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The Night Strangler (1973) — Episode 87 — Decades of Horror 1970s

“This is the story behind the most incredible series of murders to ever occur in the city of Seattle, Washington. You never read about them in your local newspapers or heard about them on your local radio or television station. Why? Because the facts were watered down, torn apart, and reassembled… in a word, falsified.” Join your faithful Grue Crew – Doc Rotten, Chad Hunt, Bill Mulligan, and Jeff Mohr – as once again they hang with Carl Kolchak, this time in Seattle, as he solves the case of The Night Strangler (1973).

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 87 — The Night Strangler (1973)

After the success of The Night Stalker in 1972, Dan Curtis gathered the gang back together and the result was The Night Strangler. The gang, of course, included Richard Matheson to write the screenplay, and Darren McGavin and Simon Oakland to reprise their roles as Carl Kolchak and Tony Vincenzo. This time, producer Curtis would also direct and Bob Cobert would again provide the music. In his second appearance, Kolchak is after a killer that inhabits the Seattle Underground. His investigation discovers that six women have been murdered every 21 years since 1868, and guess what? Nobody believes Kolchak.

The crew of The Night Strangler is rounded out by seasoned veterans: cinematographer Robert B. Hauser and editor Folmar Blangsted. Curtis then gathered up some of the best character actors in the business to support McGavin and Oakland, including Jo Ann Pflug, Scott Brady, Wally Cox, Margaret Hamilton, John Carradine, Al Lewis, and last, but not least, Richard Anderson.

The Grue Crew loves The Night Strangler, almost without exception. Bill is not quite as enthusiastic as the rest but proclaims, “There is no bad Kolchak. There’s only great Kolchak and good Kolchak.” He also points out that Matheson’s script included one of the earliest depictions of a lesbian relationship on network TV, presenting Virginia Peters and Nina Wayne as husband and wife in a fairly matter-of-fact, sympathetic way. Chad once again voices his love, love, love for all things Kolchak with particular emphasis on the extra dose of humor n this outing. Doc is the Johnny-come-lately of the group as this was his first viewing of The Night Strangler, but that didn’t diminish his love for the film. In his view, this is when the relationship between Kolchak and Vincenzo depicted in the TV-series begins to take shape. Jeff also loves The Night Strangler despite its flaws, and provides a sampling of some of the extras included on the new Kino Lorber Blu-ray and pronounces it well worth the purchase price. As for as Richard Anderson? Long live Oscar Goldman!

If it’s been a bit since you’ve seen The Night Strangler, give yourself a treat. McGavin’s and Oakland’s energetic performances are a joy to watch and the constant stream of legendary supporting actors are the frosting on this Kolchak cake. 

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Jeff Mohr
Jeff lives smack dab in the middle of the cornfields of Iowa and is a long-time horror fan. His first remembered encounters with the genre were The Wizard of Oz, Tarzan gorilla chases, and watching the first broadcast of The Twilight Zone episode, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." While he now qualifies as an old fart, he strives to be an Old Boy. Paraphrasing Robert Bloch, he has the heart of a small boy. He keeps it in a jar on his desk. Jeff has written for and SQ Horror Magazine. He currently writes for Gruesome Magazine and is a co-host of the Decades of Horror podcasts - The Classic Era, 1970s, and 1980s - and the Gruesome Magazine Podcast.