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Richard Matheson's Kolchak Scripts
editor: Mark Dawidziak
Gauntlet Press hardcover $150

review by Michael McCarty

One might ask if Richard Matheson's three-script collection is worth the hefty cover price, but the answer is yes - absolutely, yes! Mark Dawidziak does the introductions to all three scripts as well as interviews with all the principal players including scriptwriter/novelists Richard Matheson and William F. Nolan, producer and director Dan Curtis, Jeff Rice - author of the book which the movie was based on, director John Llewellyn Moxey, and actor Darren McGavin who played the character of Carl Kolchak. Dawidiziak does a terrific job of presenting his insights, and a fair account of what went on behind-the-scenes with these TV movies. He conveys a lot of information, compressing the best material from his Night Stalking: A 20th Anniversary Kolchak Companion and The Night Stalker Companion: A 25th Anniversary Tribute books into very informative and lively articles.
   There is also cast and credits info for The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler, and appendices: The Rest of the Kolchak Story, Richard Matheson and the TV Movies, Richard Matheson and the Vampire Story, photos and illustrations. And Matheson has signed each of the numbered editions, so you have permission to die with envy now!
   All three scripts are superb, here is a quick summary: The Night Stalker was one of the most watched TV movies of its time with over 75 million viewers. This is the story of veteran reporter Carl Kolchak investigating a series of murders in Las Vegas that leads him to believe they were committed by a modern day vampire. The action, horror and humour doesn't let up in this thrilling script. Of the three this is the best script.
   The Night Strangler continues the adventures of Kolchak, this time finding him investigating a series of murders with female victims. He discovers that similar crimes have been committed in Seattle every 21 years for more than a century. The use of the underground city and the shades of Jack the Ripper are very creepy. This was a fascinating and dark tale.
   The Night Killers (co-written with William Nolan) was an un-produced script. This time Kolchak is in Hawaii investigating a series of unexplained events after a UFO sighting. Politicians and major figures were being replaced by androids. This was very X-Files-ish 20 years before The X-Files aired. This is one of the quirkiest Kolchak scripts, but I love it, highly original and very amusing - I wished it could have been produced.
   There are plenty of tense moments and some good scares with these scripts. Kolchak is such a fascinating character; fast-talking, wisecracking, outspoken, brash, always fighting the powers-that-be and a bit too arrogant for his own good. What makes him so likeable is his sense of humor - through all his perils, he keeps his wits sharp, and this is especially true when Kolchak interacts with his editor Tony Vincenzo. The reporter and editor have an edgy rapport of barbs and banter going back and forth.
   Gauntlet publisher Barry Hoffman (who is also the author of the cult favourite Eyes Of Prey) has been working for two and a half years to secure all the different rights and permissions to publish these scripts. This beautiful coffee table with a limited run is destined to become a red-hot collector's item and a must for Kolchak and Matheson fans. In 2004 Gauntlet will be publishing Richard Matheson: Collected Stories, Volume One (of a three book set) which sounds a promising publication.
Kolchak Scripts

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