harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

Kolchak reviewed: The Zombie


Kolchak: The Night Stalker
Season 01, Episode 02

The Zombie

Writer: Zekial Marco & David Chase
DIR: Alexander Grasshoff

Blurb: After her son is murdered [no, it isn't -- it's her grandson], a voodoo priestess brings him back from the grave so that he may seek revenge against his killers.

Scene 01: We start at a storage facility in the dead of night. It’s apparently deserted, but for one lone set of footsteps.

A voice over from Kolchak tells us that our story about to be presented should put paid to any myths about powerful men fearing nothing. Our POV drifts to the inside of a trailer truck, which has been outfitted with a coin bundler and a man in a business suit feeding coins.

Kolchak lets us know that this is Syndicate Business. We now find another man, this one the “numbers man”, and now known as Mr. Berg. With Mr. Berg is a muscle man, Mr. Pike. Our coin feeder isn’t named -- he’s the little guy on the payroll.

Our men’s accounting of their illicit gains are interrupted by the trailer shaking. Believing that it’s the beginning of a police raid, they start shredding documents as fast as they can. In the meantime, the cheap lock and the bar of wood placed across the doors to keep out unwanted visitors is easily snapped by whoever is making their way in.

[Wait… what kind of truck has the doors swing inward to load/unload?? I’ll give a point to the bad guys for doing business in the back of the trailer truck… mobile, inconspicuous… it’s a good plan. I’ll guess we just have to decide that they modified the doors. I can live with that.]

Despite believing this must be a raid, all our baddies grab out their guns, which seems ill-considered. But anyway, it’s not the police… shocker.

They immediately get looks of horror on their faces and begin firing. But whatever is attacking them [uh, could it maybe be a zombie?] shrugs off this assault and begins to pummel his way through them.

Mr. Willy Pike is killed, but the other two manage to crawl out of the back of the truck for a run for their lives. Kolchak monologues on the sad end of Willy Pike’s misguided life.

Commentary: And while I like the atmosphere of this scene, the attacks themselves are more bloodless affairs. And Willy looks like he took a hard shove and folded… dead. It’s kind of pathetic, rather than scary.

What’s more really bothersome though, is the camera being way too close to actually get a sense of the action taking place. Obvs, we want to hide our killer -- despite the title giving it away -- but the attack is just too badly filmed for this opening scene to work well. And our attackees are completely silent throughout this event, which is not only silly, but also doesn’t do anything to add to the “horror” of what is happening. No, not happy with this opening murder sequence.

Scene 02: From our opening, we stare down from helicopter view onto the freeways of Chicago, along the shoreline of Lake Michigan.

From here, we skip over and pan onto the train system. This then leads to a pan to the INS Windows of the corner offices of the newspaper that Kolchak & Vincenzo find themselves at these days, on their continuing downward spiral within the journalism industry.

Scene 03: We join Carl with his coffee and typewriter… and his ubiquitous voiceovers. He tells us that Mr. Pike was declared killed by being beaten to death, and his murder is being written off as just another Gangland killing.

As Carl is wrapping up a story which he thinks is a one pager, the office assistant comes by with mail. She knocks over his coffee and complains that he’s not supposed to have food and drink in the office areas. He sends her away to clean up the mess himself, while begging her to pretty please deliver his story to Vincenzo for approval… which she does only reluctantly.

Tony actually arrives in the office at this moment, to receive the story and then join Carl at his desk. Vincenzo compliments Carl on a great story… which he could not possibly have had time to read… especially since Carl points out that he’s holding the page upside down.

Tony is all smiles, says he’s starving and offers to buy Kolchak breakfast. All of these things are bad signs that Tony wants something, and Carl isn’t going to like it.

Vincenzo’s pitch is that there is a Syndicate raid scheduled by the police for that day, which Tony’s sources have shared with him. He wants Carl to cover it, with INS getting the exclusive. All of which sounds a little too good to be true. Tony shares that he’s also going to assign Monique - our office assistant - to him for this story so she can get some real experience toward her goals of becoming a bonafide reporter.

That’s the rub, and Carl vociferously disagrees with being saddled with a trainee [well… after last episode and the death of Jane Plumb… it’s hard to see this as Kolchak just being a jerk, which is what we’re supposed to be concluding]. Tony bullies him into it, of course. But mostly because Monique’s uncle is a well-to-do big shot at INS, and somebody that Tony has to keep happy.

Scene 04: In the car, Monique proves herself to have a difficult time with big words, like “nepotism” despite graduating from Columbia with a degree in journalism.

Carl takes this drive as an opportunity to warn her that things may be rough that afternoon, which confuses her, as this was supposed to just be reporting on what the raid finds.

Commentary: All of which eats up a bit too much time without being integral to the story. I’d have scripted this a bit differently, I guess. Maybe by mentioning to Monique about Jane, or about Carl’s own life being put in danger in the past for covering stories [obvs without actually trying to convince her about near-immortal killers and vampires], rather than his method of vague statements free of examples. Which just ends up sounding like some bullshitting at her because he doesn’t want the assignment of training her.

Scene 05: With the police, they’ve surrounded the Apple Farm and Cider Works of James and Perry Russo where a virtual army of squad cars are parked. The Russos are ordered to surrender post haste.

The Russo answer is to take pot shots at the ground a good foot in front of the police cars with a … uh… automatic rifle [? Sorry, I don’t know guns].

All units are ordered to open fire. But since most of the police only have their side arms, there is a lot of noise, signifying nothing as far as we can see. Carl’s voiceover in the meantime is telling us that he and Captain Leo Winwood have had a long history, none of it on a high note.

Carl describes the relationship as the Crusades, without the chivalry.

[Which yes, totally makes sense for Tony to assign Carl to this particular raid, then… huh, wait…]

Scene 06: Carl and Monique pull up behind the cop cars in the midst of the shootout in Carl’s yellow convertible and a cloud of dust.

[A cloud of dust… with the mountains of Illinois in the background… no, no, this was surely filmed in the outskirts of Chicago… I’m sure.]

The Captain shouts at Carl and Monique to get their heads down or have them blown off. Carl quickly complies, but Monique chooses to get out of the car, and trundle up behind two officers being shot at, so she can snap pics. Carl is horrified at the prospect of his trainee getting a bullet through her forehead with such a suicidal move.

Carl rushes to her side, and manhandles her away from the active shooting. He tells her to get into the trunk to use as a shield, while he’ll pull the car closer so she can get her shot. She’s all excited, he’s all nervous and not pleased with her actions. She gets in the trunk, he slams the hood down on her and leaves her to sit relatively safe.

Scene 07: Carl then takes her place snapping photos, though being more judicious in using the cop cars as a shield and staying well behind the shooting officers. Captain Winwood warns Carl that if he takes a bullet with his bone headed moves, not to think he’s getting a ride in one of their ambulances.

The shooting suddenly dies down as quickly as it all started. The police captain [rather stupidly] strolls out into the field of engagement confidently, while the officers are more circumspect in following behind. Only half of them wearing bullet-proof vests, which doesn‘t include our Police Captain. None of them appear to be special tactical units.

Carl assures us that things are over though, and that now comes the time for the pictures. Despite the plan of this being an exclusive, a WNSB TV station wagon is pulling in to the site now.

Scene 08: After coming out of the barn, where presumably both Russos are now lying in pools of their own blood, Winwood is mobbed by the reporters, including Kolchak who wants pictures of the carnage. But the Captain shouts that the barn is off limits.

Winwood shouts that there will be no pictures taken inside the barn.

Commentary: Again, this scene seems to go on a bit long since it doesn’t actually lead anywhere. We’ve seen before that Carl can’t get along with the local brass, and he honestly doesn’t try all that hard to do so.

One could make the argument that maybe the Captain found that the Russos weren’t killed by their bullets after all, and is dealing with confusion over just what happened in the barn while the police were busy engaging in their gun battle but that would be reading between the lines because we know we’re watching a Kolchak episode.

Perhaps we’re supposed to leap to the conclusion because the police won’t allow photographs of the crime scene, but that is pretty thin. I wouldn’t want the reporters trampling through the scene either, until evidence collection is completed.

Scene 09: With not being able to review the barn massacre directly, Kolchak decides to run over to the county morgue for a chat with Gordon Spangler, a morgue attendant who runs a ghoulish lottery based on the birth date of the bodies that come in, and making a tidy profit.

He also doesn’t mind sharing information to nosy reporters that would otherwise be kept from them.

Carl is told that our morgue attendant has been “iced out” of the Russo brother’s autopsies, which doesn’t seem unusual enough to comment on by him. He also tells Kolchak that he can share a set of X-Rays for the former Willy Pike though, which is also tied into this latest Anti-Gangland Operations. And the X-Rays are interesting… the “severe blows” which killed Willy did massive damage… far more than expected... although we don't hear why it's strange at this time.

Spangler tells Kolchak that isn’t all that was found, but it’ll cost him some more cash. Carl complains he’s tapped out… he’d down to change, so Gord relents and shares the tidbit as “a freebie”. He tells Carl that the body in the background that he’s now going to make Kolchak help get into the drawer?

They had him in the morgue a week ago, already!

The phone rings to interrupt, but Carl is quite taken aback. But it gets weirder. There was chicken blood found in the man’s ears!

Scene 10: The phone call turns out to be for Kolchak, which turns out to be Tony Vincenzo tracking him down to complain that Monique is pissed about that trunk episode, and is threatening to go to her Uncle.

While Tony is trying to engage Carl in conversation, Carl attention is on continuing to talk to the Gordon, leading to humorous byplay between these two separate conversations.

Tony is misled that Carl is going to apologize to Monique to save Vincenzo’s ass from the crewing about to come his way, but Carl hasn’t been talking to Tony. So when Tony hands the phone over to Monique for the apology, Carl has just now gotten to the phone call he wasn’t paying any attention to. He says hello a few times, but without a reply [as Tony was handing the phone over to Monique], he hangs up.


Scene 11: Days later, Carl is attending the official police briefing. The briefing is in relations to the deaths of the Russo brothers. But Carl has gotten information from his network of paid spies and he asks the Captain about the Russo Brothers being rumored to have not been fatally shot during the standoff. In fact, they both appear - if the rumors are true - to have been killed by snapped spines, and in fact is the exact way that Willy Pike met his end.

The question is completely ignored. Winwood instead briefs the reporters that six bodies thus far have been found buried on the Russo property. Obviously part of the criminal activities of the Russos. Carl interrupts to point out that the Captain didn’t answer the question.

Captain Winwood hints to Kolchak that he has the discretion to bar certain reporters from any more briefings, but Carl counters that he wouldn’t be missing much. He brings up the rumored third body found in the barn with the Russos… a black male. Leo addresses the rest of the media to report that for once, Carl isn’t just spreading rumors and that yes, there was a negro male found with the dead Russo brothers. But that is all that is said about it, as Leo wishes them all a good day.

But Kolchak - being himself - isn’t going to let that answer stand on its own. He shouts out that the black gentleman wasn’t killed by snapped spine like the rest, nor was he shot down by the police as the caliber of bullets was wrong. He shouts for answers to the man’s identity. But Leo continues to walk out without responding.

Commentary: And actually, this scene shocked me simply because Carl didn’t shout out something ridiculous, like the body having already made the trip to the morgue before being found in the Russo barn.

I can’t decide if I’m happy that he didn’t go out of his way to sound insane again, or if it was an out-of-character moment and a slip up on the scripting.

What I will dock the script for, however, is not having Monique in this scene. It makes very little sense that in order to avoid the negative consequences of Carl’s blowing off his assignment of walking Monique through putting her journalism degree to use, that Tony wouldn’t have assigned her to cover the briefing. That’s like “Beginning Reporter 101”, you’d think.

And it would allow her to obnoxiously pester Kolchak, and give an excuse for him to bring up that sometimes you need to push hard against the authority figures to tease out what they don’t want the public to know. This would’ve been another subtle call back to the other times when Kolchak was chasing a story that included details the police and politicians were deliberately hiding.

I mean, I have the feeling that we’ll probably not have Monique as an ongoing character, and that she’s just there to add some bits of humor here and there and create another headache for Tony, but if they were going to use this a B-Plot, they could’ve at least embraced the storyline and put Monique in the logical places her character would be in.

Scene 12: Sometime later, Carl has pulled into a cemetery. He voiceovers for us that Gordon shared that the unknown black man was being buried at the expense of the city that day.

Carl finds a grounds man to ask if the casket being lowered into a hole in the background is a black guy from the morgue. The grounds man complains that they city is breaking the rules by burying more than one body per plot and it’s a disgrace. To Kolchak’s prompt, the grounds man tells him that there was already a body buried there a few weeks ago, and the city is stacking them up on one another, which is just wrong.

Commentary: Of course, we know that they’re not stacked. There was only one body buried there before and there is only one there now. But Carl hasn’t gotten to the point of figuring out that there are more supernatural shenanigans going on yet.

Also --- AGAIN, this is a place where Monique should’ve been pressed onto Carl to make up for his locking her in the trunk during the shoot out. It doesn’t make sense to introduce her as a thorn in Carl’s side, forced on him by Tony playing office politics to cover his own ass, and then not insert her into scenes like this one where she could act as an interrupter and general pain when Carl is trying to figure out what is clearly a mystery that is giving off some stink of not being right.

Scene 13: As Carl is wrapping up his conversation with the grounds man, he notices that Leo Winwood has arrived to witness the unknown black man’s [re]burial. Leo isn’t thrilled to see him, but he’s at least not bombastic about it.

But Carl quickly annoys, as he so often does, by wondering why a city police captain is attending the burial of an anonymous black man. And how does that black man find himself to having been buried there prior, only to make it to the Russo operation, and now finding himself back being buried in his own plot for a second time.

Leo warns Kolchak off, including strongly intimating that if he doesn’t stop butting into this situation, he’ll find his arms broken for him. Having ensured that the casket is in fact being buried and now bothered that Carl is looking into this matter, Leo marches away, leaving Kolchak with too many questions and nobody willing to answer them… as is usual.

Scene 14: Sometime later, pan of Chicago greets us. We see the horizon before us in all of its non-mountainous glory and wondering where the Illinois Mountain Range is hiding.

We rejoin Kolchak at the morgue, where Gordon makes Carl pay for another number in his side betting scheme. Carl is there to learn more about the black guy who gets around a lot after he’s dead, and discovers he was Haitian, was first in the morgue about 10 days ago and was an up and comer in the numbers racket apparently. But now, Morgue Attendant has a name to go with the body: Francois Edmonds.

Gordy speculates that Francois may’ve swallowed some of the change and the Syndicate dug up his body to perform some exploratory surgery to retrieve their stolen money. But Carl points out how that wouldn’t make any sense, after the first autopsy was already performed. Gord agrees, but insists that there has been some problems going on between the white Syndicate and the Black Numbers runners over the past few months. It appears that Francois was caught up in the mob war brewing.

Scene 15: The next stop for Kolchak then, is the South Side of Chicago to look into this Syndicate vs. the Haitian Crime gangs. Carl’s voiceover tells us that he played as a customer of Francois, but found the bookies in town very hesitant to even talk to him.

It took some digging to get an address.

[And really? Nothing from Tony and/or Monique STILL … why was that thread even introduced in the script?]

Kolchak has to buy a “Lucky Number” in order to proceed into the Number Racket to find information about Francois and what exactly happened to him and his mysterious traveling around after being buried the first time, and to this end he finds himself in a Haitian Voodoo Shop.

Before his “number” can be summoned by that ol’ Hoodoo, though, the clerk asks Kolchak what he dreamed of the night before. Carl uses this to mention Francois, which causes a moment of pause in the clerk. He tells Carl that “his friend” is dead.

Before Carl can go on, they’re interrupted by the arrival of a Smooth-Criminal Gangster and his entourage of muscle. They quickly relieve Carl of his tape recorder and strong arm him toward the door. There our Smooth Criminal, Sweetstick Weldon - The Duke of the South Side Black Numbers Racket, addresses Carl.  Sweetstick has been made aware of Carl attempting to place a numbers bet the entire day, but also heard that Carl has been much more interested in asking about Francois. Sweetstick informs Carl that nobody cares about some young black man cut down in his prime and the story… whatever Carl thinks it is… is dead.

Kolchak says that he understands his point, but then goes on to ask him if he knew Francois personally. Sweetstick isn’t pleased that Carl didn’t immediately drop the entire subject, as befitting somebody who is being muscled and orders him to be roughed up to underscore the fact that The Francois Story Is Dead, Dammit.

Scene 16: Kolchak goes on to voiceover that as bad as his day had gone, it wasn’t as bad as Mr. Berg’s… who found himself the next one dead. Further, this latest death in the underworld created the opportunity for a big meeting between the Black Numbers Runners and the Syndicate to discuss the situation. A meeting that Carl wanted to get access to somehow. He gets in touch with one of this underworld contacts called The Monk, to find out if he knows where this big powwow is taking place.

It turns out that the meeting place is a well known Midtown Garage… which seems from week to week to require constant renovation. Like every time a big meeting takes place among the crime families, there seems to be work needed at the Garage and an army of “repair men” descends on it.

This time apparently the Garage needs repainting. Carl rushes to the location.

Commentary: Really. Mr. Berg is killed off screen with one line of dialog?? And despite being a criminal organization in a low level war over turf apparently, it’s easy to figure out right where the big meetings take place, because it’s always at the same location? And the police haven’t gotten the place wired with hidden microphones yet?

And, other than Francois’ grave being disturbed and having his corpse end up at the Russo Brothers’ place, I’m not sure why Carl is SO focused on this guy. Usually by this point, 20 minutes in, we’d have Carl find some sort of circumstantial evidence that makes him believe there is something supernatural going on. But so far, the only out-of-place thing is a grave robbery for a body and chicken blood in its ears. Weird. But not enough to make Carl jump to a conclusion of black magic and zombies … which I’d have expected by now.

This could almost be a straight crime story, with the supernatural aspects being incidental to the plot. But this is a Night Stalker story - the zombie should be the central plot point and it should have Carl hunting down a supernatural monster, not pursuing a few gang killings.

This script is also plodding because Carl is traveling to and fro, but he isn’t learning anything that he didn’t already know -- except the corpse’s name and his involvement in the South Side numbers running gig. The Zombie of the title is such a small presence in this story, that there isn’t anything for Carl to hang his hat on thus far.

Also problematic still is Monique in all of this. Her B-Plot feels entirely divorced from Carl’s current problem as to be just a time waster and to give something for Tony to bluster about occasionally. I’m really left wondering if this was a Night Stalker script, or if it was written for something else and then clumsily adapted to toss a zombie in there to minimally meet the criteria for a Night Stalker episode.

Scene 17: Somehow, Kolchak is able to slip up on this big, secret, two criminal empires’ meeting without being noticed. The point of this meeting is for the Syndicate to demand reparations from the South Side Gang for the deaths they’ve suffered recently. But Sweetstick insists that they didn’t authorize or participate in the killing of Pike, the Russos, or Berg and won’t be paying out anything. Syndicate Head, Sposato insists that he knows the attacks were carried out by a “Coconut” which makes it Sweetstick’s responsibility and warns that if one more of his guys die, there will be “Coconut milk” spilled all over Chicago.

Sweetstick is ready for a turf war if that is really how Sposato wants to play it and tells him that his demands for 25% of the numbers business for the next quarter is denied.

As the meeting breaks up, Carl feels the need to play with his recorder. He accidentally hit’s the rewind button, alerting Sposato that they have a spy in their midst.

He’s instantly shot in the side of the face and his body dumped into a sewer somewhere. Oh, wait. No, no that doesn’t happen… for some reason.

Carl is manhandled to the car of Mr. Sposato. Carl’s tape recorder is stolen again, and Kolchak appears to be about to get plugged in the stomach for being a pain in the mobster’s asses. But he buys himself some time by telling Sposato that he can name the person who has been killing off his friends and blurts out Francois’ name.

Mr. Sposato is aware of Francois’ connection with the Russos’ demises, but tells Carl that he’s now buried, so he isn’t responsible for Mr. Berg’s death. He tells him it was a nice try.

Carl though insists that he’d bet his life… and not lightly, as he understands his situation… he bets his life that they’ll find that Francois isn’t lying in his grave right now. This is an intriguing claim to the Italians.

Scene 18: It’s enough, out of curiosity if no other reason, for Sposato to spare Carl’s life long enough for the reporter to dig up Francois’ gravesite on behalf of the Syndicate to prove or disprove that Francois is where everybody thinks he should be.

They’re interrupted by grounds man who complains that they can’t be burying people at night, as it’s against union rules. The guns say differently though, and Mr. Groundsman is sent into the hole to help Kolchak dig.

When they reach the coffin, they find that all that is within it is a dead bird, and some detritus. There is no sign of Mr. Edmonds.

Now freaked out, Mr. Sposato gets into an argument with Victor, his right hand, over whether hitting Francois was authorized, as now suddenly Benjamin is frightened that Francois’ walking corpse will be coming for him, too. It looks like Benjamin is going to blame Victor for killing Francois in an unauthorized hit, despite Victor arguing that Benjamin did want Francois taken out, when the argument is interrupted by some extremely loud foot steps over the lawn.

From out of the darkness, marches Francois’ corpse.

Scene 19: Sposato’s men try their guns, but this doesn’t do anything. Victor tries to hit him with a shovel, and gets slammed into the ground for his trouble. He’s then manhandled and his spine snapped, like it was made of twig.

With Sposato looking on his utter terror, Francois then walks away, his apparent immediate target dead.

Scene 20: We fade cut to a police car rushing with sirens on. It’s destination is the shots fired at the cemetery. There they find Victor’s body lying where it was left, and Carl Kolchak sitting at the bottom of a now re-emptied grave.

Scene 21: As dawn approaches, there is a knock on a door. It turns out it’s the police captain’s office door and the knocker was Vincenzo, gotten out of bed to come down and bail his pain-in-the-ass reporter AGAIN. He’s seriously unhappy… though not shocked, of course.

Winwood goes on to list the infractions that they could charge Carl with, including possibly the murder of Victor Friese. But Carl insists that while he was there when Victor’s spine was snapped, he witnessed the whole thing being done by a man whose been dead for two weeks.

Obviously, none of this sounds remotely possible… and yet… Winwood doesn’t call out Kolchak’s bizarre rantings with the vociferousness that we may expect. He actually asks if Francois is walking around, who is pulling his strings, which Carl can’t yet answer. He brings up the chicken blood and corn kernals found in the coffin, but the thought that voodoo could have a zombie running around is a bit too much, at least currently, for Winwood to buy. He orders Kolchak out of his office [however, again this is interesting since he isn’t ordered to a cell for his ravings].

Commentary: This was an interesting twist on the obfuscating bureaucrat that Kolchak often encounters. One may even guess that Winwood is actually considering that … somehow… Francois who they keep burying is being controlled by somebody else. Now, whether he fully buys that the guy is dead and doing the killing, or whether he believes somebody is using his corpse as a prop to confuse the identity of the actual killer(s) is another question. But the fact that he’s not blindly insisting that there is nothing weird going on and Kolchak is just insano is a nice change of pace.

I may even be thinking that it’d be nice to have Captain Winwood as a recurring character.

Scene 22: The following day, in the early morning hours, Kolchak again meets with The Monk. The official sources didn’t have any next of kin for the unfortunate Francois, and Carl is hoping that The Monk might know who Mr. Edmonds might’ve been close to.

He’s directed to another Edmonds, though she goes by the name Mamalois.

Scene 23: Later that day, Carl drops in on Mamalois.

Mamalois informs Kolchak that she’s the deceased’s grandmother and laments that she couldn’t go to his funeral or immigration would’ve caught her as she’s in the country illegally. She seems to know a lot about Carl’s investigations into her family’s business and tells him that her grandson is dead. When Carl reports that he’s not buried, she tells him that she had some young men dig him up for cremation, as that is the custom in her family.

But Carl then reports that he saw her grandson the previous night, and while he didn’t look good, he also didn’t look burnt. He tells her that he looked an awful lot like the walking dead.

She accuses him of having crazy stories. He all but accuses her of being a Voodoo Priestess, but she plays this off as being just an old woman who can make folk remedies for people’s minor health complaints. But as for zombies, that is just old horror tales for the television stories.

Scene 24: Kolchak rushes out of the house when Mamalois tries to convince him to drink some odd “medicine”. Moments later, he starts feeling silly over his scared reaction to the old woman… until he finds a dead chicken carcass - drained of blood - in the trashcan.

Scene 25: Shortly later, we see Mamalois grab another chicken, this one live, and carry it to a shack out back. She also carries a wooden box tucked under an arm.

In the shack, she swings the chicken over a line of boxes… each with the name of one of the dead gangsters, as she plays Hoodoo Drums on her record player.

Meanwhile, Kolchak has climbed onto the roof of the ramshackle shack and is spying on Mamalois. He sees her going through her magic process. One of the miniature coffins replicas lined up has the name of Winwood. Mamalois cuts the throat of the chicken for its blood while Carl takes pictures of what she’s doing from his spy perch. On the blank coffin stand-in, in chicken blood, she writes the name of Kolchak.

Commentary: This was also an interesting twist that I probably should’ve seen coming. But I thought that Mamalois was targeting the gangsters for killing her grandson, which would be understandable, if not necessarily the right thing to do.

I wasn’t expecting that Mamalois would also be a bad guy. But her targeting Captain Winwood, when he doesn’t appear to have any personal connection to her grandson’s death, and now her targeting Kolchak would seem to indicate the old bitch isn’t just some grief stricken grandmother - but is a black magic witch who isn’t worthy of our sympathy after all.

Scene 26: Back at the INS office, Kolchak voraciously reads a book on voodoo, now afraid of his inevitable meeting with the deceased Mr. Edmonds. He doesn’t notice Winwood has joined Vincenzo in his office.

The Captain is there because he’s heard from his officers investigating the recent murders that he’s been out there stirring up trouble with this zombie story of his. Captain Winwood starts giving Vincenzo crap about what a fire hazard his news offices are and how he thinks he’ll have to have the Fire Department make a call to go over the entire building with a fine tooth comb.

Tony tries to placate the Captain, while Carl gets his usual anger over being interfered with by those who don’t want the truth known. He shoves the voodoo book at the police Captain and tells him he’d better bone up on what it takes to defeat a zombie.

Carl goes on to describe what needs to be done by the police to capture and permanently stop the zombie murderer wandering Chicago.

He also shows Winwood his photo of Mamalois’ shack with the miniature coffins that have the police captain’s and his names on the next two coffins. Carl finally accuses Captain Winwood of being a corrupt cop on Sposato’s payroll, and that being the connection to the young Mr. Edmond’s murder that Mamalois is now going to have him killed over.

Tony panics at Carl antagonizing the Police Captain, and before they have the Fire Hazard situation resolved, too!

Carl asks if Winwood was involved in the murder, or just paid to look the other way to Tony’s continued horror.

Commentary: Crap. I liked Captain Winwood, too.

But Carl’s guess here does make sense over why he’s being targeted specifically -- although I still think if Mamalois is just evil [and her adding Carl as a target indicates that is so], she still could be targeting the Police Captain for failing to find her grandson’s killers without his being corrupt.

Scene 27: Back in Tony’s office, the otherwise absent Monique makes a return appearance trying to get into Tony’s office to see what is going on. In the meantime, Winwood asks what other proof Carl has for any of this claims except this one picture of his name written on a box in what could be nail polish for all he knows.

Winwood throws Carl’s name being included and asks what his connection to the murder is, which Carl dismisses as his asking a lot of questions which nobody ever seems to appreciate.

Winwood storms out of Tony’s office, demanding the Zombie story be killed or the Fire Chief will make his life miserable. Meanwhile, Tony is stuck dealing with Monique who wants in on whatever is going on, and Carl is chasing after Winwood. He continues to harangue the Captain on putting down the Zombie while he’s dormant with salt in the mouth and a sewn shut mouth.

 Leo storms out without another word.

Scene 28: When Carl rushes back to his desk in a huff, Tony confronts him on his failure to show Monique the ropes and her noise about making trouble with her Uncle. Carl ignores this as he packs up his candles, salt and matches.

Vincenzo asks where he’s going, and he reports that he needs to get where Sposato is going to be that evening to watch his latest girlfriend sing, because that is where the zombie is sure to show up to eliminate Benjamin.

Monique insists that she’s coming along.

Scene 29: Even as Carl and Monique are rushing to the gin joint, Mr. Sposato is being tossed around in an alley. He shouts for Dino to save him, but the bodyguard is already unconscious or dead on the hood of the limo. He’s quickly killed just before Carl arrives.

In the alley, he takes a few shots while Monique struggles with the tripod for her own pictures. But when she sees Sposato’s entourage lying dead, she’s placed in a state of shock at the deaths. Carl takes note of this, and rushes her into a convenient taxi so he can go after the monster.

When the cab asks where to, Kolchak answers, “New York!”

Scene 30: Carl looks around in desperation for his quarry and spots him getting on a city bus. He grabs his supplies, but the bus takes off before he can get aboard for the confrontation. He jumps onto the bus’ back bumper and rides it while peering into the bus’ passenger compartment trying to spot where his Zombie is.

At a stop outside of an Auto Junkyard, Kolchak thinks the zombie has left the bus, but he disappears too fast to see just where he went. Carl slips into the junkyard past the broken fence.

Scene 31: In the Yard, Carl tries to sneak about, but continually trips over parts lying around in piles and making a racket.

Kolchak climbs up on the junkers, in order to peer around the Yard from above it. He doesn’t spot the zombie, but he does notice an old hearse, which seems like as good a place to look for an animated body as anyplace else.

Scene 32: In the hearse, he does see the Zombie looking about as putrid as you’d think he should … which brings up a question not answered as to how he was able to ride the bus without anyone noticing and panicking about just how diseased this guy appears… and smells… but never mind.

Kolchak opens the door of the hearse, and then considers what he’ll need to do next… without gloves, to the rotting body. He forces himself to climb in, over the body.

Scene 33: As Carl is trying to get his ingredients in place to put the zombie to rest, Mamalois is at that moment in her shack. She’s caught on that Carl is actively trying to stop her, and works her magic to force the zombie to skip over the Captain for the moment and focus on killing Carl next.

Scene 34: In the hearse, Carl has the candles lit around the zombie and goes to pour the salt down its gullet.

With this done, it comes to the most difficult part… having to sew the lips shut. Carl just gets ready to insert the needle for the first stitch, when the zombie’s eyes open and takes a peek at him.

Kolchak responds with a terrified yell and scrambling to get out of the hearse as fast as he can move.

Carl is now left trying to scramble over junkers and auto parts, while the zombie rushes after him -- moving pretty spryly for being a corpse with a lot of rot going on.

Kolchak scrambles over a car roof and spots a cable looped and hanging from a crane. He’s able to throw the cable loop around the Francois’ head, and leaves the zombie dangling….

Scene 35: Meanwhile Mamalois reacts in pain to the zombie’s predicament.

Scene 36: Carl starts lighting more white candles against the zombie before he can find a way to free himself. He places the lighted candles underneath the swinging zombie and as the candles go out on their own, the corpse stills completely.

Meanwhile, Carl finds that he’s smashed his camera falling on it, leaving him with no pictures of the animated corpse moving about.

Scene 37: Later, at INS, Carl walks by Vincenzo’s office as the troublesome Uncle is on the phone. Tony asks Carl where Monique is and he tells him in a cab on the way to Brooklyn, which Tony repeats before his brain catches up.

But all is well, as Troublesome Uncle reports that he’s relieved that Monique is moving on. He didn’t want her at the paper in the first place, as she’s been nothing but trouble.

With a grin, Carl exhaustedly makes his way over to his desk. He voiceovers for us that immigration caught up with Mamalois and she was deported back to Haiti one day after the demise of her zombie. Captain Winwood, with no evidence of wrong doing, was nevertheless retired early “for health reasons”. Francois was buried for the third time by the tax payers… but this time, his mouth was filled with rock salt and his lips sewn shut before he was put in the ground.

He tells the audience that city officials will deny that little detail, but you can see if for yourself if you’ve the nerve to visit his grave and exhume him.

If you’ve got the nerve.

Carl starts typing up his news story.

The Good: I, again, did like the interactions between Vincenzo and Kolchak, especially their first scene together when Carl immediately sizes up that Tony is going to demand something from him that he's not going to like. They're cute together.

I did like that the obstinate Police Captain wasn't so bellicose about Carl's claims, and in fact almost seemed to be seriously considering that Carl was onto something. I liked Winwood, before we find out he's corrupt.

The only real scene that was very good was Carl creeping up in the hearse and having to lay on his side against the corpse in order to pour the salt in his mouth and try to sew up the lips. That was creeptastic and I loved how Darren was acting out the scene, and the copious amount of sweat they made sure he had on his face as he tried to nerve himself up to get even closer to the zombie.

The Bad: For the bad, I'm going to include all of the zombie's murders. None of them were "horrifying" or "scary" and one of the major murders was completely off screen and only mentioned. They were very lackluster. I also didn't like the directing for these action sequences, which were filmed far too tightly and made it impossible to see much of what was going on. This is especially true for the death of Pike.

Monique as the B-Plot is irrelevant to anything that is going on. She spends so much time off screen that her entire point in the episode seems to be "time waster" and the wrap up for her being sent off without having any interaction with the zombie doings at all makes her entire time on screen pointless. For being set up as a thorn interfering with Carl's doing his job, she actually has zero impact.

Also of a problem is the sketchy way that the brewing gang war is handled. There is a confrontation between the Italians and the Haitians which is promising much bloodshed... and then the Haitian Gang disappears and nothing more is made of any of it. It just peters out into a non-event, despite the continuing murders.

Finally, there was too much time spent without the monster, a lack of stalking scenes, and a general habit of spending too much time on scenes just for them to go nowhere and not result in actual information helpful to Kolchak.

Other Thoughts: I didn't really like how Carl handled Monique, when he was actually working with her. The script really fumbled on not having Carl give hints to Monique about WHY he didn't want her hanging around with him, and especially his not mentioning Jane's demise when she got too close to a story was a real oversight.

I'm going to put pacing and story mechanics here. There is too much time spent with criminal capers, and not enough spent on the mysterious zombie doings. There is also scripting problems when every time Carl tries to get information, he's blocked, until Deux Ex The Monk suddenly and conveniently can answer a question to point him to where he needs to go next to move the story along. It's supremely clumsy scripting without any explanation to who The Monk is, or how he knows what he knows and if he knows so much, why he doesn't just data dump the whole plot to Carl to begin with.

I found the way that Winwood wasn't more involved in the denouement against the zombie also disappointing. He was set up as a reluctant ally to Carl in order to save both of their lives, but this was never paid off. Instead, he's relegated to an offscreen send off as well, and doesn't even come under direct threat during the episode by Mamalois.

The denouement of Kolchak defeating the zombie and the wrap up was really disappointing. The zombie was ultimately easily stopped with nothing but three candles placed under his swinging body, and Mamalois was easily dispatched via a superfast deportation. And apparently all of the gangsters on both sides just forgot about all of that nose-butting that Carl was doing into their illegal business. Convenient.

The Score: I didn't like the whole of this episode. I found it dull, I found the investigation to be full of empty scenes that went nowhere, and then answers coming from a third party too easily, and the final battle to stop the zombie before Carl found himself killed was just to pat. The script just wasn't a good "Night Stalker" script.

2.0 out of 5 stars

Next Up: The Walking Dead's "Pretty Much Dead Already"

Tags: kolchak: the reviews

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