The acknowledged inspiration for The X-Files
, and the basis for an updated 2005 network version, Kolchak: The Night Stalker
was a short-lived 1974 series spun off from a pair of extremely popular made-for-TV movies about the supernatural adventures of dogged newspaper reporter Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin
). Though plagued by low ratings and critical brickbats, the show has cultivated a huge cult following over the past three decades, which has given rise to this three-disc set, which compiles all 20 episodes of the show. Though none of the episodic stories matches the suspense and writing strength of the Night Stalker
or Night Strangler
movies, TV horror fans will appreciate the parade of interesting and inventive monsters encountered by Kolchak (including a witches' coven in "The Trevi Collection"; an Aztec cult in "Legacy of Terror"; a Hindu Demon in "Horror in the Heights," which was penned by Hammer Films scribe Jimmy Sangster; and a headless biker in "Chopper," an episode deemed in extreme poor taste by Stephen King and co-written by Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, and Sopranos creator David Chase). McGavin is of course topnotch as Kolchak, and he's well-matched by Simon Oakland as his hot-tempered boss; guest stars include Scatman Crothers, James Gregory, Phil Silvers, Eric Braeden, Tom Skerritt, and Richard Kiel as the monster in two back-to-back episodes. Sadly, no extras accompany this fun collection of Kolchak's creepiest cases. --Paul Gaita
Carl Kolchak (McGavin) is a reporter for Chicago's Independent News Service; a magnet for situations involving the supernatural. Kolchak turned his investigative skills to vampires, werewolves, zombies and all manner of legendary creatures.