The Night Stalker
Barry Atwater as Janos Skorzeny in The Night Stalker
Written by Richard Matheson(teleplay)
Jeffery Grant Rice (novel)
Directed by John Llewellyn Moxey
Starring Darren McGavin
Music by Bob Cobert
Country of origin United States
Producer(s) Dan Curtis
Cinematography Michel Hugo
Editor(s) Desmond Marquette
Running time 74 minutes
Original network ABC
Original release January 11, 1972
Followed by The Night Strangler
The Night Stalker is a television film which aired on ABC on January 11, 1972. In it an investigative reporter, played by Darren McGavin, comes to suspect that a serial killer in the Las Vegas area is in fact a vampire.
It was based on the then-unpublished novel by Jeff Rice titled The Kolchak Papers. Rice said he wrote the novel because, "I'd always wanted to write a vampire story, but more because I wanted to write something that involved Las Vegas." Rice had difficulty finding a publisher willing to buy the manuscript until agent Rick Ray read the manuscript and realized the novel would make a good movie. The 1973 novel (renamed The Night Stalker) wasn't published until after the TV movie had already aired, and was delayed according to Rice because the publisher wanted both Rice's original novel and the 1974 sequel The Night Strangler (written by Rice but based on the screenplay by author Richard Matheson) so "they could be placed on the top of the publisher's list in the 1 and 2 positions for 1974."
Directed by John Llewellyn Moxey (a veteran of theatrical and TV movies), adapted by Richard Matheson, and produced by Dan Curtis(best known at the time for Dark Shadows), The Night Stalker became ABC's highest rated original TV movie, earning a 33.2 rating and 54 share which was unheard of for an original TV movie at the time. The TV movie did so well it was released overseas as a theatrical movie and inspired a sequel TV movie titled The Night Strangler, which aired in 1973, a single-season TV series of twenty episodes titled Kolchak: The Night Stalker which ran on ABC between 1974–75, and a short lived 2005 TV series called Night Stalker.
Actor Darren McGavin recalled that his involvement began when "My representatives called to say that ABC had purchased the rights to a book called The Kolchak Papers. They were into a kind of first draft of a script by Richard Matheson, and they called the agency to ask them if I’d be interested in doing it. My representative read it and called me." The popular TV movie, along with its sequel and the TV series, provided inspiration for Chris Carter's The X-Files. Carter featured actor Darren McGavin in the show as a tribute to the actor and the project that inspired his popular series. Originally Carter had wanted McGavin to play Kolchak, but the actor elected not to, so the role was rewritten, making McGavin's character Arthur Dales the "father of the X-files"
- Darren McGavin as Carl Kolchak
- Carol Lynley as Gail Foster
- Simon Oakland as Tony Vincenzo
- Ralph Meeker as Bernie Jenks
- Claude Akins as Sheriff Warren A. Butcher
- Charles McGraw as Police Chief Ed Masterson
- Kent Smith as District Attorney Tom Paine
- Elisha Cook Jr. as Mickey Crawford
- Stanley Adams as Fred Hurley
- Larry Linville as Dr. Robert Makurji
- Jordan Rhodes as Dr. John O'Brien
- Barry Atwater as Janos Skorzeny
Full Cast List....