Saturday, August 7, 2021

#2,596. The Night Strangler (1973)


A sequel to the wildly popular 1972 made-for-TV film The Night Stalker, Dan Curtis’s The Night Strangler once again centers on the exploits of Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin), a newspaper reporter who moved from Las Vegas to Seattle, where he is hired by his former editor, Vincenzo (Simon Oakland). 

Kolchak's first assignment: a recent killing in which the victim, an exotic dancer, was strangled and drained of a small amount of blood. As Kolchak digs deeper into this story, he discovers that similar murders have been occurring in that section of the city from as far back as 1889, and repeating every 21 years! 

Much to the dismay of Vincenzo and Captain Schubert (Scott Brady) of the Seattle police department, Kolchak continues to dig, teaming up with researcher Titus Berry (Wally Cox) and belly dancer Louise Harper (Jo Ann Pflug) to get to the bottom of this very baffling mystery. 

Directed by Dan Curtis (the man behind the Dark Shadows series as well as the excellent anthology film Trilogy of Terror), The Night Strangler was written by the great Richard Matheson, who also penned The Last Man on Earth, Corman’s House of Usher, and a slew of other genre films and TV episodes. In addition, this sequel features such notable stars as John Carradine (as the editor of Kolchak’s paper), Al Lewis (a homeless guy) and The Wizard of Oz’s Margaret Hamilton (a university professor). 

Yet as impressive as all that is, The Night Strangler would have been nothing without Darren McGavin’s portrayal of Carl Kolchak, a pushy-as-hell newspaperman who refuses to quit until he has the whole story. Also doubling as the movie’s narrator, McGavin shines in every single scene, breathing life into a character you can’t help but love. Kolchak proved so popular, in fact, that he was given his own TV series, which ran on ABC from 1974-1975. 
Rating: 9 out of 10

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