The first tale of Carl Kolchak, "The Night Stalker" was made in 1972, and that was followed up by tonight's Saturday Night Special from 1973, "The Night Strangler."
Of course this film again stars Darren McGavin as Carl Kolchak, and Simon Oakland as Tony Vincenzo, but the new female co-star of this movie is the amorous Jo Ann (The Fall Guy) Pflug as the belly dancing Louise Harper. She tries to help Kolchak as much as she can.
The basic ingredients of "The Night Stalker" and "The Night Strangler" might not be that much different, but the odd casting of classic characters is, and has a lot to do why it's so much fun to watch.
You've got Scott (Journey To The Center Of Time) Brady as the perennial frustrated and angry police captain.
Funny little guy Wally (The voice of Underdog) Cox, is the research expert named Mr. Berry who helps out Kolchak immensely! Wally Cox was one of the most incredible talents on the planet, although many people only know him as a square on "Hollywood Squares." He was best friends with Marlon Brando, and their cremated ashes were actually scattered together, and one of the most incredible and unbelievable things about Wally was that he was a soul singer in the 1960's, and when you listen to this song, you will not believe your ears! Yes, that's really him!
Any child who has ever seen "The Wizard Of Oz" will immediately recognize Margaret Hamilton as the woman who was The Wicked Witch Of The West.
Dungeon Mega-Hero John Carradine is also in there. With 354 acting credits, John was probably in more horror movies than anybody even knows were made.
Al (Grandpa Munster) Lewis has a small role as a tramp living in the underground city beneath Seattle that burned down in 1889. Modern Seattle was built on top of it, and to this day, there are still guided underground tours of the streets and tunnels.
Nina (Dead Heat On A Merry-Go-Round) Wayne is the younger sister of blonde bombshell Carol Wayne, and is another one of the dancers in the club with Louise Harper.
Virginia (Ratboy, My Demon Lover) Peters is Charisma Beauty's husband and bodyguard Wilma!
Much like "The Night Stalker," and "Ripper," "The Night Strangler" starts off with a series of women being murdered, but it's not in Las Vegas this time, it's Seattle, Washington, where Kolchak has moved to after being fired in Vegas. Little does he know that his old boss Tony Vincenzo was also fired and relocated to Seattle, and is Carl's boss again.
One female victim after another is being strangled in what is now the world famous Pioneer Square area of Seattle.
Not only have they been strangled, but they also have been drained of blood, and Kolchak with the help of Mr. Berry, has deducted that it's been going on for 144 years, so of course nobody believes him!
I don't know how many 'Strangler' films there are total, but here is a list of some of the 'Strangler' titles we've featured here on this site! It's very possible that the 'Strangler' concept is probably more popular than ghouls, fiends, and demons all put together!
So here you go, "The Strangler," "Santo Vs. The Ghost Of The Strangler," "Strangler Of The Swamp," "The Hollywood Strangler Meets The Skid Row Slasher," "Santo Vs. The Strangler," "The Night Of The Strangler," "Invisible Strangler," "Teen-Age Strangler," "The Haunted Strangler," and "The Strangler Of Blackmoor Castle."
I think you get the picture!
Adding to the mystery, some of the witnesses say the killer looks like a dead man, while others say he looks very handsome!
His story doesn't have much affect on Louise, but in a pretty funny moment, we see how it shocks the rest of the passengers on the elevator when her and Kolchak exit. If this isn't a perfect WTF?! shot, then I don't know what is.
It's a long story, but the murdering bastard is a hallowed name in the city, which makes it even more difficult of a story for Kolchak to sell! Richard (Forbidden Planet) Anderson is the almost immortal Doctor.
At least his story is finally printed despite the odds, but then he finds out there were only twenty copies printed before they stopped the presses and ran the story as you will see below instead!
To make things even worse, Kate (Switchblade Sisters) Murtagh as Janie Watkins, a woman Kolchak can't stand, rubs it in his face. Kate was also in the episode pf "The Twilight Zone" called "Mr. Garrity And The Graves,"
As expected, Kolchak is fired once again, and so is Tony Vincenzo, but that's okay, because after this, they get their own show!