should be properly remastered as well as packaged together with the two original films in one proper box set.


    "The Zombie" ****

    Anyone connected with a particular murder is being found killed with their spines broken.

    Kolchak learns a bit about voodoo while tracking an undead killer. :lol: The scene where Kolchak finds the killer dormant in an old funeral hearse within a wrecking yard is priceless, particularly when he attempts to sidle up to the body to pour salt into the mouth and try to sew the lips shut. :lol:
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2012
  3. Starkers

    Starkers Admiral Admiral

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    Re; The Ripper, my main complaint would be that the Ripper seems to frequent the same massage parlour every night :lol:

    Re; The Zombie, yeah some of the thinks Karl is called upon to do to destroy a monster are a bit overly complex at times!! (not that this is a bad thing, better that than he just stakes them all!)
     
  4. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Ah, just thinking about these episodes makes me smile. Kolchak is so cool. :D In these first episodes, he also gets a continuing cast of supporting characters. There's Updyke-- "Uptight"-- who is the anti-Kolchak and Miss Emily-- you'll notice that the Peeping Tom old lady from "The Ripper" will play that role (and, if memory serves, she wrote one of the letters to Miss Emily that helps Kolchak track down the Ripper).

    I also love how far Kolchak is from the traditional hero. The scenes where he is hiding in the Ripper's closet as the Ripper reaches in to hang up his coat, or the scene in the hearse where Kolchak is sewing up his lips and he opens his eyes, and Kolchak just breaks in sheer terror and runs away screaming are priceless. :lol:
     
  5. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    "They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be" ****

    Kolchak's investigation into missing zoo animals might be linked to a UFO.

    An invisible alien! Why not? Certainly saves on the f/x expenses. Again the low-key touches work. This time Kolchak doesn't waste much time trying to convince anyone of what he believes. And at the end we get to see a genuine alien spacecraft, something that actually took Mulder and Scully a while longer to do.

    Almost everything James Gregory appears in makes him look like a goof. The only two good turns I've seen from him are in the 1962 film The Manchurian Candidate and Star Trek's "Dagger Of The Mind." At least in Barney Miller as Inspector Luger he fit the show's sense of comedy.

    The government guys stay pretty much in the background...and they're not driving a black sedan...or even an LTD.


    "The Vampire" *****

    Kolchak has another vampire to find only this time in Los Angeles.

    Kudos to the writers for creating a different vampire and tangentially tying it to the events in Las Vegas from the first movie. They don't connect it directly, but the connection is there just by referring to a string of murders between Vegas and LA.

    Kolchak is something else. He's a goof and something of a klutz---watching him trying to be stealthy in the dark while knocking over everything is a riot---and yet rather than walk away he takes it upon himself to do what no one else thinks of doing. He doesn't just go out to find the creature to satisfy his curiosity, but goes prepared to do what needs to be done even though he's scared shitless. :lol:

    Awesome!


    "The Werewolf" ***

    Kolchak is aboard a cruise ship full of passengers...and a rampaging werewolf.

    There's a definate strain of comedy in this series, more so than The X-Files (which had its own kind of dry humour). And seeing Eric Braeden, who will later go on to play Victor Neuman in the soap The Young And The Restless, as a werewolf is definitely funny.

    This one was missing the air of tension the previous episodes had...or at least I thought so. It has its moments, but it didn't strike me as quite as good. Part of the problem for me was the way the werewolf was done. It should have been kept more in shadow where the less-than-inspired makeup would be less evident.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2012
  6. Starkers

    Starkers Admiral Admiral

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    The UFO one is interesting, and I like Kolchak's summation at the end about a guy out for a drvie who breaks down, stops off to refuel and grab a bite to eat :)

    The Vampire is good, it plays with expectations around the identity of the vampire and the bit where the woman stops by the roadside and the hand comes out of the ground is probably one of the creepiest moments in the whole series.

    The Werewolf though...oh dear. Great idea with the cruise ship, but the wolf is so badly realised it's untrue!
     
  7. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    That was my favorite episode. I love Werewolves. :rommie:

    And the idea of setting it on a cruise ship was great; it kept the Werewolf within a small area, making it easier to move the story along.
     
  8. Starkers

    Starkers Admiral Admiral

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    Oh yeah it's a great idea, but even on a tv budget they should have been able to do better than that, he looks like a dog and you can see pale skin beneath the mast/his shirt collar, at least use makeup to darken those bits! and like Warped said, keep the monster out of sight/in the shadows.
     
  9. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Admiral

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    At the time, Braeden was perhaps best known for playing scientists in Colossus: The Forbin Project and Escape from the Planet of the Apes.

    I definitely recognized him back in the old days. "Hey, it's Dr. Forbin!"
     
  10. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Re: "The Werewolf"

    A werewolf on a cruise ship isn't a bad idea, particularly if the ship is sailing just when the moon happens to be full.

    But there were misses. I understand being constrained by a TV budget, but still where's the creativity. They make a big point of mentioning this is an older ship built in the 1930s and destined for the scrapping yard. Funny, but it certainly didn't look like an old ship to me. It looked more like a relatively current vessel as they were using stock shots of some (relatively) modern liner. Could they not have found footage of an older ship for those long exterior shots? It also would have been easier to overlook if they hadn't shown what looked like a (then) modern looking bridge.

    As for the werewolf the make-up/costume was poor. They might have gotten away with it if they'd kept him in shadow, but we saw him in the light and it looked really cheap and unfinished. They also pretty much ignored all the fuss among the passengers if they'd heard prolonged periods of gunfire above decks.

    This wasn't horrible, but it just felt rather cobbled together. It started out creepy enough with reference to a family of five, including two children, being attacked and horribly mutilated. But after that the story veers into mostly comedy and next to no tension or drama.


    "Firefall" ***

    People somehow connected to a symphony conductor are bursting into flames.

    A definate X-Files feeling to this story. Indeed I think The X-Files actually did a story about people dying by spontaneous combustion. While this isn't an awesome episode it's a step up from "The Werewolf" because of the weirdness factor. There's some definite WTF sense to it.


    "The Devil's Platform" ****

    People connected to a politician running for state senator are meeting untimely deaths.

    This one gets back to form. Everywhere Kolchack goes there's a large black, menacing dog. But I'm still not sure if the dog was meant to be the devil incarnate himself or it was actually the politician transforming into the form of a dog. But the dog's amulet seemed to be the source of its power and once destroyed rendered it powerless.

    Nice eerie feel to this story.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2012
  11. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    ^^ It was my impression that he turned into the dog and when the amulet was destroyed he was stuck that way. A pretty cool ending.

    Well, yeah, but that didn't bother me; especially at 13. :D
     
  12. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Thats the way I prefer to think of it.
     
  13. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    "Bad Medicine" *****

    An 8ft. ancient Indian is killing the rich to collect a treasure.

    :techman:

    You can't watch this and not see how Chris Carter was inspired to create The X-Files. The only real difference is that Fox Mulder probably would have already had a lot of ancient Indian lore in his head while Kolchak has to learn about it. But here we have that wonderful trademark combination of the weird, the creepy and a nice dose of humour.

    Kolchak has the knack to see there's a lot in the world still unexplained while most everyone around can him barely see past the end of their nose.


    "The Spanish Moss Murders" *****

    Kolchak follows a string of murder victims whose chests have been crushed.

    More fodder for Chris Carter. :lol: A volunteer for a sleep experiment has unconsciously conjured a monster of Bayou legend. He continues to be a goof, but Kolchak's intense curiosity and need to know the truth is stronger than his sense of fear. He takes it upon himself to go down into Chicago's stinking sewers teeming with rats and snakes to hunt a creature no one else would dare believe in. :lol:

    This monster works because they keep him in shadow and let your imagination fill in the blanks. This one is a real Swamp Thing come to life.


    I'm loving this series. Out of nine episodes and two films so far I've hit only two episodes that are disappointments. Those disappointments aren't bad, but just okay and not on the same level of effectiveness as the rest. Unless the second half of this season of episodes nose dives I'd say this was a sadly underrated show. It's clever and quirky and simply fun. I find myself laughing out loud every so often simply because it's that much fun.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2012
  14. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    ^^ I agree.

    My favorite moment in "Bad Medicine" is when he puts together the jigsaw puzzle of infra-red negatives to form an image of the creature. Very ominous. That episode is also a great example of adapting ancient folklore to the modern world: Where would the spirit of a cliff-dweller hang out? An unfinished skyscraper, of course.

    "The Spanish Moss Murders" is another favorite, because I like swamp creatures almost as much as Werewolves. The use of the sleep study is a great plot device and I love how they brought the ambiance of the Bayou to Chicago. It has an especially good guest cast, too. The one thing that nagged at me about this one was how the monster just kind of dropped to the ground when killed. Shouldn't it have disappeared? Didn't this leave Kolchak with some solid evidence?
     
  15. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    ^^ I believe Kolchak does say that the sewers washed away any evidence of the creature. To me that implied it reverted back to moss or natural elements and was just dissolved and washed away.
     
  16. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Oh, I don't remember that. I'll have to check my DVD.
     
  17. Starkers

    Starkers Admiral Admiral

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    Was Firefall the one with the doppleganger? I remember that one being quite creepy in places, especially when the doppleganger was grinning in through the church windows!

    I still wish the show had been slightly creepier, but it is fun and McGavin is always a joy to watch.
     
  18. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, thats the one. And, yes, the church window scene is creepy.


    "The Energy Eater" ****

    A mythical entity is destroying a new hospital.

    Definitely not your typical monster. And you can only see it with special film. Neat that Kolchak has some willing to believe him for a change and even help him to some extent albeit reluctantly

    Kolchak is alternately a goof (love it!) as well as can be pretty slick and audacious at times. He'll worm his way into just about any situation just to look into an anomaly that most people would just walk right by.
     
  19. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    ^^ That's the one with the jigsaw puzzle of photographic negatives. I don't know how I mixed that up with "Bad Medicine." That's what I get for posting first thing in the morning.

    There was a line at the end of "Spanish Moss Murders" that all the evidence was washed away, but it's odd that he didn't even try to salvage anything.

    Anyway, "Energy Eater" was great. That was the second time they used American Indian folklore. I always loved that.
     
  20. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    "Horror In The Heights ****

    A mythical Indian spirit is devouring the flesh of its victims.

    A different kind of Indian lore this time. This time a Rakshasa is loose in an old Chicago neighbourhood populated by seniors. Like the Salt Vampire from Star Trek the Rakshasa can assume the form of a person its potential victim knows and trusts and thus make them easy to attack wherein the creature then devourers the victim's flesh.

    Kolchak picks up the only weapon that can kill the creature from an aged Rakshasa hunter who is no longer able to combat the creature.

    This was decent, but I found the resolution came a little too quickly. It didn't really draw out the tension.


    "Mr. R.I.N.G." *****

    An A.I. robot escapes from a top secret lab and wreaks havoc.

    Kolchak dabbles in science fiction in trying to learn what kind of creature has superman strength and can kill with one hand while also robbing a library and a funeral home. This was kind of neat and it turns out the monster, or robot, isn't inherently evil but rather lost and confused as well as possessing a survival instinct. What is amusing is that in an age when hand held calculators were just starting to get into the marketplace in this story we have scientists build an A.I. in humanoid form that surpasses anything we can do today. Hence the science fiction.

    And this time it isn't Kolchak, but simple human fear that kills the "monster."
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2012