Kolchak Blogging: "The Zombie" (September 20, 1974)
If I could only recommend one episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-1975) to a friend, it would be this episode, “The Zombie,” which is suspenseful, but also serves as a perfect time capsule of the mid-1970’s. Lest we forget it, Kolchak, The Night Stalker aired in the era of "hero" journalists like Woodward and Bernstein, right after the Watergate Scandal. Embedded in the series' DNA is the then-popular belief that one man can fight City Hall; that one man can make a difference. In the series, Kolchak is always battling corrupt cops or politicians and trying (and often failing...) to get the truth out to the people. This was before the age of a corporate news business and compliant "talking points" media. Kolchak -- for all his failures as a human being -- is a sterling journalist and a paragon of virtue in the sense that he always follows a story...no matter where it takes him. Unlike today’s media, which is more interested n ratings than the truth, he isn’t afraid to speak truth to power.
Kolchak finds his living-dead quarry at an unconventional "place of the dead," an auto junkyard (where cars go to die.). In particular, Kolchak happens across the zombie in a wrecked funeral hearse. We watch with mounting suspense as Kolchak crawls in through the back of the hearse and methodically pours salt into the zombie's mouth. He slowly takes out the needle and is about to begin sewing the lips shut when...
...the zombie's eyes open and Kolchak - terrified - shrieks and hightails it out of the hearse.