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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cult TV at it's best!
Whenever I think of Kolchak I always remember being allowed to stop up late to watch it. I couldn't believe after years of waiting that they finally realeased it in America. I ordered it before it's release and even waited the agonising weeks to get it over to the UK! I watched about four episodes in one day. Even now I think it is one of the best shows ever. Darren...
Published on 16 Jun 2006 by Amazon Customer

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3.0 out of 5 stars Good content let down by picture quality
A memorable and ground breaking show with great character development of the two stars characters Karl Kolchac and his hen pecked boss played by Simon Oakland The product is let down by poor picture quality, that is no better than a fair VHS tape recording, or barely as good. Having just watched how good the picture is on the Hawaii Five O DVD box set, this is a big let...
Published on 26 July 2012 by Mr. Alan Sullivan


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cult TV at it's best!, 16 Jun 2006
Whenever I think of Kolchak I always remember being allowed to stop up late to watch it. I couldn't believe after years of waiting that they finally realeased it in America. I ordered it before it's release and even waited the agonising weeks to get it over to the UK! I watched about four episodes in one day. Even now I think it is one of the best shows ever. Darren McGavin is excellent as the hard working reporter always out to get his story whatever he faces in the night! The stories are entertaining & even now still quite spooky. It's well worth watching even to those who've never seen it before. If you like weird stories about vampires, life prolonging elixers, American Indian spirits werewolves and all! this is for you.

It's full of comedy, drama, horror well just everything for everyone!
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At Last!!!, 9 July 2006
By 
P. Bessant (Portsmouth UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Kolchak - The Night Stalker: Complete Series [DVD] (DVD)
Finally the UK is to get this fantastic series on DVD.
I'm not talking about the recent rehash but the original 1970's classic starring Darren Mcgavin.
For those who don't know this is the show spawned from two of the most successful tv movies ever made- 'The Night Stalker' and 'The Night Strangler' and is noted as the inspiration behind 'The X-Files'.
Only one season was made of this creepy series due to US networks reluctance (at the time) of providing a geniunely scary weekly tv show, favouring the bog standard cop shows of the time.
Each week Carl Kolchak, a reporter of a newspaper investigated supernatural cases involving vampires, werewolves, monsters and the like much to the bewilderment and frustration of his editor and the relationship between these two characters provided some comic relief in a show that once seen is never forgotten.
British tv at the time didn't know how to take it and only a few regions actually screened it. It wasn't until years later that the majority of the UK got to see it and even then it was treated unfairly. Shown by the BBC on 'Mystery Train' - a late night combination of this and horror films in general, presented by Richard O'Brian, the show hacked off half of the opening credits and dropped the closing ones completely for the first 6 or 7 episodes before it finally got the respect it deserved and even now not many people have seen the entire series and probably half the population still don't even know of its existance.
Having recorded 16 of the 20 episodes made and having seen each one countless of times I'm so glad that at last I'll be able to see the missing 4 from my collection and to have them all on DVD.
For those of you in the know I'm sure you are all looking forward to finally getting one of the most influential TV programmes ever made.
Reserve my copy now!!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, 9 Mar 2012
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This review is from: Kolchak - The Night Stalker: Complete Series [DVD] (DVD)
I watched these shows in the 80s or 90s & thought they were brilliant, I couldn't wait for the boxed set to go on sale here.

I was expecting it to be a bit like revisiting somewhere you thought was huge when you were younger but find it's not nearly so big when you're an adult. However, I wasn't disappointed, it's just as good second time around.

Ok, so a few of the stories are a bit daft & pre CGI, the special effects are a sometimes very suspect but the acting is superb. Darren McGavin is brilliant as the scruffy but tenacious reporter Kolchak & the banter between him & Simon Oakland (who plays his editor) is hilarious. The fact that he lies, tricks people into doing things for him & rides roughshod through any rules & regulations just seems to make him more likeable - you know he's in the right & it somehow doesn't matter that he hasn't played totally fair to get to the bottom of each mystery (he is, after all, also protecting the general public)

Haven't seen them all yet - those we have, we watched on wintry Saturday afternoons. Very atmospheric. The clocks haven't even gone forward yet & I'm already waiting for October & the dark so we can watch the rest.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Son, I've seen more dead bodies than you've had TV dinners.", 15 Oct 2009
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Kolchak - The Night Stalker: Complete Series [DVD] (DVD)
"You know, if all the film that I've shot that's been confiscated by the cops were laid end to end, I'd have enough film to shoot War and Peace - including a travelogue and a cartoon."

Despite the original TV movie The Night Stalker chalking up record ratings and a followup TV movie, the resulting weekly TV series featuring Darren McGavin's wisecracking old-school reporter now in Chicago and still driving editor Simon Oakland to despair as he invariably finds himself investigating crimes committed by various supernatural creatures - werewolves on ocean liners, zombie numbers runners, vampire call girls, Satanic politicians and devil dogs, spontaneous combustion and doppelgangers, headless bikers, Jack the Ripper, invisible aliens, shapeshifting medicine men, human sacrificing Aztec mummies, giant lizards, Helen of Troy, the odd succubus and other assorted boogey men and women - only lasted a single season before retreating into cult success in TV syndication. Yet for all that, it cast a long shadow: it's hard to imagine The X-Files ever existing if Kolchak hadn't got there first, while echoes of the episode Mr R.I.N.G., with its escaped robot developing consciousness and a strong survival instinct on the run from the `Tyrell Institute' that wants to kill him resurfaced in Blade Runner.

With original producer Dan Curtis and screenwriter Richard Matheson not returning for the series after a third TV movie fell through, there's a very noticeable drop in quality from the TV movies, made all the more apparent by the show kicking off with one of the weakest episodes (The Ripper), though the second, The Zombie, is a huge improvement and one of the series' highpoints. The inconsistency tends to run throughout the series, with great episodes alternating with okay ones while some are scuppered by budget limitations - The Werewolf probably has the most slapdash werewolf makeup ever and the less said about the Headless Biker in Chopper the better. More than the lower budget, it's the writing where the difference really makes itself felt: one week the writing might fly, the next it'd still be taxiing on the runway. Where Kolchak was originally a character straight out of a Ben Hecht-Charles MacArthur play, here he's often given jokes to deliver rather than sharp dialogue and there are fewer surprises in the verbal sparring as the series writers initially struggle to find the tone for the show. As a result, the Quixotic exchanges with Severn Darden in The Spanish Moss Murders, the character-rich dialogue and underlying social criticism in Horror in the Heights or vividly drawn guest roles like John Dehner's legendary veteran cop who's more interested in pontificating at length on the human condition than actually doing any investigating in The Knightly Murders and even throwaway lines like "I promised I'd show up with a haircut, a new hat and a pressed suit, but I lie a lot" in Legacy of Terror tend to show up some of the more obviously rushed writing in the weaker episodes by contrast.

Even with reported constant rewrites during shooting, some of the plots became more formulaic, with Kolchak eventually despatching the monster of the week but never getting the proof he needs to get his story published. Indeed, problems with the scripts and McGavin's discomfort with the way the series was headed (he wanted to drop the supernatural angle which was the show's USP) led to only 20 of the 26 scripts being shot and the star being released from his contract at his own request after a single season. Whether that's a good thing or not is debatable: apparently most of the unfilmed scripts were poor with little expectation of a second season showing much improvement, yet the later episodes did show marked signs of development away from the humans: good (well, at least those not in officialdom), monsters: bad archetype. The creature in The Sentry has a perfectly reasonable motive to kill even if it does owe more than a little to Star Trek episode The Devil in the Dark while Legacy of Terror actually humanises its `perfect victim' by revealing him not to be a fanatic but someone who can only look forward to a short life lost in the cracks anyway. Extremely well directed by TV veteran Don MacDougall, it manages to inject a layer of real humanity and surprising compassion to Kolchak with the beautifully underplayed line "Who says you have to be a box boy?", one of the few moments in the series to show him thinking of something more than just getting his story and a surprisingly powerful one.

Despite all the problems, at its best it's still a great mixture of hardboiled newspaper movie and horror movie and even though not every episode is a gem it still offers a surprisingly high success rate and a lot of fun. There are some interesting names on the credits too. Among the familiar faces in the guest roles are Phil Silvers, Carolyn Jones (the original Morticia Adams), Julie Adams (the object of The Creature From the Black Lagoon's attentions), Henry Brandon (Scar in The Searchers), John Fiedler (the voice of Piglet in the Disney Winnie the Pooh cartoons), Antonio Fargas playing what could be seen as an early draft of Starsky and Hutch's Huggy Bear as a Haitian mobster, Marvin Miller (the voice of Robbie the Robot), Jim Backus (the voice of Mr Magoo and James Dean's father in Rebel Without a Cause), William Daniels, Nina Foch, Tom Skerritt, Keenan Wynn, Richard Kiel, Jay Robinson, Victor Jory, William Smith, John Hoyt, John Marley, George Savalas and Larry Linville and Jamie Farr from M*A*S*H as well as familiar know-the-face-but-not-the-name character players like Ned Glass, William O'Connell and Douglas Fowley. One of the weakest stories, Chopper, was the first script Back to the Future creators Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale sold, Horror in the Heights, one of the show's best scripts, is by veteran Hammer horror writer Jimmy Sangster, David Chase, creator of The Sopranos, wrote eight episodes and was story consultant on the series, while a dozen episodes boast scores by Sam Peckinpah's regular composer Jerry Fielding.

Playback's 5-disc set doesn't include the original two TV movies, which are currently only available as a double-bill in the US (the rights belong to a different company), but it does include all 20 episodes of the series. Unfortunately, the picture quality isn't all it could be - while MGM/UA's double-bill of the original TV movies boasted pin-sharp quality, these are soft with occasionally oversaturated color, frequent soft definition and a few instances of print damage, making it clear that no real restoration or effort to get the best picture quality has been made (a bit of a recurring problem with Playback's 70s TV shows). Nor are there any extras, giving it the feeling of a most-expenses-spared release. Yet for all the problems, it's acceptable and the show is definitely worth checking out.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars KOLCHAK IS BACK TO FIGHT THE MONSTERS !!, 12 July 2006
By 
NEO "Daren" (orpington kent) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Kolchak - The Night Stalker: Complete Series [DVD] (DVD)
Where monsters tread , only Karl Kolchak dares to follow, the down at heal reporter with a gift for snappy patter and a nose for the supernatural. Barely tolerated by his grumpy Editor Tony Vincenzo & despised by the cops. Kolchak only armed with a tape recorder , into which he narrates his mission for truth. He follows the monsters , Ghosts , Vampires in this 20 part series. He never gets taken seriously by his peers so he never gets his story on the front pages. Kolchak is brilliantly played by Darren Mcgavin which really lifts this otherwise dated series from the rest. The special effects are now quite comical and not very scary but the stories themselves sre well written and have stood the test of time since 1974.

So here finally we have this series on Dvd from Universal Pictures. All 20 , 50 minute episodes which I hope are un-cut in this issue. This is a must for all x-files fans and Kolchak alike and is a real treat to see at long last.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A HIDDEN GEM, 22 April 2014
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This review is from: Kolchak - The Night Stalker: Complete Series [DVD] (DVD)
I greatly enjoyed watching this again, truly cult viewing. Sadly the two classic TV movies that preceded this series are not here and the episodes suffer slightly from obvious budget limitations but the underrated Darren McGavin ( catch him in two excellent segments of The Name of the Game if you can find them ) carries the whole thing off with great aplomb and the series retains the sense of humour and occasionally, the suspense of the films. Looking back it is just as well the series wasn't a success as there was only so far it could go but it remains great fun at a good price. No extras though, I'm afraid.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The series that inspired the X files, 8 April 2014
By 
Sussman "Sussman" (London CA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Kolchak - The Night Stalker: Complete Series [DVD] (DVD)
A series based on Kolchak as a reporter for the Chicago branch of the Independent News Service. Kolchak is a gifted investigative reporter with an attraction for unusual and paranormal occurrences, the viewer see him procuring evidence driving around Chicago in his yellow Ford Mustang convertible. Kolchak has persistently cracked several cases relying on gut instinct and often through sheer dumb luck. But more often than not, Kolchak's prospects are hindered by the complete obliteration of any or all proof to verify his claims. On other occasions his investigations have led to demotion or transfer of variable authority figures, the reasons for which are never truthfully disclosed, and hence feeding the viewer's believe of a cover up. As a youth I caught this series late nights on the TV and found the whole series rather spooky and scary at times. Kolchak was played by Darren McGavin, and he really brought a unique feel to the show. The show may seem dated by today's standards but for me this was and is a cult classic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the original x file investigator, 17 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Kolchak - The Night Stalker: Complete Series [DVD] (DVD)
They guy who played kolchack was actually in an x file episode .I forget the name but it was about an alien
Pretending to be an baseball player and was on the run.very good story. It's said the the creator of the x files
Based hiss ideas on rollback

Be advised that this Dvd collection how ever good waste made for the late 70s and does not include no cgi and not
Include
The night stalker tv movie in the collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tale Of Two Box-Sets..., 20 Oct 2013
By 
Hal Marshall "I Write Books!" (Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Having finally managed to get myself a cheap and easy-to-hack DVD player Toshiba SD1015KB DVD Player (New for 2013), my very first Region 1 port of call was 'Kolchak: The Night Stalker'. That is, if we don't count the several hours I spent to begin with admiring, in an entirely macho way, the late great Robert Stack's work in a whole plethora of 'Unsolved Mysteries'. Assuming that we're not counting them (and I really won't mind if we don't, believe me), this three disc box-set was the first thing I watched through in its entirety once I had reduced that DVD player to a quivering and utterly submissive husk. In other words, after I'd engaged it in battle with its proven nemesis - its region coding hack. And I did watch it through in its entirety too. There was no freeze-framing during the bits where the star of the show looked especially mean and moody, no zooming in on any of the performers: as such, it was entirely unlike my experiences with 'Unsolved Mysteries'. Apart from anything else, the mysteries Kolchak comes across are always solved; it's just that the strange solutions are invariably always going to be too much for his delicate readers to be able to handle. Oh, not that Darren McGavin is any less attractive than Robert Stack, you understand...

Hm, just how many entirely innocent man-crushes is a bloke permitted to have before people start asking awkward questions I wonder...?

Now, I must stress that I did buy the US Import collection of these 20 episodes. That's important, because Amazon seem to be combining the reviews of that product and the regular UK release that came on to the market several years later. I can see why that might be a really cool idea, except that some very important details may become confused with an approach like that and I should just like to set the record straight. Irrespective of what the product details say for the US Import collection, this product is definitely Region 1. If you're not living in the USA or Canada, then you are not supposed to be seen in the company of this version. Which is a great pity, since that seems to be the only way you can get any subtitles to the show. And they're in English and Spanish, just in case you were wondering.

In terms of storylines and plots and technical stuff like that, other reviewers have already said what I would have said. And they've probably said it better than I would have done too. They've already mentioned that this show was severely underrated and has really only begun to be properly appreciated relatively recently. Others have already made reference to the fantastic comedy that comes from the wonderful little double act of Darren McGavin (Kolchak, the dishevelled hack) and Simon Oakland (Tony, his longsuffering boss).

I've always viewed this show as more of a comedy than anything else, due to the scripts themselves, the way the actors play things and, let's not forget, the somewhat ropy special effects. Although, that is not to say that there aren't some genuinely creepy moments to be found. Thankfully, there is no gore and the violence is generally left to the viewers' own imagination. And, when a dead body is discovered or when the camera cuts away from the scene in order to spare us some presumably grisly details, there is always Kolchak's dry little voiceover to lift the mood. That's one of the slightly overlooked strengths of the whole show for me - we hear what would seem to be Kolchak's voice speaking into his reporter's tape recorder, but it actually provides a very effective and humorous method of linking the scenes of each show together. We are out there driving through downtown Chicago with Kolchak, as he shares all his thoughts with us at every turn. We never do get a chance to ask him why he seems to own only one suit or why he wears a hat that Worzel Gummidge himself would have doubtless chucked on to the compost heap years ago. Well no, of course we don't - we've got twenty infinitely more interesting mysteries to solve!

My absolute favourite episode, bar none, is 'The Knightly Murders'. It contains almost no suspense (apart from an Oscar-worthy scream of pure terror from the lady who has just discovered she's next on a homicidal suit of armour's hit-list) but it boasts an immense amount of comedy and I seem to find new things to laugh at every time I watch it. Darren McGavin could say so much with a wide-eyed look or a brilliantly-timed double-take that it is a real pleasure to watch him at work.

In terms of video quality, the shows are nothing special. But the stories are so well-presented and so very entertaining that it is only now, when I am trying to cast a critical eye over things, that I realise that I have never before even been aware of it. Much more distracting to me is the endless parade of guest stars who, being mostly familiar to me from shows of the later 70s and early 80s (step forward Sorrell Booke, Erik Estrada, Tom Bosley and Larry Linville) do unfortunately remind me just how old 'Kolchak: The Night Stalker' actually is. And, since three quarters of that illustrious line-up (plus Darren McGavin and Simon Oakland themselves) are now sadly very much pushing up the daisies, that alone makes this show look older than it really deserves to.

Nevertheless, 'Kolchak: The Night Stalker' is endlessly entertaining and very highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kolchak - The Night Stalker, 15 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Kolchak - The Night Stalker: Complete Series [DVD] (DVD)
I bought this out of nostalgia as I remember being slightly scared by the themes. The box set is real good value and there are plenty of episodes to enjoy with some being better than others. On the whole, I am glad to have bought it and can recommend it to those who like creepy films about vampires, monsters and shape shifters that are not dripping with gore.
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