THE NIGHT STALKER, Dan Curtis Breaks TV Ratings Record, January 11, 1972

Written By: Greg Howell - Feb• 14•18

This influential television film followed washed-up reporter Carl Kolchak, played by Darren McGavin, as he investigates a Las Vegas serial killer. Based on an unpublished novel by Jeff Rice and a screenplay by Richard Matheson, “The Night Stalker” added just the right amount of sarcastic humor with a vampire horror tale for a fresh, winning combination.

The telefilm was the #1 show of the week, and its 33.2 rating and 54 share made it the highest rated movie on television up to that time. 3rd place ABC wasted no time requesting a sequel, “The Night Strangler.”

These highly rated movies, of course, led to the “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” the one season cult classic that had mediocre ratings during its original run, 1974-1975, but performed as well as other ABC shows such as “Barney Miller,” “The Six Million Dollar Man,” and “Baretta.” However, a lawsuit by creator Jeff Rice, coupled with Darren McGavin’s disappointment with the series’ “monster of the week” approach, led to certain cancellation in late spring of 1975.

The Dan Curtis productions of “Dark Shadows” and “The Night Stalker” influenced television and popular culture for the next 50 years. Both Stephen King and Ann Rice name these shows as major influences, and TV series such as “Salem’s Lot,” “Supernatural,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “True Blood,” “American Horror Story” and the “X-Files” all borrowed heavily from these Curtis classics.
The Night Stalker

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