harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

Movie Reviewed: The Night Strangler (second)


Scene 47: Later, Carl barges in on Captain Schubert in his office and won’t allow the officer at the desk to keep him out. Carl is there to complain about police women not being placed as decoys on the waterfront streets to trap their murderer in the act.

He further tells the Scott that he only has five days left to catch the killer before he pulls a vanishing act. The Captain treats this news with sarcasm before pointing out to Kolchak that they have, in fact, checked out the same sources as he did when they first heard about this theory of a 21 year killing cycle. He begins to separate the facts reported in the prior cases from the speculation that Carl placed on those actual stark facts, which don’t nearly neatly line up the way that Kolchak insisted they do.

As the Captain lays out the facts that both of them have clearly considered in the same light, Schubert asks why - if all of these deaths are related - did they find no evidence of rotted flesh around the neck of Gladys just the other night? And why, if this is a subhuman killer with a rotted disposition, did an eyewitness to the last killing of 1952 report the perpetrator as “rather handsome” rather than the ghoulish appearance described by Kolchak in his sensational article?

He finalizes by asking why he’s wasting his time with a man who can’t be bothered to report actual facts, rather than wild speculations hiding as such? He tries to get Carl out of his office.

Kolchak goes on to repeat that the killer is going to disappear after one more murder and he’ll be missing again for the next 21 years. The other “facts” be damned. The Captain again argues the inconsistency in the killer’s description and wonders where is the face of the ghoul that Carl chose to print in his rag, but Kolchak shouts back that he saw the face of their killer when he was, somehow, superhumanly wiping the streets with the bodies of his supposed police force.

This causes the Captain to slam his office door closed and return to his desk where he glares at Carl. He shouts at Carl that for somebody who has only been in town for less than two weeks, he’s managed to interfere in official police business, barged around the station like he owns the place, terrorized and misinformed the public with his yellow journalism and mashed on toes everywhere that he goes. He tells him to get out and stay out or he’ll be taking a trip to jail for interfering in an active investigation.

Carl shouts at him to at least check the underground where the killer is certainly hiding, but Captain Schubert tells him the killer isn’t hiding there, because they already performed a thorough check of Old Seattle for a lair. He sarcastically confirms for Carl that yes, they actually conducted searches and investigations without consulting his expertise.

Commentary: I really liked the flip that was done here with the irresponsible-authority-figure scene. It was nice to see Kolchak momentarily shut down by the very fact that the “evidence” he was turning up to prove his wild theories wasn’t even completely accurate as told to us through Carl. It was great that the police were shown to have considered and looked at the evidence for even so crazy a theory as Kolchak’s that the earlier series of murders could’ve been related somehow to the current serial they have running around. It was also nice that the Captain intimates that they may’ve been more open to his input if he hadn’t started immediately by playing the bull in the china shop, basically insulting and badgering everyone in his path instead of trying to work with the police with whatever he thought he’d uncovered.

It’s not clear that handling things differently would’ve gotten him anywhere, especially considering the role the Police Captain is fulfilling, but it’s nice when the self-righteous, blustering hero is called out for twisting incomplete evidence and being boorish in their own certitude and acting like they alone know how to actually look at evidence.

Scene 48: Back in the bullpen, Kolchak is busy typing when Vincenzo’s voice echoes across the room for him to come into his office. Everyone recognizes the “you’re in trouble” tone in Tony’s voice.

And Kolchak is. Even before they reach his office, and without bothering to close the door, Vincenzo starts yelling at Carl for not listening to him about not barging into the police station blustering. Captain Schubert phoned the owner, and Llewellyn Crossbinder called Tony to tear him a new one about his new hire.

Carl tries to ask why Crossbinder would be putting Tony in his crosshairs to Tony’s utter disbelief. He shouts that Carl barged into the Captain’s office, accusing him of suppressing facts and then trying to tell him how to run his investigation. Kolchak points out that Schubert is suppressing the facts. Carl goes on to argue his theory about the killer hanging out in the underground, as it is the only thing that makes sense for how he continually manages to vanish. Kolchak tells Vincenzo that he has to get Crossbinder to pressure the police to do what he, Carl Kolchak, wants them to do.

You can imagine the shocked laughter that escapes Tony as he stares at Kolchak like he’s actually, for real, gone mad right there in front of him.

Tony tells Carl as much, but Kolchak turn it around and accuses Tony Vincenzo of losing his guts and selling out.

Tony kicks Carl off of The Night Strangler story. He tells Tony that he’s getting very old. He gets shouted out of Vincenzo’s office.

Commentary: I really liked this scene more than I thought I would, considering we’ve already seen Tony and Carl butting heads so many time. But the actor chemistry between Simon and Darren continues to work and I just found this scene a bit fun, and a bit uncomfortable as I really did think that this blowout was going to end with their friendship/whatever-it-is breaking apart. I expected Kolchak to find himself unemployed, rather than just off of this particular story.

I was cute to end the scene with Tony yelling for Carl to get out of his office, and Carl shouting back he’s out of his office and both of them going back to work.

Scene 49: Well, if there is one thing you can say about Carl Kolchak, it is that he’s persistent. Instead of finding something else to work on, he returns to Mr. Berry in the paper’s archive, where the man tells him that he did find just one other clue to share about the 21 year-string of murders they’ve uncovered together.

The article located was from the time of Twain, and Mark was being interviewed by a reporter. Mark Twain mentioned speaking to a doctor who insisted to him that physical immortality may be achievable and practical, defying the common wisdom on man’s place in the universe. Mr. Twain helpfully gave a name in the interview for one Dr. Richard Malcolm. Carl slyly asks Mr. Berry if he happened to locate anything on their mysterious doctor with the wild theory. He gets a nod.

It’s only a small item, but [Wally] goes and fetches another book of old articles. The article is about a newly opened hospital, in which the doctor was a founding member. Being from the time of the civil war, there isn’t a picture but a drawing with the man’s name. Carl is stunned that their murderer could actually really be as old as they’re suggesting.

Carl asks hopefully if the hospital is still standing, but it isn’t. Conveniently however, there is a clinic in the same spot, which is enough for Kolchak.

Scene 50: Kolchak rushes to the clinic, looking to see if perhaps they may have any records at all from the old Westside Mercy Hospital. As Mr. Berry continued to look for any traces of their mysterious doctor, Carl stops with a look of amazement just in side the lobby of the clinic.

He spots something right there that has him cut in line of a woman about to enter the phone booth [go off to the wiki if you need to know what one of these was… also, I hate you], to make an urgent call.

He won’t be dissuaded by the angry stare the woman gives him through the door.

Scene 51: Next, we see Mr. Berry also arrive to the clinic spiffed up in a black suit and tie and with his hair combed back. He finds a crowd gathered and laughing at something, while a nurse shouts at somebody to stop what he’s doing or she’ll call the police.

Unsurprisingly, it’s Carl Kolchak who is the center of attention. Carl has been busy defacing a photograph hanging of Dr. Malcolm Richards, founder of the modern clinic sitting on this site.

But a black marker lets Kolchak turn him into his Civil War twin image, to which he is immensely pleased with himself.

Mr. Berry is pleased and stunned by the likeness to their quarry. Kolchak is still standing there with a self-pleased grin on his face over this find when the police arrive to arrest the vandal. Well, to be fair, the nurse did warn him that they’d be called.

Commentary: This scene was a little bit overmuch since we could guess that such a lame alias as Malcolm Richards would in fact be Richard Malcolm, the immortal killer Carl seeks. And it doesn’t seem like it was necessary for Carl to make a public spectacle of himself by defaming the photograph when he could’ve just gotten a copy from a public source, so ultimately he was just making a dick move.

But I’ll be darned if Darren’s “shit eating grin” didn’t win me over, anyway. But really, that may just be because I’ve found that I have a weakness for the good guys who act like assholes [see Xander Harris and Dean Winchester as well]. The scene left me smiling at the antics despite the stupidity of getting arrested by making such a public scene of vandalism.

Scene 52: Cut to the Captain smiling nearly as widely as Kolchak had been. You can imagine just how tickled Schubert is to see Carl in cuffs at his desk. Also there are Vincenzo and Crossbinder.

Carl pleads with Tony to get him to get the police to release him. Crossbinder, however, tells Carl that his employer isn’t going to be much help, since he tells Carl that it’s regrettable that leg irons and mouth blocks were outlawed some time back. Carl goes on to insist that there is a connection between Malcolm Richards at the Richards Clinic and Richard Malcolm of the late Westside Mercy and that these identities are tied to their series of murders, despite how ridiculous it all sounds [and it doesn’t justify his vandalizing a photograph hanging in a very public place to make a point that wasn’t necessary or helpful to make in that way in that place at that time ---  he’s an idiot, in other words].

We’re not shocked to see this met with skepticism. But more, Llewellyn is personally outraged at Kolchak’s preposterous slander against one of Seattle’s local “saints”.

Scene 53: As Carl is trying to convince everyone that he isn’t crazy or just making wild tabloid crap up, Mr. Berry arrives with a file folder of the findings of his search for Doctor Richard Malcolm. His search revealed that Dr. Malcolm arrived to Seattle back in the 1860’s from New York. It turns out that New York had just had a series of six women strangled to death while he was there. These murders just as mysteriously stopped as soon as Richard was no longer living there. The condition of the murdered women corresponds with the bodies they’ve had lately.

Carl goes on comparing years, finding that the New York murders were exactly 21 years prior to the first killings reported in Seattle. Kolchak naturally delivers all of this news with a smug attitude of righteousness, delivered specifically to Vincenzo as if it doesn’t make the entire notion of an immortal killer wandering the country any more unbelievable than it was before.

Although, when Schubert tries to interject, Crossbinder suddenly seems willing to hear out the rest of Kolchak’s “evidence”. Mr. Berry gives Carl the artwork from two different time periods showing the eerie similarities in the two doctor’s looks, as they could (naturally) be twins… or the same man….

A silence meets the end of Kolchak’s presentation, and suddenly everyone in the room actually seems to be considering that there is something here in Carl’s claims, even if they don’t know exactly what. Captain Schubert asks sarcastically what he thinks they should do with this speculation and Kolchak repeats his earlier suggestions about police women to lure the suspect out, a thorough and complete search of the underground and for the Chronicle to print his articles.

He, of course, puts forth these suggestions is such a way as to come off as an ass [as is his way, and ergo why nobody seems to ever want to believe/help him: clearly Fox Mulder emulates him a bit too closely decades later].

Carl’s cuffs are removed and he’s escorted into the hallway while Captain, Llewellyn and Tony discuss the situation. He smirks his way out of the room the whole way.

Commentary: Argh, Carl just drives me crazy. We know, of course, that he’s right about it all but it just bugs me that he can’t seem to realize just how this is going to sound from outside of his perspective, and worse, he goes out of his way to be obnoxious and ‘Mr. Know It All’ about his findings so that everyone is always on the defensive.

Despite McGavin’s charm, you can easily see why people would start any conversation with wanting to punch Carl in the nose, rather than give a fair hearing to his outrageous claims, since he really doesn’t seem to understand that despite whatever evidence he believes supports his argument, the claims themselves ARE outrageous.

It’s another character trait that Fox Mulder hews to, which makes him equally unsuccessful in changing minds about the theories he espouses from his FBI basement office. Both men come across as kooks because they don’t seem to notice that their suppositions sound kooky and neither does anything to try to sound completely rational or skeptical of their own findings at any time which could moderate how outlandish they sound when they start getting emotional about being disbelieved.

Scene 54: Once the meeting is over, Tony informs Carl that he was able to talk Kolchak out of his arrest. But there is a catch: obvs they’re not going to be running the story about an alchemist who kills women for their blood in order to create a youth serum.

Carl is outraged. Worse, he’s angry because he knows that another woman is going to die before their killer escapes justice for another 21 years.

Tony yells at him that they don’t want to panic the entire city on his say so. Carl looks betrayed. Tony tells him what his next assignment is going to be to cover the Daffodil Festival, and he’s lucky Mr. Crossbinder gave him that. Tony storms off.

Scene 55: Well, Kolchak decides to forego Daffodils in order to try to lure the killer himself with Louise acting as bait by walking the lonely streets of the area with Carl following behind.

Louise agreed immediately, angered by the deaths of both of her co-performers. But they needed to keep an eye out for the police also cruising the area.

After such a patrol car goes by with Carl and Louise ducking into different alleys for a few minutes, Carl tells Louise she needs to stop looking around like she’s suspicious and walk naturally. She complains she’s scared, but he assures her that he’s right behind her.

[Which he was, much too closely for anyone to have bothered attacking her unless they had a gun, which we know our serial killer doesn’t. I’d be more concerned about a robber coming out of a dark alley and accosting them both for their purse and wallet than Louise being attacked by their strangler.]

Scene 56: Carl’s voiceover as Louise walks the dark streets reveal that they’ve been at it for three nights and so far, no attacks. But at least there hadn’t been a sixth body found yet either, so they still weren’t too late to stop the Strangler.

It was the fourth night when Louise was getting far ahead of Carl, as he had to duck behind a tree to avoid a roving police unit. They delay Carl’s keeping up with Louise because they stop to call in on a callbox.

Scene 57: Meanwhile, Louise doesn’t know that she’s not being followed anymore. She reaches the mouth of a dark alley, the perfect place to make herself a target.

She considers going in, but tells herself no. But it turns out that she’s telling herself not to look back for Carl this time. She steels her nerve and goes into the alley.

Scene 58: Meanwhile, Carl has to nervously bide his time as an officer stands close enough to reach out and touch to have a cigarette. They finally proceed on their way and Carl scrambles after the last direction he saw Louise head.

Scene 59: Meanwhile-meanwhile, Louise continues her way down the alley feeling brave for not turning around to look for her bodyguard. She doesn’t see that around a corner, a man dressed in dark clothes and overcoat is heading in an intercept direction for where she’s headed.

Scene 60: Carl arrives at the mouth of the alley, but doesn’t see Louise at the far end. He believes that he must’ve missed her turn down the block she would’ve passed and runs back the way he came.

Scene 61: This leaves Louise vulnerable to skulker. Louise screams of fright, but it turns out that her menacer isn’t the strangler but a patrol car that was sitting with its lights off keeping watch.

Fool-Girl is intercepted by the police and taken into custody for being out after the curfew, as Carl is running all over the alleyways trying to find out frantically which direction she went in.

He’s in time to see with a mixture of relief and frustration, the cops picking up Louise.

And she’s not the only one: A heartbeat later, Schubert’s car pulls up behind Kolchak to also take him into custody. Our murderer, ducked into a doorwell, watches and realizes his narrow escape from falling into a trap.

Commentary: This whole scene really kind of bugs me. I like the way it’s filmed and I felt really nervous for Louise, so that all works for me. What really bugged me is that they have Carl tagging behind her without a weapon of any sort. What was Kolchak’s thinking if Louise did get attacked -- take a photo of her murder? He’s already been tossed around, as well as seeing several police officers suffering the same, like a rag doll. Did he think that he could actually capture the suspect in hand to hand? Was he just going to flash bulb him… what would that have accomplished, he already knows that the killer isn’t looking like Richard Malcolm/Malcolm Richards currently by eyewitness testimony because of the serum wearing off, so snapping a photo doesn’t seem all that useful toward identifying the doctor as the culprit. I just don’t see what the logic was in Carl’s attempted set-up. They could’ve at least had Carl show Louise that he was carrying a blackjack to protect her if their plan worked.

Scene 62: With Louise a bust, our killer finds a women working late in a restaurant doing her nightly books for the day’s tally. For some reason, she does this in the practical dark.

She looks at the door with sudden fright as she hears someone messing with the doorknob. She shouts at whoever is there that they’re closed. Whoever seems to have taken the hint, but she’s left alone to nervously look out the windows for the shadow figure.

When she finally rests her mind enough to return to her work, there is a muddled yell and then the shadow figure comes jumping through the restaurant’s window. She alas doesn’t run to the kitchen for a weapon, but chooses the old “stand against a wall and scream” survival technique.

This doesn’t work. As she’s being strangled, she alas doesn’t try raking her nails across her assailant’s eyes, but chooses the “arms at my sides, making horrified face” tactic. This also, alas, doesn’t work out for her.

Commentary: This attack really disappointed me in its execution. One, I hate when female victims don’t do anything to defend themselves, like this poor woman. You’d think simple instinct would drive her to beat her fists at her attacker at the very least but no… she stands there.

But what I was disappointed more by was the fact I had this whole commentary about how Seattle’s old city provided tunnels that were just as effective as Sunnydale’s, and now I can’t use it. Considering that the killer knows the underworld beneath Seattle’s city streets well, they really lost an opportunity by having the killer suddenly grab her from behind as she sat at her table and have this be the proof to the police Captain that Kolchak was at least correct about the killer using the old city as a means of escaping their dragnet. They could’ve had a neighbor heard the screaming and found our latest victim inside a locked room with no obvious means of egress and with police responding too quickly for their killer to have otherwise escaped detection.

Instead we get this ridiculous leap through a window and foolish animal growling, while arm waving like a WWF villain wrestler character. It was clumsy and silly when they had a perfect set up already waiting to both kill this sixth woman and provide evidence of how the killer keeps disappearing on them.

Scene 63: We cut to patrol cars with their lights and sirens blaring rushing through the night.

At the police station, everyone is in a state of controlled chaos. While Kolchak getting his things, being released again, he voiceovers that even Schubert seemed to realize that they’d lost their chance to get their murderer with this sixth kill.

Tony Vincenzo, there to post the bail for Carl and Louise was also clearly believing in the 21-year cycle, according to Carl’s continued voiceover. Kolchak can’t resist a frustrated “I told you so” at the passing Schubert. Vincenzo tells Carl to shut up and is fit to be tied that he wasn’t out on the specific assignment he was given by his boss and his boss’ boss, instead trying to play some sort of cheapjack vigilante.

Louise asks Carl what he did “to that poor man”, claiming that she’s never seen anyone so close to being stark raving mad, before. Vincenzo in the meantime is slapping money on the officer’s desk for the bail, shaking, sweaty, and looking like he’s about to have a stroke with the aggravation that Kolchak is causing [and probably anger and guilt at himself that he wasn’t more forceful in standing on Carl’s side when he tried to tell everyone what was actually happening… just like in Las Vegas].

A pair of cops walks by with one of them telling the other that they had the suspect cornered behind the Richards Clinic when he simply vanished in a blink. Carl watches them walk away with a thoughtful look on his face.

Commentary: See my earlier complaint: This is really a clumsy device to give Kolchak a return to the clinic to find the entranceway to the underground city ruins. But it isn’t necessary -- the police should already be all over that possibility, especially with the sudden disappearance of the suspect there. They should be tearing apart the place and finding that tunnel access he had to have used.

And none of this would be necessary if they’d gone with the locked room mystery route for the sixth victim, instead of that ridiculously filmed sequence they chose.

Scene 64: Later in front of the Richard’s Clinic [where there is zero police activity, unbelievably], Kolchak voiceovers that it took him an hour to escape from Vincenzo’s ranting and only because he promised to head straight home for bed.

Naturally, he didn’t. He and Louise make their way to the clinic past another police patrol to find a secret entrance to the underground that their strangling doctor had to have used to escape. Carl guesses that the entrance has to be in the Clinic’s basement and he and Louise break in through a cellar window.

Commentary: See? No. No. The police would be in there right now searching every inch for the way the killer made it out of there. It doesn’t matter if they think he was in the building or in the alley, they’d be searching every building on the block and they’d find this secret passage that Carl is about to locate.

This part of the “crusading reporter” plot cannot work if the police don’t do the police stuff and leave the reporter to “think outside the box” in coming to the solution. This isn’t thinking outside of the box, this is obvious police work that the cops would be doing already territory and that annoys me because it’s setting up the hero to look smarter than he is by forcing the experts to act stupidly. It’s just bad writing when you have to make other characters look deliberately incompetent in order to inflate the good guy’s hero credentials.

Scene 65: In the basement, Carl and Louise stalk along through the boiler room. Carl ends up in a series of maintenance and air flow tunnels beneath the building. We shaky-cam with Carl as he finds a trap door leading down into the abandoned old city.

He tells Louise to give him 30 minutes and then call the police with his whereabouts, while he goes into the hidden city in order to get his exclusive.

Scene 66: In the underground, he finds the old sign for Westside Mercy Hospital: The private world of Dr. Richard Malcolm.

Carl wanders, wanders, wanders [for an inordinate amount of time].

Eventually, he finds the remains of Homeless Man stuffed in a clothes closet by bumping into it while taking random photos of nothing killer story related.

He yells, he bumps into things and makes a racket. He double checks on Homeless Man, who appears to have died of a head injury.

Commentary: But you’ll note that he doesn’t actually take a photograph, which seems highly out of character to me.

Scene 67: Kolchak wanders, wanders, wanders [for an inordinate amount of time, redux].

He eventually enters the remains of a grand hotel lobby [which has an appropriate-environment causing fog machine hose clearly laid behind some foreground covering -- the doctor enjoys his haunted house ambiance, obvs].

Commentary: Okay, look. Obviously a LOT of hard work went into the sets for the old, buried Seattle and somebody wanted to get their money’s worth. But this scene is drawn out way too long, with Kolchak taking photos of cobwebby furniture which I find highly questionable as valuable at this time. It’s also irritating me that after finding the Homeless Guy with his head bashed in, he doesn’t reach for a pipe or something to carry with him … since, y’know, he went to look for a serial killer with great strength unarmed in the first place.

I’m going to say that this movie runs about 20 minutes too long for me.

Scene 68: Kolchak suddenly hears the sounds of a phonograph coming from in the distance. When he follows the sound, he finds a table set with desiccated corpses seated.

He foolishly turns off the record player, pointing out once again that the super strong killer has an intruder, in case he wasn’t already aware.

Carl finds a painting on the wall of Dr. Malcolm with presumably his family seated on a porch. One wonders if the dead around the dinner table are in fact the people in the painting relocated for our Doctor’s company.

He further finds that one place setting at the table has fresh food on a plate, despite the rats down here, and a cup of tea laid out. He gingerly places a finger tip in the tea to find it still hot to the touch [despite the lack of steam, pointing to lukewarm as more likely].

This doesn’t give him pause at moving around with his back to an opened doorway as he takes another photo. Which is why he’s taken by surprise when Richard is suddenly standing behind him and snatches him up to throw him around.

Commentary: This scene is okay, but the set up for Kolchak to be attacked was just too telegraphed to work as a jump scare and the table setting tableau was a bit off to take advantage of the creep factor.

Instead of having the table covered in webs, dirt and rats what they should’ve done was have the entire room trashed EXCEPT for this table where Richard was clearly eating with his “family” at night. That should’ve been the only immaculate piece of furniture in the room and his family, while desiccated should’ve been dressed in freshly pressed suits and new, bright dresses to really emphasize the wrongness and creep factor.

Scene 69: Karl is tossed to the floor and finally gets a good look at his Strangler foe. It turns out to be Oscar Goldman with a red face and a scar above his right eye.

Unlike Janos, Richard doesn’t immediately try to slay Carl. He instead simply gives him a blank glare and asks who he is and how he came to be down there with him. When Kolchak tells him about finding the entrance in his clinic basement, Richard is confused and claims no knowledge of any clinic.

While Carl tries to back away, Richard stalks him while asking questions about why he’d come down there to disturb his home. He recognizes Kolchak from somewhere and Carl reminds him of the alley brawl, but Dr. Malcolm doesn’t seem to have clear memories of … well… anything, really.

When Carl tells him he’s come to learn about him for his readers, Richard asks the dead people if they believe what they just heard. He assures Kolchak that nobody is going to hear from him again. Carl tries to leave, but Richard tells him that he’s profaned his world and his existence there can’t be permitted.

Carl claims to be only a lonely reporter doing his job, which Richard seems to consider; He compliments Kolchak on his groveling skills.

After consulting with his dead relatives [apparently his wife and children], he offers to tell Carl his life story before he kills him.

Scene 70: Carl is escorted to an elevator and taken to another room in the city, while Richard tells Kolchak that he learned that a secret ingredient would make the elixir he brews work if he included a sample of blood taken from women in the seven seconds after their deaths from their brains.

[He conveniently decides not to bore us with how exactly one would come up with this sort of conclusion while brewing a potion to do the impossible. He may be a serial killer, but at least he’s conscious about not wasting other people’s valuable time. I’m speaking of us, of course. Carl isn’t going to care since his time is going to be stolen, anyway.]

He gives us a potted history of the elixir and his taking it. Ultimately, he’d hoped to refine the process and make it a boon to all mankind [you know, if you ignore women being part of that boon].

But in 1889, he suffered a double tragedy. His family died but he also found that the elixir didn’t last permanently as he had thought, but that he’d have to kill again to renew himself.

Scene 71: Kolchak is escorted into the lab of Dr. Malcolm. Rather than revealing the elixir, he realized that he’d need to perfect it to make it a permanent change first. He began using his extra 21 years at a time trying to crack the formula’s flaw.

Alas for Richard, he turns into a blabbermouth and lets Kolchak know that if he doesn’t take the final stage dose at a particular time on a tight schedule, his thus far rejuvenation will suddenly collapse and time will catch up with him.

Immortality doesn’t give you brains. Or common sense.

Kolchak spots and grabs a paper weight and throws this at Richard’s flask of elixir juuuusssst as he’s about to take it. Richard has the gall to look shocked and then get angry.

They play around-the-table tag for a minute before Carl unwisely makes a run for it. Richard’s deterioration isn’t in an instant, so he still has his surprising level of strength. He catches Kolchak and again tosses him like he’s a child. After body slamming him onto some crates, he puts the strangle on him.

But just as Kolchak is looking at the end of his life [and hopefully realizing how bad that baby blue suit with white shoes actually looks --- 1970’s or no], Dr. Malcolm releases him with struggling gasping noises for breath.

With grunts and screams of suffering, Richard suddenly ages. He old man walks back to the shattered beaker. He turns his withered countenance on Carl and asks why, just as the police arrive from Louise’s call.

Rather than be captured or slowly decay any further, Richard launches himself through a boarded up window, falling to his death to the ground below.

Scene 72: Kolchak returns to the bullpen the following day full of joy that one of his big stories will finally see the light of day. He finds his things waiting for him packed into a box.

News Woman [she of the I’ll-be-bait exclamation] points out the front page story and Kolchak smiles before wondering at his stuff in a box again. She gets his attention and points out the sub headline, which reads that the killer was found, but his identity is unknown.

He rushes into Vincenzo’s office with a bellow. Tony proves that he isn’t the killer of Kolchak’s dreams this time by showing him the 20 copies of the original article printed off the press, before Crossbinder interfered and forced a rewrite. The original headline was that a 144 year old killer was found. Tony Vincenzo was actually going to publish the wild story of Kolchak’s a hard fact this time.

This isn’t good enough for Carl who shouts at Vincenzo for being a yellow coward in not marching up to Crossbinder’s office and insisting that true story be printed. He brings up that even Schubert saw the truth, but Vincenzo is just pissed at himself for believing for a few shining moments that his paper would print the truth, however bizarre.

He tells Carl that he’s sorry that he’s also being let go and feels horrible about the whole thing, but Carl takes his anger out on him anyway. He tells Vincenzo not to do him any more favors, which Tony is understandably insulted by as none of this is his fault. Even as managing editor, his hands are tied by the paper’s executives.

Kolchak and Vincenzo end up calling off their friendship/whatever-it-is as Carl sends a knickknack flying at Tony through his office window on his way to storming out of the building. Tony’s phone rings then. It’s Llewellyn summoning him upstairs.

Scene 73: That night, Kolchak is driving around and dictating bitterly into his recorder that he’s had another moment of triumph snatched into the jaws of defeat. Tony Vincenzo’s voice tells him to shut up and let him get some sleep and we pull out our view to see him in the passenger seat.

It turns out that his job wasn’t saved either. They continue to argue about their recent argument about not ever seeing one another again. Kolchak assures Tony that he’s going to love New York and is just lucky that he’s taking him along.

From the back seat, Louise sits up from trying to sleep and offers that she supposes she should feel lucky too. She complains that her life was going along so well, until he showed up outside of her door and now she’s suddenly fleeing a threat to prosecute her [for what exactly isn’t explained, it seems like “loitering” or “breaking a police curfew” would be awfully minor] and has to start over. She further says that she’s had just about enough of listening to anything he has to say.

As the car continues away into the night for its cross country trip, Vincenzo yells irritably for a moment of peace and quiet.

The Good: I was really liking the soundtrack on this tv film, and liked how the music was used or silenced for the scenes.

The chemistry between Simon Oakland and Darren McGavin is really great and I love Vincenzo and Kolchak's interactions.

I also found Jo Ann Pflug charming as Louise.

I really liked the character of Mr. Berry and his key involvement in helping Kolchak with clues.

It was also really nice that the script kept making references to Carl and Tony's experiences in Las Vegas, rather than having them act on this new case in a vacuum.

I really liked how Captain Schubert turned the whole "the hero has to tell the experts how to do their jobs" scene by having Captain Schubert and his men already having carried out every investigative search that Kolchak is yelling at him about. It's unusual for the hero to have his self-righteous outrage deflated and it was a nice moment of the script to have Carl proven to not know more than anyone else, after all.

The Bad: Our real letdown is the "tell, don't show" nature of our inhuman looking killer. We don't get to see our murderer until he's rejuvenated, so he's just a guy by that point. We hear about how gruesome he looks, but other than a sketch that is all we get of the rotted Dr. Malcolm, which is really disappointing.

There are also scenes that become repetitive involving Kolchak's arguments with Tony and [Scott] Schubert that basically involves them shouting about the same things we've already heard them shout about.

The police, as maybe is usual but it's more irritating this time, are given short shrift on the most basic of investigative work and that irritates me. It's one thing for the hero to go off on his own and find the answer, but it's another when experts in a field are treated like completely incompetent morons so that the hero can look better. That is what was done here, especially when Carl finally goes to locate the killer.

The Homeless Guy in the underground was entirely superfluous and wasn't well used. Although Kolchak gave the guy his calling card, it is never made use of and the next time we see this character, he's stuffed in a closet. What point did the interlude with him have then, other than padding the running time?

The scenes of Kolchak wandering through Old Seattle underground dragged on way too long to show off the sets. But worse, once he finds the killer, The Strangler decides to chat with him and then just to irritate me, actually tells Carl all about how critical his elixir is to drink at just the right moment, or he'll be doomed... DOOMED! And then leaving Carl in a position to destroy said elixir before he can drink it at just the right moment to avoid being doomed... DOOMED! Talk about something being written too pat!

Other Thoughts: I found this story moving much more slowly with less gain than The Night Stalker, so I didn't enjoy it as much. But on the other hand, I did like the lighter touch of the script and the moments of humor sprinkled throughout between Louise and Carl and between Carl and Tony. I also liked very much that Tony, though powerless otherwise, was actually on Carl's side in the end in trying to get the truth - however unbelievable - out into the public.

There are also a few skips in logic that happen in the film that I wasn't fond of. I didn't like the clumsy introduction of the underground Seattle or especially the way that this random introduction would spur Kolchak to look up details about the old city that just so happen to lead to more stories about odd murders in the past. Mr. Berry's character was well acted and well used by the plot, but he's introduced too soon in a clumsy way.

Since Louise wasn't a victim at any time in the film, I really wish that we'd spent more time with Wilma and Charisma through Louise's eyes so that we'd have gotten a more emotional impact when Charisma is attacked. Since it was so close to home for Louise, we really needed a better connection with the two women since they're the closest we come to having any connection at all with any of the Strangler's victims. Tied in with Louise, the scenes of her wandering while bait came across as ultimately too long to eat up screen time as well, since she's never attacked throughout the picture and the scene in question ends with her and Carl being picked up for breaking the curfew on the streets. It's a long build up leading to nowhere.

I found it really disappointing that the sixth victim's murder wasn't used to point to secret underground access for the killer into buildings around the city. The actual attack including jumping through a plate glass window was just silly and the scene could've done better if they'd cut out more repetitive elements from earlier and had the woman really fight back. The whole scene just felt awkwardly done.

I also found the final confrontation with the killer to be slow, dull and anti-climactic. Although, Darren did do a good job of looking like Richard Anderson was trying to choke the life out of him.

I liked the ending in the car with the old pals/frenemies arguing once again, but inserting Louise into things felt off. I wished they'd just left it as "the odd couple" grousing at one another over who's more at fault for their losing another job.

The Score: I really enjoyed the Carl/Tony relationship much more in this one, as the script includes quite a bit of humorous blustering between the characters and Darren and Simon feel like they're having a lot of fun with their arguments. I also liked that moment when Carl's made to eat some crow as he finds out that the police actually do know how to investigate things without his direction. But overall, I found the pacing more problematic than in The Night Stalker, and this villain both spent too much time off screen and then was a bore when he was on. The confrontation over the elixir was just clumsy and anti-climactic, as was the ending death of the villain. I enjoyed that more of the side characters were given some personality and quirks of their own, but I wish more had been done with the villain himself and that there had been less time spent wandering around in the dark.

I, apparently in the minority on this one, just don't have as good a time as when I watch The Stalker.

3.25 out of 5 stars

Next Up: BTVS, Season 3, "The Wish"

Tags: kolchak: the reviews

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