• The Night Strangler (Kino Lorber) DVD Review

    Released By: Kino Lorber
    Released On: October 2, 2018
    Director: Dan Curtis
    Cast: Darren McGavin
    Year: 1973
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    The Night Strangler - Movie Review:

    Karl Kolchak saved Las Vegas from a vampire in "The Night Stalker". For his efforts, his story was spiked, he was separated from his fiancé, and he was run out of town. That films sequel, "The Night Strangler", finds Kolchak in Seattle, chasing leads that he hopes will land him a job with a local news outlet that he can then use to springboard back to a job in New York. A chance meeting with his old boss lands him a job at the local paper. Again, Kolchak becomes involved investigating what initially looks like a standard missing persons story, but quickly turns into something strange and otherworldly.

    While investigating a spate of murders by strangling, Kolchak detects that something is a little off, primarily given the description of the perpetrator via a survivor. The survivor describes the attacker as looking like a dead man. The fact that each victim has had a minute amount of blood drawn from them with a syringe reinforces his theory that the villain is not your everyday killer. After enlisting the help of a local belly dancer, Kolchak explores Seattle's underground and discovers that the murders follow a pattern - a pattern that spans a few days every 21 years, dating back to the 1800s.

    As before, his boss thinks he's crazy and the police want him to back off. Kolchack, ever the consummate professional, won't listen to them. His dogged pursuit again cracks the case and reveals facts that should not exist in a sane world, but somehow do.

    "The Night Strangler" is a worthy, if unequal, followup to the earlier "Night Stalker". The film needs to have the insidious plot explained via a bit of extended dialog in the third act by the monster itself, whereas in the first film the monsters actions spoke on their own, resulting in a much scarier adversary. "Night Strangler" also apes "Night Stalker" nearly beat for beat - an action that would ultimately doom the ensuing TV series, as what began as a great concept quickly staled into a rote "monster of the week" formula.

    That said, it's still a hoot. You've got Darren McGavin as Kolchak, a monster, and an endless parade of editors and cops for Kolchak to get into screaming matches with. What more could you want?

    The Night Stalker - DVD Review:

    The movie is presented TV standard 1.33:1 aspect ratio. As far as 1972 TV movies go, however, you could do worse. The colors are sharp and detail looks quite good. The audio is limited to a single Dolby Digital 2.0 mono setting but it is clean and clear throughout.

    The extras contain an interview with composer Bob Cobert. Cobert, at 94 is sharp as a tack and has a great sense of humor. It should be noted that this is the same extra contained on the "Night Stalker" DVD.

    Dan Curtis also gives an interview, and his insights on how he came into the TV business and the work he did on the Kolchak movies are well worth a watch.

    The audio commentary from Tim Lucas is also worth your time. His understanding of TV in the 70s, as well as the horror genre is second to none. That said, his commentary is always interesting and illuminating, never falling into the dry rabbit hole of film academia.

    The Night Strangler - The Final Word:

    It may not be the ground breaker that its predecessor was, but "The Night Strangler" is still worth your time. Darren McGavin, Kolchack, monsters. That's all you need. Throw in some great extras and this is a package that belongs in your collection.