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JohnHopper

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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.

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…”


 

JohnHopper

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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.”


 

JohnHopper

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Episode #14
“The Trevi Collection”
written by Rudolph Borchert
directed by Don Weis
music score by Jerry Fielding
guests: Nina Foch, Marvin Miller, Bernie Kopell, Lara Parker, Richard Bakalyan, Douglas Fowley, Priscilla Morrill, Henry Brandon, Henry Slate, Peter Leeds, Beverly Gill, Dennis McCarthy, Diana Quick

Carl Kolchak [voice-over]: “Dying and maiming were coming into vogue in the fashion business.”

Item: It’s a very good satire on the world of fashion through the allegory of witchcraft and Kolchak is a fish out of water, completely fooled like a greenhorn: see the interview with Madame Trevi supported by two spineless assistants and the funny salon/saloon confusion, the staged driverless car accident that falsely-accuses Madame Trevi, the attendance of a witches reunion (coven) led secretly by laughing crazy Madelaine Perkins that makes him scare, conditions to act, harms and sends Madame Trevi to the hospital. As in previous episodes (“The Ripper”, “The Zombie”, “Horror in the Heights”), Kolchak explores another part of town: the heart of Chicago’s “chichi” high fashion district. For the anecdote, Kolchak calls the high fashion “haute couture” (literal translation: high sewing) by the name of “hot couture” and “chichi” means two things: fuss or froufrou. As in “The Zombie”, Kolchak is mixed up with the mob but connected to the racket of the fashion industry and is threatened down to the I.N.S. office because of informer Murray Vernon, just gunned down by henchmen driving a car but that side of the story seems at odds or artificially added. As in “They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be…” (also written by Rudolph Borchert) with UFO believers, Kolchak pays a visit to a private association dealing with the occult and is advised by witch insider Griselda to pick the right coven for his initiation.

Witch Griselda: “Witchcraft does have professional ethics.”
Carl Kolchak: “Like big business.”


Item: One of the amusing aspects from the series is witnessing Kolchak traveling through the various strata of high society like his predecessor Columbo: from a music conductor (“Firefall”), two politicians (“The Devil’s Platform”) to billionaires collecting gems (“Bad Medicine”), an oil company (“Primal Scream”) and State scientists (“Mr. R.I.N.G.”). The last name of Madame Trevi refers to the Trevi fountain in Rome. Two surreal scenes shine: the hysterical coven encounter and the destruction of witch Madelaine Perkins covered with disgusting blue dye all over her face and hair after a drowning attempt. As in “The Devil’s Platform” with politician Robert Palmer, the foe offers Kolchak a pact to become famous or should I say she tries to corrupt him and still in that same episode with secretary Susan Driscoll, find another woman ending up in a hospital following a violent attack. After “The Werewolf” with Eric Braeden and “The Devil’s Platform” with Tom Skerritt, find the third entry of humanized monsters led by Lara Parker and the first of the two women guest foes. The opening scene with the animated mannequins as well as the outcome remind the atmosphere of The Twilight Zone episode “The After Hours” and if you look closely you find two actresses amongst the dummies. The victims of witch Madelaine Perkins die or are hurt in a strange and vicious way: informer/industrial spy Mickey Patchek pushed out of the window by a group of stiff mannequins, top international model Ariel attacked and disfigured by a white cat, model Melody Sedgewick scalded to death by her own hot shower. As in previous episodes, Kolchak works in the dark room and shows the pictures of Patchek’s camera to Tony. Actress Lara Parker used to play witch Angélique in Dan Curtis’ series Dark Shadows. It seems that score by Jerry Fielding is original but contains bits by Gil Mellé (“The Ripper”).

police head: none.
monster: a fashion model witch.
Tony’s tidbit: Tony yells too much over Kolchak and checks out his blood pressure.
featuring: none.
 

JohnHopper

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The chapters menu from “The Trevi Collection”.

14_trevi_.jpg
 

Matt Hough

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I like The Trevi Collection, but I think it's slightly weakened by Lara Parker's overacting in the second half. The first half is fabulous in its misdirection; I remember being completely fooled when I first saw this back in the 1970s (Nina Foch was more famous to me than Lara Parker, so it seemed logical she'd be the witch), and the mannequins moving ever so slightly was creepy (yep, the real ladies mixed among the dummies are pretty obvious but still effective). And Carl Kolchak, slovenly reporter among the chic fashion world, is hilarious.

So, good but not great.
 

JohnHopper

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Episode #15
“Chopper”
written by Steve Fisher and David Chase
story by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale
directed by Bruce Kessler
music score by Jerry Fielding (stock)
guests: Larry Linville, Art Metrano, Sharon Farrell, Frank Aletter, Jay Robinson, Jesse White, Jim Backus, Steve Franken, Joey Aresco, Jimmy Murphy, Jack Bernardi, Jim Malinda, Brunetta Barnett

Captain Jonas: “Don’t mess with me, Kolchak. I’m the youngest captain on the force, and I’m going to be the best.”
Carl Kolchak: “I believe that. I believe that. If you don’t die from hypertension first. Learn to relax, will ya?”


Item: It’s a weak and average episode and the worst in my book that focuses on a bikers gang called The Jokers and the petty vengeance of a ghost that I find difficult to watch because of the cheaply-achieved monster, the simplistic and dull adaptation that borrows from Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow combined with 1950’s pop culture, the flat or forced small parts (the replacement of Gordy the Ghoul, Japanese motos dealer and WWII veteran Mr. Bresson, the naive nurse, shocked cab dispatcher Noman Kahill locked up at Mercy General’s psychiatric ward, curator Professor Strig at the Museum of Science and Industry, the hysterical wife of Morton) and the humor that doesn’t work especially during the heavy-handed funeral scene and the poor outcome in the Cook county warehouse. Frankly, the only two good moments remain: Kolchak coning and grilling Captain Jonas at his precinct office and Tony obsessed by his stomach’s issue and food.

Nurse: “Sir? Sir, where are you going?”
Carl Kolchak: “Oh, it’s perfectly all right, Nurse. You see, I’m the official police sketch artist. My name’s Van Dam, Carl Van Dam.”
Nurse: “Well, just a moment…”
Carl Kolchak: “No relationship to Van Gogh. You see I have no deficiency in the ear department.”


Item: As in previous episodes (“The Werewolf”, “Bad Medicine”, “The Energy Eater”, “Mr. R.I.N.G.”), Kolchak poses as someone’s else and, here, as police sketch artist Carl Van Dam who almost compares himself to Vincent Van Gogh to fool the nurse and a documentary director to start a conservation with biker Studs Spake. Here’s another episode in which the film editor uses the freeze frame in order not to show the savageness of the monster: see the decapitated victims (taxi driver Joseph Morton in the garage, telephone line worker/biker Studs Spake in the county warehouse, housewife Coral Morton in the dark streets). As in “The Trevi Collection”, Kolchak gets his money back from a third party: the coven doorman there, the morgue attendant here. Actor Larry Linville appears in the first telefilm The Night Stalker and used to be one of the recurring police heads named Lieutenant George Kramer in the private eye series Mannix. As in “Horror in the Heights”, Tony displays his love for good food and orders some food over the phone like a guilty teenager. Contains stock music by Jerry Fielding (“The Devil’s Platform” and its tailing dog cue, “The Trevi Collection” and its final fight against witch Madelaine Perkins cue, “Firefall”, “The Werewolf”) and Gil Mellé (“The Ripper”).

police head: Captain Jonas (actor Larry Linville).
monster: a headless motorcycle rider ghost, armed with a sword.
Tony’s tidbit: Tony suffers from an ulcer and drinks a dreadful sirup and, later on, orders some prohibited food over the phone to Manny but on the sly.
featuring: morgue attendant Neil (actor Steve Franken) and the hysterical wife of Joseph Morton (actress Sharon Farrell).
 

Matt Hough

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This is an episode which would greatly improve with modern CGI techniques for the special effects. The biker is so hokey (obviously a huge upper torso shell balancing on a real man's shoulders) and so slow that suspense and horror are minimized to the point of absurdity. I like the premise, but they just weren't able to execute it properly at all.
 

JohnHopper

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Episode #16
“Demon in Lace”
written by Stephen Lord, Michael Kozoll and David Chase
story by Stephen Lord
directed by Don Weis
music score by Gil Mellé and Jerry Fielding (stock)
guests: Keenan Wynn, Jackie Vernon, Kristina Holland, Carolyn Jones, Andrew Prine, Carmen Zapata, Maria Grimm, Ben Masters, Milton Parsons, John Elerick, Davis Roberts, Don Mantooth, Hunter von Leer, Margie Impert, Iris Edwards

Carl Kolchak: “No law against dropping dead.”
Captain Joe Siska: “You put that on the wire and I’ll have you eighty-sixed permanently.”


Item: It’s a genuinely good entry and the last one by Don Weis—who achieves a fine body of work of four gems—and that takes place in the Illinois State Technical College led by archaeology Professor C. Evan Spate—well-played by actor Andrew Prine—who translates Sumerian cuneiforms from a tablet and Kolchak clumsily pretends to work for the Archaeological Quarterly and is unmasked. As in “The Vampire” (also directed by Don Weis), witness another attractive female trapping men (see football player Don Rhiner, archaeology student Mark Hansen, archaeology student Michael Thompson who escapes from death at the very last minute while Kolchak hits the tablet with a hammer) but who end up scared to death or, to be precise, a spirit that inhabits the body of dead women stinking putrefaction aka the death smell that only war veterans know: see knockout junkie Marlene Franks, drunk Betty Walker, entertainer Maria Vanegas who laughs like a nut when meeting Professor Spate.

Captain Joe Siska: “Look, Kolchak. I gotta tell you something. Some people dream about retiring.”
Carl Kolchak: “Uh, huh.”
Captain Joe Siska: “I dream about breaking your face”
Carl Kolchak: [kisses] “I love you too, Siska. Listen. How’s your therapy coming along? A-okay?”
Captain Joe Siska: “Shut up!”
Carl Kolchak [laughing]


Item: The change of tone from extremely pleasant (eros) with Gil Mellé’s music to totally horrible (thanatos) with Jerry Fielding’s music is well-made during the first shocking night death executed by the female demon in the campus’ outdoors. Find the return of the angry Captain Joe ‘Mad Dog’ Siska from “The Spanish Moss Murders” and Kolchak borrows the badge of a cop at the precinct to obtain infos from a rigid female bureaucrat by posing as an official of Internal Affairs. As in the previous episodes, Kolchak is exfiltrated from the scene of the crime by a common man in blue. As in “The Zombie” with The Monk, Kolchak meets a religious informer named Dr. Salem Mozart who works in a cheap and sinister office in the middle of a sordid basement and suffers from narcolepsy like Paul Langlois and Kolchak also refuses to team up with a female greenhorn (student Rosalind Winters) that reminds Monique as a clingy burden. For the record, Kolchak’s long sunny car entrance to the scene of the crime is superb and is punctuated by composer Jerry Fielding’s dog tailing cue for “The Devil’s Platform”. Among other things, contains stock music by Gil Mellé (“The Ripper”), Jerry Fielding (“The Devil’s Platform”, “Firefall”, “The Werewolf”, “The Trevi Collection”) and Greig McRitchie (“Horror in the Heights”).

Captain Joe Siska: “Is that a popular address for the boys in this frat?”
The Eyewitness Student: “No. And it’s ‘fraternity’. We don’t call it a frat anymore.”
Captain Joe Siska: “Don’t get lippy with me, boy. I might be tempted to go into your room and kind of poke around. Might find some funny vegetables in there.”


police head: Captain Joe ‘Mad Dog’ Siska (actor Keenan Wynn).
monster: a succubus (a Sumerian she-devil) that provokes death by fear and heart attacks.
Tony’s tidbit: Tony reveals to the staff that he used to be a drum player of his own band (Tony Vincenzo’s Neapolitans) in the 1940’s and can’t bear Kolchak’s morbid case and dreams of good news and happy stories.
featuring: Vespa rider and androgynous Jane Fondaesque student reporter Rosalind Winters (actress Kristina Holland) for the Blue Monitor (the campus weekly) and archaeology professor C. Evan Spate (actor Andrew Prine).
 

JohnHopper

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Find the return of the angry Captain Joe ‘Mad Dog’ Siska from “The Spanish Moss Murders”

Captain Joe Siska: “Look, Kolchak. I gotta tell you something. Some people dream about retiring.”
Carl Kolchak: “Uh, huh.”
Captain Joe Siska: “I dream about breaking your face”
Carl Kolchak: [kisses] “I love you too, Siska. Listen. How’s your therapy coming along? A-okay?”
Captain Joe Siska: “Shut up!”
Carl Kolchak [laughing]

 

JohnHopper

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Find the return of the angry Captain Joe ‘Mad Dog’ Siska from “The Spanish Moss Murders”

Captain Joe Siska: “Is that a popular address for the boys in this frat?”
The Eyewitness Student: “No. And it’s ‘fraternity’. We don’t call it a frat anymore.”
Captain Joe Siska: “Don’t get lippy with me, boy. I might be tempted to go into your room and kind of poke around. Might find some funny vegetables in there.”

 

Matt Hough

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By the way, I received the Blu-ray set of Kolchak yesterday which I bought on the currently running sale from Kino. I watched "The Ripper" last night, and while I will only watch one per day (and then rewatch with the commentary), it's already clear that the HD masters are huge leaps in quality from the DVDs. No, they're not completely free of specks and marks, but the clarity is much improved, and the darker scenes are helped immeasurably by the higher definition of the image.
 

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