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

A Portrait of Murder (1955 TVM)

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“What a terrible way for a beautiful dame like that to die.”
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vt Laura
US / 43 minutes / bw / CBS Dir: John Brahm Pr: Otto Lang Scr: Mel Dinelli Story: Laura (1943) by Vera Caspary Cine: Lloyd Ahern Cast: George Sanders, Dana Wynter, Robert Stack, Scott Forbes, Johnny Washbrook, Gloria Clark, Gordon Wynne, Robert Williams, Harry Carter.

Done as an episode of The 20th Century–Fox Hour, this is not so much a remake of Otto Preminger’s classic Laura (1944), which featured Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, Judith Anderson and Dorothy Adams, as a re-adaptation of Caspary’s novel for the screen. There’s a visible (and visual) awareness of Preminger’s version, but really this is its own entity. Much of the Continue reading

Taste of Evil, A (1971 TVM)

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Was someone trying to drive her . . . insane?
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US / 71 minutes / color / Aaron Spelling, ABC Dir: John Llewellyn Moxey Pr: Aaron Spelling Scr: Jimmy Sangster Cine: Arch Dalzell Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Barbara Parkins, Roddy McDowall, William Windom, Arthur O’Connell, Bing Russell, Dawn Frame.

Taste of Evil - 0 opener

“Once upon a time there was a family who lived in a big house all by itself in the middle of great big woods. There was Mommy. She was very beautiful. Everyone loved her—especially Uncle Harold. He wasn’t my real uncle—just make-believe. Mommy made people laugh, because she was so happy herself. Then there was Daddy. He was very handsome and very kind. Everybody was mad about him. And last of all, because she was the youngest, there was Susan. She had no brothers or sisters, so she was on her own a lot. But she didn’t mind it, because she had her own special house in the woods that her daddy had built for her when she was a very little girl . . .”

Continue reading

Circus of Fear (1966)

vt Das Rätsel des Silbernen Dreieck; vt Scotland Yard auf Heißer Spur; vt Circus of Terror; vt Psycho-Circus

UK, WG / 91 minutes / color / Circus, Proudweeks, Warner-Pathé, Constantin, AIP Dir: John Moxey (i.e., John Llewellyn Moxey) (UK), Werner Jacobs (WG) Pr: Harry Alan Towers Scr: Peter Welbeck (i.e., Harry Alan Towers) Story: see below Cine: Ernest Steward, John von Kotze Cast: Christopher Lee, Leo Genn, Anthony Newlands, Heinz Drache, Eddi Arent, Klaus Kinski, Margaret Lee, Suzy Kendall, Cecil Parker, Victor Maddern, Lawrence James, Tom Bowman, Skip Martin, Maurice Kaufmann, Dennis Blakely.

Circus of Fear - Klaus Kinski as creepy crook Manfred Hart

Klaus Kinski as creepy crook Manfred Hart.

This is usually listed as being based upon The Three Just Men (1926) by Edgar Wallace, but has nothing to do with that novel. It was filmed in color, although most of the copies released to the US (as Psycho-Circus) were in black-and-white.

Circus of Fear - descent from Tower Bridge

The daring descent from Tower Bridge to the waiting boat.

A mysterious criminal mastermind organizes an armored-van heist on London’s Tower Bridge, the gang escaping along the Thames via speedboat. When one of the van guards puts up a fight, he’s shot by his erstwhile colleague, corrupted guard Mason (Maddern). Gang leader Jackson (Bowman) is all for offing Mason, who has turned a simple robbery into a murder case, but the boss, on the phone, issues different instructions: Mason must bring the loot from the heist to The Old Farm, near Windsor. When Mason gets there he finds the place is the winter quarters for Barberini’s Worldwide Circus. He doesn’t have time to discover much more, though, because Continue reading