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JohnHopper

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As in the early days of the series (“The Ripper”, “The Zombie”), (…) Tony going to the precinct to free Kolchak who yells like a nut which scares Tony on his way to the office of the two police heads.

 

High C

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Yep, not one of the better ones but with an invisible enemy, at least the monster doesn't end up being a hyper-disappointing visual ("The Sentry").
This is one of the worst ones, IMO. A pale retread--and so quickly in airing sequence--of the Richard Kiel ep. The scene in which the unlucky immobile female patient is fried seemed particularly gratuitous. (Granted, I am inordinately squeamish.) The series, I think, was at its best when the people who get offed either deserve it or the entity/monster of the week believes they deserve it. A hospital is there to help people. Why should the spirit have a beef with it? And especially with random people?
 

Jeff Flugel

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Good stuff here, John!

Personally, I rather like "The Energy Eater" (at least it's an original monster), and as you say, William Smith has a great guest star turn. As for "Horror in the Heights," it's easily one of my fave episodes of the series, along with "The Vampire."

While I'm fond of every one of the 20 episodes of this series to one extent or another, to me the weakest is easily "Chopper." Frequently funny script, but the realization of the "ghost rider" is...um, let's be kind and say, not successful.
 
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JohnHopper

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While I'm fond of every one of the 20 episodes of this series to one extent or another, to me the weakest is easily "Chopper." Frequently funny script, but the realization of the "ghost rider" is...um, let's be kind and say, not successful.

I agree with you at 100% concerning “Chopper” that I don't even find funny at all and oddly enough, this episode has a good reputation. Go figure. Anyway, I have a guilty pleasure: “The Sentry” but not for the monster, by the way—you will read why later in December. And that guilty pleasure is not part of my top list.
 

Matt Hough

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To my mind, "Horror in the Heights" is the zenith of the series. Filled with humor and horror, it's aces in my book. That hesitation at the thought of actually killing Miss Emily is a brilliant way to ratchet up tension. And the great Phil Silvers is also part of the cast.
 

Doug Wallen

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I have great memories of this series. I was extremely pleased it went to series after the two telemovies. I was around 15-17 when the movies aired (probably the best age for this). I devoured anything that had Dan Curtis involved (I was a huge fan of Dark Shadows). Kolchak was appointment TV for me.

I passed on the original release due to double sided discs, can't stand the cropped version METV shows, and couldn't wait for the current blu-ray release.

Normally, I race right through TV sets one disc at a time. Since there are so few episodes, I am trying to be more methodical about going through this set as well as Ellery Queen. I am viewing one about every three weeks. They are a special "Event" for me when they pop up.

John, I am enjoying your comments which is really making me want to rush through my set, but I will try to remain committed to my plan. Keep up the stellar work.
 

JohnHopper

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Episode #12
“Mr. R.I.N.G.”
written by L. Ford Neale and John Huff
directed by Gene Levitt
music score by Jerry Fielding (stock)
guests: Julie Adams, Corinne Camacho, Bert Freed, Donald Barry, Henry Beckman, Robert Easton, Maidie Norman, Bruce Powers, Vince Howard, Read Morgan, Craig R. Baxley, Gail Bonney


Miss Emily: “Mr. Vincenzo wants to see you.”
Carl Kolchak: “Oh? Oh. Well, here I go, right into the valley of death.”


Item: It’s a contrived, cheaply-produced and hardly interesting rip-off of the 1974 unsold pilot The Questor Tapes dealing with A.I. and, in the context of the Kolchak series, it is a weapon commissioned by the defense department called Project R.I.N.G. (Robomatic Internalized Nerve Ganglia) and that unfinished man-made mechanical creature kills some people starting with its creator known as Professor Avery Walker on his way to deactivate it and also postal worker Arnold Techman who is undressed and therefore his uniform is stolen and, moreover, robs some strategic places (the makeup case from the Glengarry Mortuary, cassettes from Windsor Branch Chicago Public Library—the philosophy and humanities section) and abducts a woman (Dr. Leslie Dwyer). In a way, R.I.N.G. with its novelty mask looks like Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th and, later on, with its rough waxed-made face mask, looks like Michael Myers from Halloween. Universal television tends to depict robot in a crude fashion as in The Six Million Dollar Man episode entitled “Day of the Robot”. Beyond the simple variation on the creature of Dr. Frankenstein, the narrative raises the question of identity.

Carl Kolchak: “Tony, you won’t believe what’s been popping today. Now, I’m not sure what’s going on, but I have a feeling it’ll make Watergate look like a pie fight.”

Item: Oddly enough, this one has the same dark government/Military-Industrial Complex backdrop as the first science fiction installment “They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be…” because, at the start of Act 1, Kolchak is alone in the poorly lit I.N.S. office to tell us the story before forgetting it and “the boys in the Sedan”—now called “the men with no faces and no names”—are back, watch and tail him all along and used to torture/condition him with drugs but off-camera. Kolchak faces red tapes and walls from a series of officials like police Captain Akins, Tyrell security guard, computer expert and pacifist Dr. Leslie Dwyer fired from the Tyrell Institute, Senator Duncan LeBeau Stephens assisted by his watchdog secretary Mrs. Barham. As in “The Werewolf” and “Bad Medicine” and “The Energy Eater”, Kolchak poses as someone’s else and, here, as retired Major Kolchak. As in “Horror in the Heights”, some characters pass by a movie theater playing the R rated The Fever. The top secret Tyrell lab of Professor Avery Walker is actually Dr. Aaron Pollack’s recycled metallic lab set from “The Spanish Moss Murders”. Director Gene Levitt was the former producer and director of The Outsider (1968). Contains stock music by Jerry Fielding (“The Werewolf“, “Firefall”, “The Devil’s Platform”, “The Trevi Collection”) and Gil Mellé (“The Zombie”, “The Vampire”) and Luchi de Jesus (“The Energy Eater”).

Captain Akins: “But remember, around here they get rather harsh with loudmouths.”
Carl Kolchak: “I’ll whisper.”


police head: Captain Akins (actor Bert Freed), ordered by Colonel Wright and the federal officials of the State.
monster: an escaped faceless robot with superman strength and the psychology of a child.
Tony’s tidbit: Tony receives a dead-serious call from the home office and orders Kolchak to stop his current investigation and to replace Updyke in San Francisco.
featuring: the drunk wife of Dr. Walker (actress Julie Adams) and the idealistic Dr. Leslie Dwyer (actress Corinne Camacho).
 
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JohnHopper

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The chapters menu from “Mr. R.I.N.G.”.

12_ring_.jpg
 

JohnHopper

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Item: It’s a contrived, cheaply-produced and hardly interesting rip-off of the 1974 unsold pilot The Questor Tapes dealing with A.I.

The Questor Tapes (1974)
directed by Richard A. Colla
written by Gene Roddenberry and Gene L. Coon
music by Gil Mellé
with
Robert Foxworth
Mike Farrell
John Vernon


 

JohnHopper

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Kolchak drives straight to the Windsor Branch Chicago Public Library.


 

Matt Hough

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Several of the episodes in the latter half of the run could have benefited from better special effects that modern CGI could have offered them. The monsters are just so cheesy looking that there's no fright to be found.
 

JohnHopper

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Several of the episodes in the latter half of the run could have benefited from better special effects that modern CGI could have offered them. The monsters are just so cheesy looking that there's no fright to be found.

It's true that some monsters look cartoonish and childish but in the case of “Mr RING” they should have used the 1973 Westworld way: see the robot gunslinger played by Yul Brunner.


 

JohnHopper

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Item: “Next on the desk of my editor… the reviews of the second disc and its side B… starting: December 6, 8 AM… Load your camera, check-out your tape recorder and be ready!”


kolchak_dvd04.jpg
 

JohnHopper

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Episode #13
“Primal Scream”
written by Bill S. Ballinger and David Chase
directed by Robert Scheerer
music score by Jerry Fielding (stock)
guests: John Marley, Pat Harrington Jr., Katherine Woodville, Jamie Farr, Barbara Rhoades, Jeanie Bell, Lindsay Workman, Regis Cordic, Byron Morrow, Vince Howard, Sandra Gould, Al Checco

Carl Kolchak: “You broke my camera. You ruined my film. I had pictures of that thing.”
Captain Maurice Molnar: “It was just an accident.”
Carl Kolchak: “Accident? What kind of an accident is that? You threw my camera down on the ground. You danced the Funky Chicken all over it. Listen, you owe me. You owe me…”


Item: It’s a good and fun episode that is exciting to watch and calls into question the oil industry through the O.I.O. (Oceanic International Oil) corporation which breeds by accident a monster from frozen cells that kills (biologist Dr. Jules Copenik, photographer Robert Gurney, truck driver William Pratt delivering meat, young Rosetta Mason)—Kolchak fights his way into the office of the corporation and faces two walls: the PR man and his tall secretary played by Barbara Rhoades. As in “Mr. R.I.N.G.”, the monster escapes from a lab and kills its headman (biologist Dr. Jules Copenik) who has a good professional relationship with his female assistant (Dr. Helen Lynch) and actor Vince Howard plays again a policeman. As with the opaque corporation, Kolchak keeps on sneaking into a hospital to meet injured and secretly guarded Dr. Helen Lynch, punctuated by Gil Mellé’s snare drum cue culled from “They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be” (first used for the arrival of “the boys in the Sedan”): as an aide to an old little lady to carry flowers and as a patient on a wheelchair confused with Mr. Donadio by the head doctor. Amongst the countless and colorful small parts, the frustrated biology high school teacher scene remains a priceless moment in the series.

Biology teacher Mr. ‘Bones’ Burton : [Bell rings] “Yeah. You really wanna learn about ape-men, Mr. Kolchak?”
Carl Kolchak: “Uh-huh.”
Biology teacher Mr. ‘Bones’ Burton: “Stick around.”
Carl Kolchak: [Students chattering] “No, thank you.”


Item: Here’s another episode in which the film editor uses the freeze frame in order not to show the savageness of the monster: the apeman attacking its first two victims, punctuated by Jerry Fielding’s “The Werewolf”. One surreal scene to notice: Kolchak is attacked by the apeman in the red lit tunnel while the police force fires at him, shown in slow motion and, gradually, out of focus. As in “The Spanish Moss Murders”, Kolchak steals some infos in the police precinct room—and is even searched like a common hood by the police head—and finishes his journey in a tunnel that looks like the previous sewer where he first finds another dead body lying on the floor. Find the second sadistic police head—who breaks Kolchak’s camera on purpose and puts his voucher in the dustbin—of a troika that is composed of Captain Joe ‘Mad Dog’ Siska, Captain Maurice Molnar, Captain Vernon Rausch. Contains stock music by Jerry Fielding (“Firefall”, “The Werewolf”, “The Devil’s Platform”) and Gil Mellé (“The Vampire”, “The Zombie”, “They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be”, “The Ripper”).

police head: Captain Maurice Molnar (actor John Marley).
monster: a carnivorous apeman (prehistoric man).
Tony’s tidbit: Tony compliments Kolchak.
featuring: none.
 

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