The Night Stalker (1972 TVM)

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“The story may be apocryphal, but I believe it.”
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vt Kolchak: The Night Stalker; vt The Kolchak Papers; vt The Kolchak Tapes
US / 75 minutes / color / Curtis, ABC Dir: John Llewellyn Moxey Pr: Dan Curtis Scr: Richard Matheson Story: Jeff Rice Cine: Michel Hugo Cast: Darren McGavin, Carol Lynley, Simon Oakland, Ralph Meeker, Claude Akins, Charles McGraw, Kent Smith, Barry Atwater, Larry Linville, Jordan Rhodes, Elisha Cook Jr., Stanley Adams, Virginia Gregg, Peggy Rea, Helen O’Brien.

The Night Stalker was the first of two TV movies—the other being The Night Strangler (1973 TVM), which I’ll be covering here soon—that heralded a TV series, Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974–5). The series ran for just a single season of 20 episodes, which were aired at somewhat irregular intervals, so can hardly have been regarded as especially successful in its day. Even so, it has maintained a cult following ever since . . . as I’ll be pointing out when I write about it shortly for the Wonders in the Dark site’s current TV Countdown.

In the meantime, though, this movie:

Las Vegas, and the authorities are alarmed that there seems to be a serial killer on the list—not so much because he’s killing people as because, Continue reading

Undying Monster, The (1942)

vt The Hammond Mystery
US / 63 minutes / bw / Twentieth Century–Fox Dir: John Brahm Pr: Bryan Foy Scr: Lillie Hayward, Michel Jacoby Story: The Undying Monster: A Tale of the Fifth Dimension (1922) by Jessie Douglas Kerruish Cine: Lucien Ballard Cast: James Ellison, Heather Angel, John Howard, Bramwell Fletcher, Heather Thatcher, Aubrey Mather, Halliwell Hobbes, Charles McGraw, Alec Craig, Eily Malyon, Virginia Traxler, Heather Wilde.

Undying Monster - 0 opener

The year is around 1900. Perched on a clifftop somewhere in the south of England is Hammond Hall, creepy home of the Hammond family, heirs to a deadly secret. The family history records how the male Hammonds have come to dreadful ends. The current incumbent, Sir Oliver (Howard), who with his sister Helga (Angel) is the last of the Hammonds, is hoping to buck the trend.

Undying Monster - 1 helga, butler 'sometimes dogs are smarter than folks'

Helga (Heather Angel) and butler Walton (Halliwell Hobbes) agree that “sometimes dogs are smarter than folks.”

Undying Monster - 2 Helga and Walton in front of the great s-glass window

Helga (Heather Angel) and butler Walton (Halliwell Hobbes)  show off one of the manor’s great stained-glass windows.

One frosty night, as Helga is waiting for her brother to return home late from helping in the laboratory of her boyfriend, Dr. Jeff Colbert (Fletcher), she and the butler, Walton (Hobbes), hear a preternatural howling from without. Helga, fearing that Oliver might have defied family tradition by Continue reading

In Cold Blood (1967)

vt Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood

US / 134 minutes / bw / Pax, Columbia Dir & Pr & Scr: Richard Brooks Story: In Cold Blood (1966 “nonfiction novel”) by Truman Capote Cine: Conrad Hall Cast: Robert Blake, Scott Wilson, John Forsythe, Paul Stewart, Gerald S. O’Loughlin, Jeff Corey, John Gallaudet, James Flavin, Charles McGraw, Will Geer, John McLiam, Ruth Storey, Brenda C. Currin, Paul Hough, Vaughn Taylor, Duke Hobbie, Sheldon Allman, Sammy Thurman, Raymond Hatton, Teddy Eccles.

In Cold Blood 1967 - 2 The convict who knows

Floyd Wells (uncredited), the convict who knows.

While in the joint, con Dick Hickock (Wilson) allowed himself to be persuaded by cellmate Floyd Wells (uncredited) that Kansas farmer Herbert “Herb” W. Clutter (McLiam) is extremely wealthy and keeps a safe filled with at least $10,000 in his basement. Accordingly, as soon as Dick’s old friend, limping Korea Gold Star vet Perry Smith (Blake), is released on parole from his own sentence, Dick recruits him to go to the depths of Kansas and rob the family, Dick’s plan being that there’ll be “no survivors”. In parallel with this main narrative strand, we see scenes of the Clutters going about their daily business—Herb the genial paterfamilias, his neurotic wife Bonnie (Storey), their son Kenyon (Hough), whose smoking is an open secret between himself and his dad, and their sweet-sixteen-year-old daughter Nancy (Currin), in a flutter over the boyfriend she’s mad about. At last the family beds down for the night, and the two crooks quietly draw up in front of the farmhouse . . .

In Cold Blood 1967 - 5 Nancy faces death

Nancy Clutter (Brenda C. Currin) faces her nemesis.

What happens next we don’t discover until late into the movie; for now, we cut straight to the following morning, a Sunday, with the cops investigating the scene of a vile mass murder. The only clues that Alvin Dewey (Forsythe) of the KBI (Kansas Bureau of Investigations) and his team have at the outset are a distinctive shoeprint left in the blood of Herb Clutter and a less unusual but nonetheless identifiable one beside it, plus the military-style knots used in the ropes that bound the Clutters.

In Cold Blood 1967 - 1 The clue

The incriminating shoeprint.

The thieves found, of course, no safe. They came away with $43, a pair of binoculars and a transistor radio as the profit from their crime. With Dick in the driver’s seat, they go on a spree of Continue reading