In 1974, Darren McGavin played reporter Carl Kolchak whose news stories would focus on the supernatural and science fiction aspects of a story. Kolchak: The Night Stalker only ran a short (it was only about 20 episodes) season on ABC. Although it lacked the creative fire power of the two TV movies, the best episodes had a sharp sense of humor and a couple of young contributors that would make their mark elsewhere (the creative team behind Back to the Future and the writer-producer of The Sopranos were both contributors to the series). Released to coincide with the new The Night Stalker TV series being produced/written by Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files, The Lone Gunmen), the original series will be bare bones without any extras, interviews or outtakes. However, the episodes will be uncut which is a big plus for fans.
The acknowledged inspiration for The X-Files, and the basis for an updated 2005 network version, Kolchak: The Night Stalker was a short-lived 1974 series spun off from a pair of extremely popular made-for-TV movies about the supernatural adventures of dogged newspaper reporter Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin). Though plagued by low ratings and critical brickbats, the show has cultivated a huge cult following over the past three decades, which has given rise to this three-disc set, which compiles all 20 episodes of the show. Though none of the episodic stories matches the suspense and writing strength of the Night Stalker or Night Strangler movies, TV horror fans will appreciate the parade of interesting and inventive monsters encountered by Kolchak (including a witches' coven in "The Trevi Collection"; an Aztec cult in "Legacy of Terror"; a Hindu Demon in "Horror in the Heights," which was penned by Hammer Films scribe Jimmy Sangster; and a headless biker in "Chopper," an episode deemed in extreme poor taste by Stephen King and co-written by Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, and Sopranos creator David Chase). McGavin is of course topnotch as Kolchak, and he's well-matched by Simon Oakland as his hot-tempered boss; guest stars include Scatman Crothers, James Gregory, Phil Silvers, Eric Braeden, Tom Skerritt, and Richard Kiel as the monster in two back-to-back episodes. Sadly, no extras accompany this fun collection of Kolchak's creepiest cases. --Paul Gaita