Kolchak: The Night Stalker
“Eve of Terror”
Most people are familiar with the old Charles Dickens saying, “beauty is only skin deep.” Yet, how many know the rest of that quote, which continues, “but ugly goes to the bone”?
“Eve of Terror,” an unfilmed episode that underwent multiple redrafts through March of 1975, is credited primarily to Stephen Lord (“Demon in Lace”) and Michael Kozoll (“Demon in Lace” and “The Knightly Murders”). Here The Night Stalker tackles the classic-monster Jekyll & Hyde theme, with a distaff twist during a period when network executives still thought “women’s liberation” was a buzzword. Per formula, a violent murder is set up for the show’s teaser, beginning with Kolchak talking into his trusty tape recorder, above.
INT. ACOUSTICS CONTROL ROOM – NIGHT
A complex lab setup with a soundproofed “anechoic chamber” inside which guinea pigs huddle under a barrage of high-frequency sound. The scientists in attendance are DR. MYRA DECKBAR, an attractive and dedicated researcher in her early 30s, and her assistant, technician WAYNE FRANKS. The experiment is being videotaped.
KOLCHAK (VO CONT’D)
April 4th, 9:00 P.M. Dr. Myra Deckbar, behavioral researcher, was on the brink of an important discovery. Her technician, Wayne Franks, was also on the brink … of death.
Okay, shut it down, Wayne. Reset for the next frequency.
(catching herself, smiling)
No need to patronize.
They’ve had this conversation before.
Who’s patronizing? It’s just polite to say please, isn’t it?
Who knows anymore? The whole world is cockeyed. Amy Vanderbilt is gone. People have turned against the automobile. And guys like me are taking orders from women.
Can the end be far off? To show you my heart’s in the right place, I’ll get you a cup of coffee.
I’m thrilled. Make mine sweet.
Coming through the door, Myra notices one of the guinea pigs is escaping the glass test cubicle. She enters the anechoic chamber to replace it as Wayne completes the calibrations and flips the generator on. Myra falls to the floor, hands over her ears, screaming — fully visible on the video monitor, but unseen by Wayne. In EXTREME CLOSEUP, we see tufts of hair sprout on the backs of Myra’s hands as she thrashes about. Wayne finally turns to the monitor with an “oh my god!” and shuts down the equipment to rush into the chamber. Myra moans in pain, fetally balled. Wayne moves to call an ambulance.
After a quick flash of the EMPTY chamber, Wayne hears a guttural noise behind him. He TURNS, screams once, and is BASHED against the wall. CAMERA FAVORS the escaping guinea pigs as we hear off-screen sounds of incredible violence.
The usual murder-scene bustle is in progress in the entry hall of the research center, with Kolchak trying to get past a cop.
How ‘bout a little look-see inside? Come on, just one teeny flash?
(grimacing at COP’s reaction)
I remember you now … I saw you at the morgue. Slab Number Three …
Poking around, Kolchak bluffs his way into an instrument repair room, where he eavesdrops via intercom on police lieutenant CHARLIE HURLOW and the center’s administrator, WALT KIMBERLY.
CORONER’S DEPUTY (OS)
… both arms broken. Couple of ribs, and his back. My guess is a song-and-dance team worked him over. Maybe even three guys. Worse bare-fisted beating I’ve ever seen.
The point is, a valuable spectrometer’s been stolen. Poor Franks got in the way of the thieves. But Dr. Deckbar, his immediate boss, is the one to talk to about that …
Kolchak’s ears prick and he rushes back into the throng. But Hurlow (in much the manner of “Mad Dog” Siska) refuses to actually blow up at Carl because of his ulcer. Without an incoming tirade, Kolchak actually seems off-kilter … just for a moment.
INT. MYRA’S APARTMENT – BEDROOM – DAY
Myra wakes up, haggard, drawn, remembering only brief flashes of scurrying lab animals. She answers a knock on her door to find her neighbor, GWYNNETH JORDAN, a fashion model.
Doctor Deckbar, we have a report that you’re heavily into … donuts. Is that true? We’ve got crullers, bear claws … That idiot photographer’s assistant is always bringing them to me. He wants me to gain weight so I’ll lose jobs and be dependent on him forever. Which wouldn’t be all that bad, except he always smells like a darkroom. Especially his hands.
During this, Myra begins to experience FLASHES of Wayne’s terrified expression from the night before. She tries to shake it off. She regards Gwynneth’s cutoffs and décolletage.
Gwynneth, it’s bad enough that you make your living letting your body be exploited by photographers, but do you have to run around like that on your time off?
How else does a girl get a man? Excuse me. Not “girl” – woman.
9:30 A.M. I had the name Myra Deckbar and the telephone book had her address. What I didn’t have was a siren on my car. For want of it, the race was lost.
As Kolchak scrambles through the halls searching for Myra’s apartment, Lt. Hurlow and a uniformed COP report Wayne’s death to Myra. Kolchak gets the door slammed in his face by the Cop.
Any chance that you’re somebody’s uncle, and not here on business?
(to the door)
They really are lovely encyclopedias … won’t you reconsider?
Kolchak encounters Gwynneth outside. She asks if he is connected with what is going on.
I’m a reporter. In this life, anyway. I can’t imagine what I might have done in past lives to wind up like this.
I used to go out with a reporter. Not the greatest job in the world. But you make your own bed. You’re pushy, loudmouths, smart alecks, liars …
Certainly doesn’t sound like someone I’d want to consider a professional colleague.
That’s good. To tell you the truth, the more I think about him, the more my stomach starts to turn. But I guess I’m just worried sick about Myra. She and Wayne worked together every day for at least a year.
Awful. Were they closer than just a working relationship?
Yeah, they went out. But see what I mean? Pushy. Every sentence has an angle behind it. He used to drive me nuts with that.
Okay, sorry. I’ll try to think of something to say that isn’t loaded.
Did you ever meet Wayne Franks?
Kolchak can’t think of anything “safe.”
Even longer beat. Finally, Gwynneth cracks:
I feel so bad for her. She did like Wayne, even though she said he was a pig; she was just joking when she said it. She was actually very fond of him. It’s just he felt his ideas about women were old fashioned — kind of sexist. It was a joke they shared. She has very strong feelings about the role of women in society; the way men relate to us.
How do you feel about it?
Boy, that’s just the way Leonard would have asked that — ready to pin me to the mat.
Kolchak gives up in exasperation. Gwynneth returns to her apartment as Lt. Hurlow emerges from Myra’s place, fobbing Kolchak off with “no leads, no explanations.” Plus: He has warned Myra Deckbar about Kolchak, leaving Carl to do a slow burn.
At the INS office, Kolchak argues the killing is not as “routine” as everyone else seems to claim. It turns out that Tony Vincenzo and Lt. Hurlow have the same gastrointestinal specialist, and Hurlow has already placed a friendly phone call to Tony.
He’s walking around with an earthquake in his gut. And Carl, you’re an 8.6 on the Richter scale!
Tony attempts to fob the Myra Deckbar case off to Updyke while re-assigning Kolchak to cover the arrival in Chicago of actress Veronica Mason.
Remember your own logical syllogisms, Carl? All stories on sexy women sell. All stories that sell make Tony happy. Ergo, we only have two possible deductions: A: the Veronica Mason arrival is your kind of story, or B: you do not have a job.
Your logic’s as bad as your news sense. What’s the matter with you today, anyway?
That maniac neighbor kid and his lousy Nakijima.* His old man told me to go take a wade in Lake Michigan. Can you believe the gall? He says there’s no law against noisy motorcycles if they have mufflers on them. Every morning at 4:00 A.M. I get blown out of bed by that bike.
Vincenzo is DROWNED OUT by the roar of the El passing the INS office. He has to yell over the din … about noise pollution.
INT. HOTEL LOBBY – DAY
4:00 P.M., the Walton Hotel. Following Vincenzo’s dictates usually ends up with me bored out of my mind. But if I don’t cover the story properly, he gripes for days on end. I didn’t know it at 4:00, but Tony’s griping was the last thing I’d have to worry about. And it almost was really the last thing …
HARRY PRINE, assistant manager of the Walton, is coincidentally showing the banquet facilities to a group of behaviorists that includes Myra Deckbar, who is trying to ease her memory of Wayne’s murder by “staying involved in things,” which translates as helping her colleague LILLIAN plan a behaviorists’ luncheon. The commotion of VERONICA MASON’s arrival in the lobby draws their attention.
I’ve seen her on TV. Doesn’t it make you want to crawl out of your skin?
But does she really know what she’s doing? It’s medieval types like Craig Temple who put her in those horrible movies.
Come on, she plays right into his hands. Laps it up. She pulls us all down. She’s as bad as Temple himself.
Why don’t you do something to change it? Get really involved with women’s rights instead of just carping?
Just commenting. Let them do their thing. Speeches and rallies and committees never really changed civilization anyway.
But I’m not talking about civilization
I’m talking about barbarians.
Case in point: the usual publicity b.s. ensues as CRIAG TEMPLE is introduced to the media. He BUMPS a podium microphone, causing a high WHINE of feedback that seems to STUN Myra. She retreats to a fire stairwell. We see her hands as her metamorphosis begins again.
Maids scurry to prep the Walton Hotel’s Room 202 for Veronica. The transformed Myra has managed to secret herself inside the room.
Inside the elevator, Veronica sheds her naïve sexpot routine and snaps harshly at Temple:
I told you to have at least six cops around me, dummy!
Kolchak recognizes hotel manager Prine and cadges Veronica’s room number via elementary blackmail:
Remember the good old days in South Bend? That quaint little motel you used to manage?
Disgusted with the lapdog routine performed by Temple and his obsequious assistant, ARTIE, Veronica yells them out of her suite along with the entire entourage. We see the closet door in the suite is ajar.
Veronica, in the process of undressing, looks up and SCREAMS just as Kolchak trundles down the hallway outside. As he reaches 202, Myra’s alter-ego EXPLODES through the door, bowling Carl over.
INT. 202 – LIVING ROOM - DAY
Later. The room is torn apart. Veronica is a corpse. And Kolchak has a sizable lump on his noggin.
The one time you’re in a position to help us instead of being a thorn in our side, Kolchak, and you come up with this muck?!
It. Was. A. Woman. How many ways can I tell you? Une femme. Muchacha. Fraulein! Yes, I may only have seen her for half a second. Yes, she may have been the ugliest, most frightening thing I’ve ever seen. And yes, those arms that hit me may have had muscles like garage door hinges … but it was a woman all the same!
As usual, Hurlow dismisses Kolchak as useless. Kolchak returns to INS, where, as Tony wakes up from his “nap” (five hours), Carl peruses a set of martial arts photos featuring women.
Why didn’t someone wake me up? It’s 7:30!
Because it was the best five hours we’ve had around here since we had to stop work and evacuate because of that bomb scare.
I’ve always felt that you phoned in that bomb scare.
I know, and it’s insulting to me.
It wasn’t easy staying asleep in there. Between your chair and the El trains … then they started jack-hammering the sidewalk.
Sidewalk’s intact, Tony — that was your snoring.
Remember “Wanda Jean, the B-17?”
Lady wrestler, hung out at the Little Dublin? **
Well, now she’s Wanda Jean McNeil, owner of the McNeil Studio of Martial Arts. She gave me these. She told me it’s possible a woman could inflict the kind of beating that killed Veronica Mason — without knowing martial arts. It’s concentration, adrenalin flow. She says it’s documented that a housewife in Wisconsin turned over a Chevy pickup to free her trapped husband.
And with her free hand, rotated the tires as long as the truck was already up in the air. Is Hurlow on the Mason number? Then I want you off it. Stay away from that poor guy!
INT. ACOUSTICS LAB – NIGHT
Myra returns to consciousness clutching her lab passkeys. Her hands are bloody, her pantsuit jacket ripped. FLASHBACKS of Wayne and now Veronica, their faces etched in terror. Frantic, Myra flips through her notebooks and logs, trying to account for the time, finally remembering the videotape monitor. She watches herself fall to the floor of the anechoic chamber under a barrage of sound exceeding 100 decibels. Hearing a SECURITY GUARD approach, she quickly neatens up and hides the videotape. Drawn out into the corridor by the Guard’s small TV, she WATCHES a newscast concerning Veronica’s murder, during which Craig Temple primps, flanked by two exotic women, and doles out the usual Beverly Hills remorse for the cameras.
Mr. Temple, your lifestyle has been bitterly criticized by a number of women’s rights groups. Do you consider yourself an exploiter of women?
Contrary to popular belief, I’m a businessman, not a sexual athlete. I happen to enjoy women. All kinds of women.
The sound of a passing POLICE SIREN outside stabs at Myra. The guard, fixated on the TV, doesn’t notice, and bids her goodnight as she moves away.
They say you use women as playthings.
Myra is SEEN TO SPROUT FANGS.
Do you think a woman should be a possession?
A smart woman does. She knows she’ll be loved, showered with gifts and affection. She wants to be possessed.
With a beastly snarl, Myra’s alter-ego pushes through an exit door and lopes into the night.
INT. TEMPLE ESTATE – CONFERENCE ROOM – NIGHT
Temple confers with executive peers BARNES, RAMPANELLI, and NIELSEN about a sex-symbol replacement for the late Veronica Mason. In attendance is Temple’s aide, MELINDA.
How do we feel about Blythe Yarnell? She’s the boat show’s “Miss Quick Ignition.” Nineteen years old, five-foot-six and three quarters, 35-22-24 …
OUTSIDE, the red eyes of Myra’s alter-ego glare through the French doors.
Okay, but let’s have another look at the Blythe Yarnell nudes. Maybe we can live with her chest …
The alter-ego EXPLODES through the glass, frothing and growling. She zeroes in on Temple as the flunkies go sprawling. When Temple’s lifeless body is flung across the room, we see that he had captured a fistful of the monster’s coarse hair …
… which is probed by tweezers as we FLASH FORWARD to the murder investigation, Lt. Hurlow in charge, with Kolchak eavesdropping, as usual.
Please, Miss. Try to describe it. The clothes, anyway.
Okay … it had on a green tailored suit with velvet buttons and a bolero jacket. Conservative chic — you know, understated elegance.
A hairy fiend in understated elegance? A hairy female?
Hurlow begins to massage his ulcer zone.
Kolchak, still unnoticed, talks with a CORONER. An INSPECTOR arrives to inform Hurlow that the missing spectrometer has turned up at a technician’s home, under repair. Scratch robbery as the motive for the Franks murder.
April 27th, 10:12 A.M. Noise. It was bad today, an incessant roar of human bumper pool that diced my thinking into threes — three appearances of the “fiend,” three executives who’d never play the violin, and three victims somehow related.
INT. MYRA’S OFFICE – DAY
Kolchak “interviews” Myra under the false auspices of Science Log Annual.
We’ve succeeded in controlling the behavior of animals by subjecting them to sonic stimulation. The chamber is so constructed that nothing can vibrate —
— except their little brains. You mean you could take a vicious dog, pop him into that chamber, bounce some decibels off his head and turn him into a cuddly little puppy?
Bouncing decibels off heads …?
Myra is clearly fatigued but she shows Kolchak the rest of the setup, including the video recorder, before she finally starts to see through him.
I guess we should be candid, doctor.
I’ll give you thirty seconds of candor before I call the security guard.
Craig Temple and Veronica Mason personified certain types of personalities. Male chauvinist and female — what would I call it? — chauvinee? I heard Wayne Franks was in the Craig Temple vein. Is that true?
Stone wall, from Myra. Kolchak makes tracks for the Chicago office of the National Women’s Alliance, theorizing that a “misguided feminist faction or splinter group” might be behind the crimes. NWA official PAMELA DeLORCA says no way.
It wouldn’t be a fringe. We recognize violence as the most primitive manifestation of male irrationality. Violence flourishes where reason fails.
But that doesn’t preclude a woman from doing it.
True. I can’t speak for individuals, male or female. People do go wrong, and when wrong means violence, it usually comes from repressing one’s feelings, doesn’t it? But why are you so sure it was a woman? Why this tenacity? Are you repressing hostility? Is it your wife, your girlfriend?
I’m manifesting my male rationality. The theory makes sense.
Does it? Tell me, do you feel threatened by the women in your life awakening to their true potentials? Come on, man, open the tubes! Blast out those hostilities into the sunshine! Clean house … uh, as it were.
Meanwhile, Myra, still in the lab, sets the sonic gear to produce a steady, low-frequency hum. She enters the chamber and is quietly, pleasantly anesthetized by the sound.
Kolchak ferrets out DR. THOMAS TESKY, a member of the state board of criminal psychiatry (which underwrites Myra’s project). Tesky explains behavior modification via sonics to Kolchak. But what if there’s an accident?
You mean jazz around with the frequencies? I don’t think an American would do that. But it’s uncharted territory. It could get very creative, depending of course on what’s inside the person’s subconscious.
INT. ACOUSTICS LAB – NIGHT
In venerable Kolchak fashion, Carl has broken into the lab after-hours and is rooting around the dark offices for leads. He discovers the hidden videotape. When he plays it, he sees Myra’s lab accident and transformation. He sneaks out as we CUT to Myra’s apartment, where she and Gwynneth sit chatting.
… so whatever the doctors prescribed, eat the entire bottle! You look so great.
Thanks. I’m feeling better. But I think I’d better talk with Dr. Kimberly, or someone …
Myra’s self-dose of sonics has restored her. Gwynneth returns to her own apartment to prepare for a date just as a JET PASSING OVERHEAD causes Myra to wince in pain. Myra cries out, attempting to fight the gathering seizure. She stumbles into the hallway, where, as the script says:
… the complete metamorphic of the Alter-Ego develops — a hideous face with wild, bristling hair, bushy eyebrows, flared nostrils, high bony cheeks, and a wide mouth with brutish teeth.
Gwynneth emerges into the hall, locking her door just in time to look up to meet the gaze of the creature. She panics, running for the hall stairs, shedding her platform shoes en route. She makes the roof with the Alter-Ego hot on her heels just as Kolchak arrives as Myra’s apartment.
Kolchak hears Gwynneth’s screams and runs upstairs, punching a fire alarm along the way. On the roof the Alter-Ego CATCHES Gwynneth and HOISTS her for a body-slam off the roof, as Kolchak bursts through the fire doors, SHOUTING.
The Alter-Ego abandons Gwynneth to chase Kolchak, who fends her off with an aluminum folding lounge chair. She shoves him through a smokestack, then off the roof.
Gathering spectators see Kolchak DANGLING as the Alter-Ego pries one of his hands loose from the ledge. The SIREN of an approaching fire engine causes the creature to hesitate and clamp its hands over its ears. Kolchak scrambles back onto the roof and breaks off a TV antenna to keep his distance from the monster. More sirens. The Alter-Ego blood-lusts for Carl, but the NOISE causes it pain. It GRABS Kolchak again and they BOTH go over the edge.
Kolchak manages a last-minute GRAB as the monster flails wildly, plummeting to its death. Gwynneth helps Kolchak back onto the roof and they both look over the edge to see firemen turn over the dead body of Myra Deckbar.
INT. INS OFFICES – NIGHT
Kolchak wraps it up, speaking to his tape recorder.
What toppled onto that pavement was clearly not the body of a vicious, superhuman killer, so the murders remain “unsolved.” However, I was forced to turn over my story, together with the Deckbar tapes, to the research center. And today in that same research lab, another behavioral scientist is conducting top secret research in sonic stimulation, maybe trying to discover what vibes turn him on, and hopefully off. As for me, I’ve begun to think about the noise …
Kolchak winces fatalistically as another El train roars past outside. FADE OUT/END.
Whoo, boy, the 1970s were a long time ago … and yet Hillary Clinton has still not learned the protocol of “chic pantsuits.”
KTNS featured relatively few intellectual monsters — that is, witches or devils who might engage Carl in a bit of James Bond-style gloating before attempting to rip him to ribbons. (There are exceptions, usually from the devil’s-deal column, such as Robert Palmer in “The Devil’s Platform” and Madelaine in “The Trevi Collection”). For the most part, the monsters were bestial, depicted as hissing, spitting predators — not evil in a moral sense, just dangerous.
“Eve of Terror” hints at a passing moral evil — that Myra Deckbar subconscious, like the Id of Morbius in Forbidden Planet, determined her destiny as the Alter-Ego. In Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Hyde is a monster true to form, but one capable of seduction and sadism. Ditto vampires, who bring their decadence with them into the afterlife.
It’s also pretty obvious that Myra’s name was originally “Eve.”
Kolchak’s discovery of the tapes while ransacking the lab is a bit glib as a resolution, considering that the audience is never really sure whether Myra watched the tape long enough to see her own transformation, either. The script is structurally different, too, opting to hold viewers through act breaks by having kills come at the beginning of acts rather than using them as climaxes (after the ads, rather than before).
The story wants to tackle a lot of things — sexism, Women’s Lib, noise pollution — but name-drops the topics rather than servicing them adequately.
* Nakajima manufactured Japanese aircraft during World War 2, similarly to the story told about Matsuda, in re motorcycles, by Jim Backus in “Chopper.” Matsuda was the forerunner of the company currently known as Mazda.
** Presumably the same watering hole Vincenzo and his cohorts drank to closing in “Firefall.”