Night Stalker (1972 franchise)

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Kolchak, from the Night Stalker (1972 franchise)...

Night Stalker (1972 film) AKA The Kolchak Papers and The Kolchak Tapes, Night Strangler (1973 film) AKA The Time Killer, Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-1975 series), The Norliss Tapes (1973 film), Crackle of Death and The Demon and the Mummy (two compilation movies made from TV episodes); Night Stalker (2005 reboot)


"One man's quest to uncover the truth...." In the highly influential television series, Carl Kolchak is an abrasive reporter for a low-budget tabloid newspaper investigates strange supernatural occurrences in Chicago; in the films that preceded it, Kolchak works in Los Angeles, but is run out of town for "engaging in unsavory activities" due to his involvement in trying to solve the mysteries. The television series took the basic formula from the two made-for-TV horror films and added a small dose of gallows humor in the form of Kolchak's eccentric coworkers and constantly-angry and skeptical boss, which were a good match for Kolchak's habit of losing the evidence that would support his outlandish stories. Based on the success of the series, a pair of compilation movies made by stitching two TV episodes together were also released.

A short-lived reboot series was launched in 2005, but was canceled after only six episodes because failed to attract viewers, perhaps at least in part because it felt a little too different from the original series, and a little too similar to so many other monster-of-the-week shows that were made in the 1990s and 2000s in imitation of The X-Files (1993 series) (whose creators in turn cite the 1970s series as an inspiration).


  • Release Date: 1972-1975, 2005 (reboot)
  • Country/Language: US, English
  • Genres/Technical: Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Comedy (black comedy), Adventure (monster-of-the-week), made-for-television
  • Runtime: (generally formatted for a 1-hour commercial television slot)
  • Starring: Darren McGavin, Simon Oakland, Jack Grinnage
  • Director: John Llewellyn Moxey, Dan Curtis, (various)
  • Writer: Richard Matheson (teleplay), Jeffrey Grant Rice (story) (as Jeff Rice)
  • Producer/Production Co: American Broadcasting Company (ABC), Dan Curtis Productions, ABC Circle Films, Francy Productions, Universal Television
  • View Trailer: (link), (2005)
  • TVTropes: (link)
  • IMDB Page: (link), (link), (link), (link)


MPAA Ratings

  • Rated: MPAARATING (notes)

Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • SS___ (Two Tentacles: Barely Lovecraftian; could be a very loose adaptation)

Many episodes are only "Lovecraftian" in the Call of Cthulhu RPG sense of being mysteries investigated by an eccentric supernatural detective working just outside of legality to get to the bottom of the truth and protect the innocent from supernatural horrors. A couple actually involve monsters that wouldn't be out of place in a genuine "mythos" story, and one episode's title might be taken as a reference to Lovecraft's Great Old Ones ("They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be....") See the suggested episodes below for some details.

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.


Review Links:

  • (review needed)

Synopses of Suggested Episodes

  • The Night Stalker - In this first made-for-TV movie, Kolchak investigates a string of murders associated with massive blood loss and suspected vampirism, while being threatened to back off by the authorities. By Richard Matheson.
  • "They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be..." (AKA "U.F.O.") - Kolchak is witness to a bizarre manifestation when an unseen force decimates a building and causes a cache of lead ingots to vanish into thin air. He soon draws a connection between the disturbance and a series of incidents where both animals and human beings are turning up dead, the marrow mysteriously sucked out of their bones.
  • "The Spanish Moss Murders" - A dreaming host conjures up the Creole legend of an evil a moss-monster willing to kill anyone who threatens its survival.
  • "The Energy Eater" - A spirit-like monster is eating up the structure of a new hospital built on reclaimed land sacred to the Native American bear-spirit legend Matchemonedo, and draining patients of their protein.
  • "Horror in the Heights" - A shape-shifting Rakshasa spirit from Hindu folklore terrorizes a Jewish neighborhood.
  • "Primal Scream" - Defrosted ancient cell samples discovered in the Arctic grow into savage prehistoric primates and go on a rampage.
  • "Demon in Lace" - A succubus from ancient Mesopotamia murders young men to maintain her immortality.
  • "A Legacy of Terror" - An Aztec cult seeks to resurrect the mummy of their god Nanauatzin by sacrificing perfect people.


Comments, Trivia, Dedication

  • Darren McGavin would guest star as an former FBI agent familiar with strange cases in Episode 5x15 "Travelers" of The X-Files (1993 franchise), a series inspired by the Night Stalker franchise.

Associated Mythos Elements

  • TO DO

Keeper Notes