It takes a brave man to face a zombie while wearing nothing but a seersucker suit and a straw hat. Carl Kolchak was one of the great characters of Seventies television, played with levity and charm by Darren McGavin, who brought many of the same characteristics to his role as the dad in A Christmas Story. After two hit made-for-TV movies, beginning with The Night Stalker, Kolchak finally got the green light to investigate eerie cases full-time on ABC.
Kolchak: The Night Stalker may have been a “Monster of the Week” series, but, oh, what monsters they were! Lasting a mere 20 episodes, this cult 1974–75 show featured awesome creatures.
Seemingly, the show spent much of its money on makeup and effects. Each week, a sinister baddie would lurk in the shadows of Chicago until finally revealing itself in the final ten minutes.
This formula would inspire other beloved shows about the paranormal, like The X-Files and Supernatural.
Here are 10 of MeTV’s favorite monsters from the show.
Which do you think would keep you up at night?
1. Père Malfait
“The Spanish Moss Murders”
The Creole bogeyman Père Malfait roughly translates as “the father of evil-doings.” In other words, he’s a devil figure, though here the creature is more of a mossy Swamp Thing. The mucky monster squeezes the life out of victims in the sewer. Gross. He was played by the towering Richard Kiel, better known as “Jaws” in the James Bond films. Kiel turns up later on this list, too…
2. The Rakshasa
“Horror in the Heights”
Maneaters of Hindu mythology, the Rakshasas have been striking fear in the hearts of men for centuries. Best way to take it down? A crossbow spitting arrows blessed by the god Brahma. Oh, and the help of a local restaurant owner.
3. The Zombie
On The Walking Dead, zombies are little more than skeletons with meat falling off the bone. This spine-crushing dude is the size of the Hulk. Good thing he sleeps in a scrapyard, so you can dump a bunch of salt in his mouth.
4. Mesopotamian Succubus
“Demon in Lace”
This Sumerian demon assumes the form of recently deceased women and lures men into her deadly embrace.
5. The Werewolf
Sure, it may look more like a Were–Shih Tzu or a Yuppie Wookie, but this werewolf makeup did not hold back on the fur. He’s quick as a hyperactive terrier aboard a cruise ship.
6. The Reptile
Lighting works wonders. In the brief flashes of bright fire, this big lizard might strike you as a kind of alligator sculpture you’d find on a miniature golf course in Florida. But in the shadows, as it smashes light bulbs and swats at our hero, the thing is pretty creepy.
7. Mr. R. I. N. G.
This murderous android has no face. No face! That’s always unsettling.
8. The Nanautzin Mummy
“Legacy of Terror”
Kolchak wisely gave the standard Universal movie monsters — mummies, vampires and werewolves — a twist. Here, several victims are found with their hearts sliced out, sacrifices to an Aztec mummy. He needs just one more blood-pumper to come back to life — and it’s sitting inside a young Erik Estrada. Bad news: This mummy has a sword, too.
A week before he turned up as the moss monster, Kiel appeared as this sinister shaman spirit. This fan-favorite behemoth is certainly rather dated today, but Kiel always makes for an imposing presence, as he tosses cops in a stairwell. His only weakness? A mirror!
10. Harold “Swordsman” Baker
That’s some torso on the headless motorcyclist. Go figure. Not only does this update on the Ichabod Crane tale feature a motorcyle instead of a horse, the creature weilds a sword. Fun fact: This story was written by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, who would go on to create Back to the Future.