Archive for the ‘Darren McGavin’ Tag

Kolchak Meets Poe in New Graphic Novel   Leave a comment


By C. Michael Forsyth

Before there was The X Files and Supernatural, there was Kolchak: The Nightstalker, and before H.P. Lovecraft, there was Edgar Allan Poe. Both these wellsprings of the macabre fueled my imagination when I was a teenager, and it is a delight to see them combined in a recent graphic novel.

In Kolchak, The Night Stalker: Forgotten Lore of Edgar Allan Poe, the intrepid monster-chasing reporter played by Darren McGavin in the 1974-1975 TV show, is back in action, knee-deep in paranormal mysteries revolving around tales by Poe—the grandfather of the weird short story. The writer, James Chambers, does a smashing job of recapturing the personality of the determined underdog, as well as the show’s storytelling style. In the book, Kolchak has a series of adventures, each playing off of a Poe story, including The Telltale Heart, The Premature Burial, the Black Cat, the Tomb of Ligeia and The Masque of the Red Death. These episodes, while satisfying reads individually, are all linked by a narrative that runs through the graphic novel—concerning a magician obsessed with Poe. There are plenty of nuggets to please Poe fans, such as a character named Annabelle Lee.

kolchak. com

REPORTER Kolchak hasn’t lost his knack for uncovering the uncanny.

Carl Kolchak is unchanged, still sporting his signature rumpled white suit and straw hat. He has made a few concessions to 2017. Instead of his old tape recorder and typewriter, he travels with a laptop that he uses to Skype his boss, the grumpy Tony Vincenzo. An interesting touch is that three different artists with distinct styles contributed to the book, depicting the character with varying degrees of success. Between Luis Czerniawski, Felipe Kroll and Jim Fern, I think the last does the best job in nailing McGavin’s mischievous Irish face. To me, the actor resembled a less-handsome Sean Connery.

Darren Best

ICONIC Kolchak was only on TV for one year.

I was a huge fan of the series, in which Kolchak, a reporter for the fictional INS wire service, investigated crimes that invariably turned out to have a supernatural cause. The police were useless, either refusing to believe anything abnormal was going on, or getting tossed about like rag dolls by whatever creature happened to be wreaking havoc that week. So, the plucky journalist always had to take matters into his own hands and dispatch the monster.

In the course of the show, Kolchak’s investigative reporting turned up vampires, werewolves, mummies, doppelgangers and many other of the usual unusual suspects. What made the show so great was McGavin’s character: sly, streetwise, with a sense of humor. I often thought that Kolchak would be fun to follow even if there were no supernatural element and he was doggedly exposing crooked politicians and solving ordinary crimes.

Although the iconic character was McGavin’s best work and is his chief legacy as an actor, he wasn’t satisfied with the show, despite rewriting many scenes himself, and bailed after one season. He was principally frustrated with the monster-of-the-week aspect of the show. This was, indeed, its main weakness. It was never explained why Kolchak “just happened” to stumble onto the supernatural on a regular basis. Chris Carter, creator of The X Files, cites The Night Stalker as his biggest source of inspiration. And in his show that problem is solved: his heroes’ job is hunting the paranormal.

As a kid watching The Night Stalker, I came up with my own explanation that is as good as any. Kolchak, although he doesn’t know it, has been appointed by some higher power to be a champion of good, a white-suited knight battling the darkness.

Check out works by this reviewer, including the horror novel Hour of the BeastHERE.


In Hour of the Beast, a young bride is raped by a werewolf on her wedding night. When her sons grow up and head to college, things REALLY get out of hand.

Scary “The Revenant Road” is a Supernatural “Men in Black”   Leave a comment

Evil creatures take up residence in our world in The Revenant Road.

By C. Michael Forsyth

The novel The Revenant Road takes readers on a thrilling roller-coaster ride through the supernatural realm.

It’s the story of Obadiah Grudge, a snooty writer of gruesome novels who finds himself shanghaied into following his father’s footsteps in the family business — hunting monsters.

I read the book after running into the author Michael Boatman at the Horror Writers Association convention earlier this summer. At first, when I spotted his familiar face across the ballroom where we were signing books, I thought he might be a relative or maybe someone I went to school with. But turned out he’s also an actor, best known for his role as gay mayoral aide Carter Heywood on TV’S “Spin City.” (The brother garnered five NAACP Image Award nominations for that gig.)

FAMILIAR FACE: Actor/writer Michael Boatman is best known to viewers from TV's Spin City.

Well, we might not be relatives, but we share certain sensibilities when it comes to horror. I can see that the same stuff that I loved as a kid influenced him. Remember “The Night Stalker,” that ’70’s show featuring unlikely monster hunter Carl Kolchak, a wily wire-service reporter? How the creature of the week would always toss cops around like rag dolls? You’ll find a terrifying scene like that in The Revenant Road.

MONSTER HUNTER Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin) battled evil while filing news reports no one would ever believe in TV's The Night Stalker.

Obadiah is reluctantly drawn into the monster hunting game by his late dad’s former partner Neville Kowalski, a crusty old coot. He discovers that he’s been recruited into a secret organization that tracks down and evicts “Squatters,” evil creatures that have snuck into our world and taken up residence. The story is also reminiscent of one of my favorite flicks, “Men in Black”, in which cocky young Will Smith and grizzled veteran Tommy Lee Jones hunt illegal aliens who really ARE aliens.

ANOTHER HUNTING DUO: Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith chased illegal "aliens" in "Men in Black."

What I always like in a horror novel is that there’s a coherent and original explanation for the paranormal events. Boatman delivers this. It turns out that there’s a parallel universe next to ours, called the Wraithing, filled to the brim with nasty things. Sometimes they slip past the guardians of the universe into our world. The Squatters make contact with a human who, whether through thirst for power or weakness of character, is vulnerable and willingly accepts possession. The symbiotic result is a werewolf, vampire or even worse thing that goes bump in the night.

The book unfolds like a mystery, as the author slowly reveals to us just what is going on. I like Obadiah’s character arc. He believably transitions from a whiny, over-intellectual, pompous, self-centered jerk so annoying you want to pop him in the jaw, to a selfless, two-fisted hero willing to go toe-to-toe with the world’s most dangerous monsters.

Obadiah and Kowalski’s chief quarry is formidable: a giant, indestructible, Bigfoot-like shape-shifter. In the warm-up to their confrontation with the Yeren, as it’s called, the duo do battle with a slew of other monsters, including a Shaq-sized minotaur and, most memorably, a blood-slurping Oprah from Hell.

But that’s not the worst of it. Obadiah finally comes face to face with his personal boogeyman. That would be Carlos Volpe, a werewolf so evil that he had metal bonded to his teeth and filed to points so he could kill more people when the moon WASN’T full! He was hanged decades ago, but death only made him more dangerous. Like Freddy Krueger, the child-killer who evolves into something far more monstrous post mortem, in “Nightmare on Elm Street,” Volpe is a demonic entity powerful and clever enough to claim Obadiah’s soul.

I love that when Volpe makes his appearance, he doesn’t speak in that arch tone we’re used to from Bond supervillains. He’s hip and funny. When scared-stiff Obadiah asks what he really wants, Volpe wisecracks, “a lap dance from Condoleezza Rice with full release.”

There are such touches of humor throughout, including plenty of one-liners from brainy, sarcastic Obadiah. And it’s blackly funny when a series of literary critics under demonic influence come to do a hatchet job on him — literally.

The ending sets us up for a sequel, which I’d sorely love to see. More importantly the fast-paced, highly visual tale would make a darned good movie. And I know just the guy to play a smart-ass black writer!

HOUR OF THE BEAST, by C. Michael Forsyth is "easy to read, hard to put down," according to a Reader Favorites reviewer. And the eBook is a STEAL at just $5!

To check out HOUR OF THE BEAST, click HERE.

On the HOUR OF THE BEAST front…

I’ve busted my cherry! I attended my very first horror convention, Flashback Weekend in Chicago, August 12 through 14, to hawk my horror novel Hour of the Beast.

It was a blast hanging out with horror fans and hobnobbing with fellow genre writers, comic book creators and movie makers.

My wife Kaye and I made new acquaintances brought along by castmembers of hit TV show The Walking Dead.

HOUR OF THE BEAST author C. Michael Forsyth at Flashback Weekend.

FANS like these made Flashback Weekend unforgetable.

And I was afraid CRITICS would slash my book!

THE SILENT TREATMENT: This fan, as a zombie Charlie Chaplin, has nothing bad to say about Hour of the Beast.

My very first horror-convention book buyer!

YOUNG and old, horror fans were drawn to strange prop on my table.

Following the suggestion of a pal, Pirates of Savannah author Tarrin Lupo, I brought along a prop: a severed werewolf hand floating in a jar. Now I thought the thing would hardly raise an eyebrow in a dealers’ room packed with horror memorabilia and props crafted by Hollywood special effects experts and haunted house designers. But it worked like a charm, drawing curious attendees to my table like flies. These hardcore horror fans who live for special effects AND creators of those effects thought it was incredibly cool and wanted to know its history. I think what sold it was the yellowed paper describing it as having been “displayed by the Revlos Bros. Traveling Circus circa 1928. “ That and the REAL BONE at the stump — although one skeptical 8-year-old girl suggested the hand “should be scientifically tested.”

LABEL on my werewolf hand jar proved intriguing.

A REAL PICKLE: The former owner of this hand apparently had a run-in with a silver bullet.

ROBERT ENGLUND, everyone's favorite child killer turned dream demon in "Nightmare on Elm Street" introduced a screening of his latest opus, 'The Molemen of Belmont Avenue."

MALCOM MCDOWELL was the only alien tough enough to kill Captain Kirk in Star Trek: Generations.

LANCE HENRIKSON was android Bishop in Aliens.

At the convention were movie legends Robert Englund of “Nightmare of Elm Street” fame, “Aliens” star Lance Henrikson, scream queen Linnea Quigley from “Return of the Living Dead,” Michael Booker of “The Walking Dead,” and “Hellraiser” stars Doug Bradley (Pinhead) and Ashley Lawrence — who now does really great and majorly creepy art.

LOVELY ladies like these graced Flashback Weekend.

VA-VA-VA DOOM! Winners of the Zombie Pinup Pageant

I got to catch a sneak preview of the “Fright Night” remake and I’ll post my review in next week’s blog. Also stay tuned for the video from the Zombie Pinup Pageant. You haven’t lived until you see two dozen exhibitionists in full zombie makeup strutting their stuff.

Speaking of which, the biggest surprise for me was the high proportion of female attendees — and how young and hot they were! An extraordinary number of them were in the company of geeky C.H.U.D.-like boyfriends. I mentioned to my wife how amazing it is that so many beautiful, brainy women are attracted to these nerdy, creative-type oddballs. Kaye, a physician who looks like a supermodel, responded, “Yeah, Mike. Really amazing.”