MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES: THE NIGHT STALKER (1972)
Today we look at memorable quotes from one of my favorite horror movies from the 1970s, THE NIGHT STALKER (1972) starring Darren McGavin in the role that most of us consider to be his signature role, the inexorable reporter Carl Kolchak.
This movie is so good it’s easy to forget that it was a made-for-TV movie. In fact, it earned such high ratings when it premiered on television on January 11, 1972 that in a largely unprecedented move, it was released theatrically after it played on TV because the film was that popular. Amazing.
And it really is a superior horror movie, which is no surprise since it was produced by Dan Curtis, the man behind the Dark Shadows phenomenon. The other thing to remember is that this was a time, the early 1970s, when a plethora of quality made-for-TV horror movies were being released to the television-viewing public. THE NIGHT STALKER is probably the best of the lot.
It’s also an incredibly lean production, as it clocks in at just 74 minutes. There isn’t an ounce of fat on this baby.
Not only is this movie about a superhuman vampire on the loose in modern day Las Vegas terrifying, but it also introduced the character of Carl Kolchak to the world, a character Darren McGavin would reprise in a sequel THE NIGHT STRANGLER 1973) and then in the weekly TV series The Night Stalker which sadly only lasted one season.
THE NIGHT STALKER boasts a fantastic script, and you would expect no less since it was written by Richard Matheson, based on an unpublished novel by Jeff Rice. The legendary Matheson wrote a ton of movies and so it would be difficult to call THE NIGHT STALKER his best screenplay, but I will say that for me, it’s probably my favorite screenplay that Matheson wrote.
As you would expect, then, this movie is chock-full of memorable quotes. Let’s get right to them, a look at some notable dialogue from THE NIGHT STALKER, screenplay by Richard Matheson:
Some of the best dialogue in the movie comes from scenes where reporter Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin) argues with his editor boss Tony Vincenzo (Simon Oakland), as Kolchak is constantly trying to print stories that a vampire is on the loose in Las Vegas, while Vincenzo, under pressure from the local authorities, is doing his best to quash them.
KOLCHAK: Did I say it was a vampire?
VINCENZO: What does your suggested headline say?
KOLCHAK: The story makes it clear.
VINCENZO (reading): “Vampire killer in Las Vegas, question mark.” Do I misread?
KOLCHAK: The story makes it clear!
VINCENZO: Did I misread or did you use the word “vampire”?
KOLCHAK: Some screwball who imagines he’s a vampire is loose in Las Vegas, and the people ought to be told.
VINCENZO: If there’s a screwball running around loose in Las Vegas, his last name begins with a K!
KOLCHAK: What do you want, Vincenzo? A testimonial from Count Dracula?
VINCENZO: Out! Get out!
KOLCHAK: What is this out, out, get out game we play? This nut thinks he’s a vampire! He’s killed four, maybe five women! He has drained every drop of blood from every one of them! Now that is news, Vincezo. News! And we are a newspaper! We’re supposed to print news, not suppress it!
THE NIGHT STALKER also does an amazing job early on building up a sense of unease and eeriness before the brutal vampire actually makes his appearance, as in this scene where the police find another dead body. The body is lying in a sandy pit, far away from where the struggle seems to have taken place, and there are no footprints leading towards the body other than those belonging to the police. Of course, Kolchak is right alongside the police here.
POLICE OFFICER: This girl lost a lot of blood, Sheriff, but she didn’t lose it here.
SHERIFF BUTCHER: (calling to other officers): Anything?
OFFICER #2 (in the distance): We found a purse! There’s signs of a struggle up here!
SHERIFF BUTCHER: But nothing in between. Only our footprints.
KOLCHAK: What’d he do? Throw her?
There are also several neat exchanges between Kolchak and the authorities, such as in this scene where the coroner makes his report to the police and district attorney, and to the press:
CORONER: We found the death in each case was extremely swift, coming in something like less than a minute. After the initial wounds were inflicted, the blood was drained very quickly, some kind of suction device being used. Now this would explain why no blood was found anywhere in the victims or in the areas where they were discovered.
KOLCHAK: Doctor— Kolchak, Daily News. Do you have any idea what could have made these wounds?
CORONER: They’re not unlike the bite of a medium-sized dog.
SHERIFF: What do you mean, dog?
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: What? Dog, dog! What are you telling us? A dog did these murders?
CORONER: I didn’t mean to indicate that the wounds were actually inflicted by a dog, only that they’re similar to those which might be caused by a dog. A rather interesting point is we found another substance mixed in with the traces of blood in the throat wounds, namely saliva.
SHERIFF: What do you mean, saliva?
CORONER: I mean saliva, Sheriff Butcher. Human saliva.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: What do you mean “human”? Are you suggesting that each of these women were bitten in the throat by a man?
CORONER: At present, the evidence points that way. However I couldn’t and wouldn’t hazard a guess as to motivation. I could only be sure they each died from shock, induced by massive loss of blood.
KOLCHAK: Is it possible that he killed these women by biting them in the throat for the express purpose of drinking their blood?
SHERIFF: Kolchak, now you’re here by the mutual suffrage of us all!
KOLCHAK: It’s sufferance.
KOLCHAK: It’s sufferance, sheriff.
SHERIFF: Whatever it is! Just shut up!
KOLCHAK: Now, I was at the hospital yesterday, and a lot of things were happening that you just simply cannot explain away. Sheriff, your own men shot at him, some at point blank range. How come it didn’t even slow him down? How come a man over 70 years old can outrun a police car? How come this same man when slugged in the head doesn’t even bleed?
How come, indeed! If you haven’t seen THE NIGHT STALKER, you’re missing one of the best horror movies of all time. Check it out!
Don’t believe me? Well, don’t take my word for it. Listen to Kolchak himself as he speaks into his cassette recorder, telling the story of THE NIGHT STALKER:
KOLCHAK: Judge for yourself its believability and then try to tell yourself, wherever you may be, it couldn’t happen here.
Thanks for reading!