The Night Stalker on DVD

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  • 12-26-2007, 02:01 AM
    3-LockBox
    The Night Stalker on DVD
    After a thread a few weeks ago about vampire movies, I got the idea to look this movie up and sure enough, its on DVD, and for cheap too (Amazon). Just got this in the mail on the 24th and I've watched it twice now. What a great old fashioned flick with one of the most original twists on the genre. Hollywood still wants to over romanticise and over stylize the hell out of the vampire persona, making them suave, handsom and sophisticated ladies men. The vampire in this movie is a low-life scum who brutaly kills women but also raids hospitals for plasma and wears wigs because of his decrepid appearence. He is for all intents and purposes, a serial killer. This 1972 TV movie treats him like a diseased criminal instead of flirting with the notion that the lifestyle is somehow 'cool'.

    The fact is, this is a movie about a reporter tracking a string of murders in Las Vegas and suspects that the perp is a real-life vampire. He spends most of the movie trying to get a story published and convince city officals that they're not dealing with any run-of-the-mill serial killer, but runs into political roadblocks at every turn. Meanwhile the cops pump bullets into the guy on two occassions with no affect, but city officials want to keep a lid on it and away from the public. Darren McGavin as Kolshack and Simon Oakland as his editor Vencenzo put on some of the most inspired shouting matches on film and are a riot to watch together.

    This is not a high budget affair, however. Although the quick-cut editing, hand-held camera sequences and over-lapping dialog was ahead of its day (for a TV movie), there are going to be those who quivel that certains effects coulda been better and they'd be right, but its the story and script that carries this movie. The vampire is portrayed as sinister and ravenous, and looks very creepy (he is cut by the blows of a night stick but does not bleed). This vampire doesn't utter a word. The quick edits and hand-held camera angles give the vampire a credible sense of super-strength, without looking over the top like the Six-million Dollar Man or The Incredible Hulk.

    This DVD is actually a double feature with the sequel to The Night Stalker, called The Night Strangler, which is another well scripted movie with a great storyline, but has a slapdash ending that isn't very satisfying to me, not to mention the clumsy make-up. It takes place in Seattle, WA, and involves a serial killer, with of course, a twist. (serial killer in Seattle - go figure, huh?) This movie might be of special interest to people in the Pacific Northwest since many of the scenes were filmed in Seattle. Beyond that, some might suggest this isn't scary enough, and I find that it isn't as tight as The Night Stalker, but it does have its moments. It was shortly after this that the series was developed.

    The movies look pretty good for being 25 years old. The picture is crystal clear but the sound is mono and it sounds like an old TV show. And the DVD is as bareboned as it gets without any extras save for a short interview with the producer. Both movies had a huge impact on the creator of The X-files, Chris Carter, and are good examples of compelling movie making on a shoestring budget, and in short order. All you need is an original idea and vision.
  • 12-26-2007, 06:00 AM
    Worf101
    Great minds...
    I just got through watching it on DVD last night with the ole lady. Janos Skorzeny, what a vampire. Great movie, made in 14 days for "lunch money". Goes to show that you don't need a billion dollar budget to scare folks.

    Da Worfster