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31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 1: Night Stalker

October 1, the first day of my favorite time of year. Crisp leaves crunching under the feet of passerby, the smell of autumn in the air, apple orchards, hayrides, bonfires, and a cornucopia of color, all usher in the beginning of the Holiday season.

As I sat and reflected on these titillating particulars, my thoughts drifted to anamnestic and mnemonic images of hockey masks, leather sacks, bedsheets, and acupuncture needles. I love to watch movies. I love to watch movies about Halloween during the month of October. Not Halloween per se, but movies that are themed around horror, and everything else within that genre. I’m not normally one for gruesome gore porn type of films, but the occasional one slips into my viewing queue.

It is with great fanfare that I begin this new journey for the month of October 2013 of watching one film per day and blogging a brief review, for your reading pleasure.

My hopes in doing so are that you will find a film that you can seek out, if you may dare, and add to your queue. Perhaps you have seen it and want to revisit the hallowed haunting grounds. Even better yet, you either have seen and loved, or loathed, the film and simply want to refresh your memory of the reasons why. It is with these intentions that I have taken on such a task.

Thus, I now give you, without further ado:

31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 1: Night Stalker


Director: John Llewellyn Moxey
Year: 1972
Cast: Darren McGavin, Carol Lynley, Simon Oakland, Claude Akins, Barry Atwater
Language: English
Country: United States
Specs: 74 mins. / Color / OAR 1.33:1 / MPAA Rating: N/A

An investigative reporter, notices a strange set of circumstances involving a number of recent homicides in the city. He begins to suspect that the murder may be a vampire, and sets out to prove his theory before all around him commit him to a mental hospital.

Minutes into my viewing, it became evident that I was about to witness a great, modern-day, detective-noir film. The narration by the main character Kolchak, along with the moody 70’s cinematography, instantly transported me to a world of mystery and suspense with a supernatural bent. Darren McGavin (A Christmas Story) shines as the reporter caught between politics and the desire to uncover and report on the truth, something that was very much on the minds of people at the time this film was made (and still is, no doubt!).

I was engaged throughout the entire film, immersed in the tales of cover-ups, corruptions, and intrigue. The story was very well written, especially given the confines of 70’s television. Proof positive that good storytelling needn’t have the crutches or vices common to a modern Rated R feature film in order to deliver.


Richard Matheson, writer of numerous episodes of the classic Rod Serling anthology TV series, The Twilight Zone, as well as timeless novels such as Hell House, I Am Legend, and The Incredible Shrinking Man, here again displayed his prowess as an auteur of the genre. Taking a novel (at the time unpublished) titled The Kolchak Papers and adapting it as his own, Matheson was able to deliver to producer Dan Curtis (Dark Shadows) a tale that would lure McGavin to commit to this made-for-tv ABC movie.

It became very evident, mere moments into watching this film, why a sequel, titled The Night Strangler, would arrive the following year, as well as a television series titled Kolchak: The Night Stalker for the ’74-’75 season.

My only qualm, and it has nothing to do with the quality of the film itself, is that I wasn’t able to enjoy this in glorious HD. My hope is that someone over at Criterion stumbles across this blog, and grants the wish of one new fan.

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2013 in Movies, TV Shows

 

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Vudu and HuluPlus on PS3: Streaming For All?

The deceptive lie. Can you spot it?

Sony recently announced that they would be carrying the Vudu On-Demand movie service on the PS3, thus joining the week old announcement that HuluPlus would also be joining the PS3’s digital media features which already include Netflix Streaming and the PSN store.

My first reaction of the HuluPlus news, according to the press release, was that of joy.  Advertising that “ALL Playstation 3 owners” would have access to the media that is available on HuluPlus for the small monthly fee (which when announced was $9.99/month, but was wisely dropped to $7.99/month mere days ago) was a welcome option to those of us residing outside the U.S.  That joy, however, was quickly diminished once visiting the actual website, where it was clearly noted that any ISP from outside the U.S. would be blocked.

The screen users outside the U.S. are greeted with upon entering the Hulu site.

The same thing goes for both Netflix and the PSN store itself, even though my PS3 is an American console with a U.S. based PSN account with a U.S. based credit card.  True to form, yesterdays announcement regarding Vudu followed suit, and will only be available to those living inside the U.S. of A.  In fact, the only option I have to legally obtain content comes from Apple via iTunes.

What is wrong with you, content providers?  Why must you block people who want to LEGALLY obtain your content, thus lining your coffers with cold hard cash, from viewing the media so many people have worked so very hard to create?  As an artist myself, I would much rather know that people around the world can see my work legally, easily, and pay for it than have them search the internet for a torrent of the film, thus likely never paying for the film once it does reach their market.

I believe that by installing such ridiculous crippling policies you are “hurting” those systems that carry your service (PS3, Xbox 360, TiVo, etc) from selling the machines they are attempting to unload by carrying your service.  Any person that resides outside the U.S. will forgo purchasing their unit for any reason beyond the obvious main use the device serves, opting instead for a device that will allow them to view the material you are trying to sell.  Don’t believe me?  Check any dozen of forums out there pertaining to those devices to see the flaming taking place.  (I will avoid using this space to write of the simply foolish act of charging $7.99/month and then putting commercials into the stream (HuluPlus), nor to write of the baffling charge of $5.99 per movie (Vudu) when sites like Amazon and the aforementioned iTunes offer the same content for $1.99!, as that would be a whole blog in itself.)

Even more baffling, I’ll point to the recent wonderful practice of offering films for rent via On Demand, Amazon VOD, and iTunes pre-theatrical release for the price of a movie theater ticket.  Recent films “Freakonomics”, “Client-9”, “Monsters”, and “[REC]2”, were all available for me to view via iTunes, yet were unavailable in my region on the other platforms mentioned.  What the reasoning could possibly be has left me bewildered, to say the least.  I’m confident many more with iTunes accounts around the globe gave money to Magnolia Pictures, as I did, through Apples wonderful program.  Sadly, much more could have been made had Amazon and On Demand not been region locked.

I’m simply writing this to tell you that you would easily earn my hard earned money were these silly restrictions lifted.  As you can imagine, I’m not the only person who holds these views.  There are scores of people who would pay for the instant convenience these platforms provide, as opposed to the hassle and unsafe practice of downloading suspicious torrents.

Take some advice from yourselves, and pay heed to the old proverb, “If you build it, they will come.”

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2010 in Movies, TV Shows

 

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