The Night Strangler
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BRAND NEW 4K RESTORATION! Supernatural phenomena, baffling murders and offbeat humor mark this second Night Stalker offering with a great cast and suspense so palpable, it'll feel like a presence right there in the room with you. Surfacing in Seattle, Kolchak (Darren McGavin, The Night Stalker) uncovers another maddening mystery: Every 21 years—for the past century—a serial killer commits a spree of murders, drains his victims' blood and then quietly disappears. But Kolchak is onto this monster and is about to discover a shocking underground lair... an army of rotting corpses... and the ageless madman behind it all. The great Dan Curtis (Burnt Offerings) produced and directed this highly-rated TV movie written by legendary sci-fi/horror writer Richard Matheson (I Am Legend). The stellar cast includes Jo Ann Pflug (Scream of the Wolf), Simon Oakland (Bullitt), Scott Brady (He Walked by Night), Wally Cox (TV’s Mister Peepers), Margaret Hamilton (The Wizard of Oz), John Carradine (House of the Long Shadows) and Al Lewis (TV’s The Munsters).
-Brand New 4K Restoration
-NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historian Tim Lucas
-NEW Interview with Composer Bob Cobert
-"Directing 'The Night Strangler'" Featurette
-Limited Edition Booklet essay by Film critic and author Simon Abrams
-Newly Commissioned Art by Sean Phillips
-Limited Edition O-Card Slipcase
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"The Night Strangler" repeats the same formula but ups the ante a bit. This time Kolchak uncovers a serial killer who has killed six women over 18 days every 21 years since 1868! Though not quite as good (or quite as believable: a multiple story secret Seattle Underground?) as the original, if you could get past the increasingly implausible premise, you could enjoy this movie and the resulting TV show for as long as it lasted.
I did, and maybe you can, too.
Note: Sadly, the only extras on this DVD are a couple of very revealing interviews with producer of both and director of the second, Dan Curtis. Would that commentary tracks had been provided by some of the surviving principals.
As to the quality of this disc: So far, I have absolutely no complaints. PLEASE NOTE: This rest of this review is for The Night Stalker ONLY, as I have not had a chance to see The Night Strangler in its entirety.
I saw both films when they originally aired and have seen them repeatedly over the years; the star of these 2 productions IS The Night Stalker.
I was very pleased at the transfer quality of The Night Stalker. Crisp, clear audio; excellent video transfer (clean, clear, rich in color). There are dark scenes in this picture, but they are meant to be that way. It is evident that these films were cost-effective, made-for-tv offerings(check out the sets, locations, costumes, rolling credits, etc). If you happen to be a fan of the Dark Shadows soap, you know thee are both Dan Curtis productions; you can see production similarities between them. Casting was pretty much on the money with the exception of Carol Lynley, who was a weak choice for the part she played. Darren McGavin's Kolchak was perfect; no one else could have portrayed him better. Simon Oakland fit comfortably into his part as Kolchak's boss and "antagonist" and Claude Akins knew just how to get the most out of his Sheriff Butcher character.
The Night Strangler script/story was not quite the quality of The Night Stalker, but if it is half a good as I recall and the second interview with Dan Curtis is as meaty as the first one, you will not make a mistake with this purchase. More reality and believability here than on those "reality" shows. Suspenseful entertainment at a reasonable price. If you feel comfortable with this partial review, buy this duo now; I don't think you will be sorry. If you are hesitant, please wait for my Night Strangler review. Thank you.
The strength of these movies---as would continue in the series--is the wonderful balance of humour and horror, the amusing balanced with the macabre. And the crowning touch is a worn out and down-on-his-luck newspaper reporter who seems the most unlikely individual to be a hero., fantastically played by the great Darren McGavin. McGavin brings Carl Kolchak to life and makes it all work. He's the real glue in the movies that brings it all together. Kolchak is like an everyman except that he has a streak of idealism in him: the insatiable need to know the truth and to reveal it even if he himself isn't too keen on going there. He is the ordinary man who does what needs to be done in extraordinary circumstances.
Well worth the price of admission to see these.