Before X-Files… There was Kolchak.. The Night Stalker.

Hunting monsters is not a new concept in the horror movie genre. One of the first monster hunters to grace the silver screen was Abraham Van Helsing, who appeared to movie goers in the 1931 adaptation of Bram Stoker’s  Dracula. 
Since that time, many other variations have haunted the big screen. Some of these manifestations included acting parts that ranged from scientists hunting for giant bugs, priests wrangling with demons or cops hunting for crazed maniacs, aliens and werewolves.
One of my favorites is when wrestler turned actor, Tor Johnson played a detective, Inspector Clay,  turned alien in Ed Woods’, Plan 9 from Outer Space. His simple and amateur performance  was a prime B -Movie example of how cinematic monster hunters were trapped into hunting blood sucking, goo-oozing, scaly green eyed monsters.


Inspector Clay played by Tor Johnson searches out the truth about an alien invasion.

But by the 1960s, the movie screen found itself in deep competition with the cathode ray tube ( the original TV screen) as TV began to churn out movie monsters and sci- fi aliens by the ton.  With supernatural strength, TV series such as The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond and Alfred Hitchcock (just to name a few) turned up the monster machine to full power. Among these TV series was another TV show character by the name of Kolchak, better known as the The Night Stalker.

The Night Stalker pieced together monster parts and phantom hunting and planted the ideas at the center of it’s plot and in our hungry hearts. It aired on ABC during the 1974–1975  T.V. season. Its fictional character was a wire service reporter—Carl Kolchak, who was played by actor Darren McGavin.

Kolchak, while working his news beat investigated mysterious happenings with weird causes. And he specialized in those types of cases that the cops refused follow up on, or were to scared to do so. The cases always involved phantoms, vampires, and other fantastic creatures. All while battling creatures of the night, the cops and his extremely irritable boss, Tony Vincezo, played by actor Simon Oakland.

The series began as two television movies, The Night Stalker (1972) and The Night Strangler (1973). Though the series lasted only a single season, it rapidly achieved cult status and has remained popular among many fans. Full episode’s can be viewed on youtube and still runs in syndication . For those of us who were X-Files addicts. (And I never missed an episode). Would surely recognize the same plot lines being played out in the X-Files, but to a much more sophisticated level than Kolchak.

-Happy Halloween!


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