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The ultimate conspiracy has been uncovered. The Smoking Man isn't the father of "The X-Files" Mulder. Reporter Carl Kolchak is! In January 1972 ABC ran a movie of the week they had mixed feelings about. The promos had received a good response and preview audiences rated it as highly as a very good theatrical film. "THE NIGHT STALKER" seemed like it was slumming since it really was a horror movie about a vampire stalking women in modern day Las Vegas. The modern day Van Helsing hunting down the vampire is a veteran, cynical reporter in a seersucker suit. Reporter Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin) has had many big stories in his day but his sensationalistic style rubs his editor Vincenzo (Simon Oakland) the wrong way. Kolchak has a habit of ticking off city officials and generally getting the paper in hot water. When Kolchak announces in his story that a modern day vampire stalks the city streets he runs into a city cover up. Kolchak becomes the only person that can stop the vampire (Barry Atwater) because no one will believe his incredible story.

"THE NIGHT STALKER" put ABC's "Movie of the Week" on the map. With an unheard of 54 share (meaning over half the audience in the United States were watching the program), it blew away every other TV movie including the well regarded "Brian's Song" that came before it. Writer Richard Matheson ("The Twilight Zone", "What Dreams May Come"), producer Dan Curtis ("Dark Shadows") and veteran TV and movie director John L. Moxey ("Circus of Fear") crafted an amazing TV event. When it was first shown to ecstatic preview audiences ABC vice-president Barry Diller realized that they should have turned it into a theatrical feature. “THE NIGHT STALKER“ was such a huge ratings hit that ABC told producer Dan Curtis to get another Kolchak movie going as fast as possible. He contacted Richard Matheson, the writer of the first story, and “THE NIGHT STRANGLER“ was born. "THE NIGHT STRANGLER" takes place in Seattle, Washington. Kolchak was fired at the end of the first film. Vincenzo (Simon Oakland), now the editor of the Seattle Daily Chronicle, runs into a drunk Kolchak (Darren McGavin) showing his clippings about the killer in the first film to any reporter that will sit still. Vincenzo takes pity on Kolchak and, against his better judgement, hires him again. The dead end story of the murder of an exotic dancer suddenly inflames local officials when Kolchak discovers that the same pattern of murders reoccur every 21 years. The circumstances are quite different from those of the first film. The victims all had their necks broken but with 7cc of blood and a puncture mark at the base of the skull. Kolchak's incredible story causes Vincenzo's ulcer to act up. Suddenly, Kolchak is hunting monsters again very much on his own.

With a strong supporting cast, witty, well written script and taut direction by Dan Curtis, "THE NIGHT STRANGLER" also became a huge success prompting ABC to commission yet a third script from Matheson. Instead of a stand-alone film, the network decided to develop the films into a TV series but then, strangely, dumped it in the TV graveyard (no pun intended) on Friday night at 10 o'clock. It was summarily cancelled after only 21 episodes but the inspiration of "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" and the rest, as they say, is history. So, grab your battered typewriter and your white linen suit and get ready to roll with the one and only Carl Kolchak!


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