Monday, February 6, 2012

DJS Presents The Unfilmed Kolchak: The Get of Belial


Kolchak: The Night Stalker

“The Get of Belial”


We here at KTNS, otherwise known as ICHH (icch!) are well aware that Moonstone Comics rendered adaptations of the two most “famous” unfilmed KTNS teleplays, “Eve of Terror” and “The Get of Belial.”  But our aim is to present a more unvarnished look at the script pages that do exist, with particular bias toward Kolchak’s encounters with his stringers or his INS cohorts — two of the most recurrently popular and enduring aspects of the series.

Unlike a standard KTNS episode, Kolchak’s voice-over doesn’t intrude until page five (page three of actual scenario).  The January 3rd, 1975 revised draft was written by Don Mullally, one of the six writers who cobbled up “The Devil’s Platform,” and “Belial” brings Kolchak face-to-face once again with a hellish, or Hellish, antagonist.  As we FADE IN to an unnamed town in “West Virginia Mountain Country” …

ACT ONE


EXT. ASSOCIATED ANTHRACITE BLDG. – DAY


Observed by a laconic patrol car, a tatty group of miners is conducting a STRIKE, picketing the main office.  KOLCHAK is seen keeping pace with one of the pickets, taping away.

KOLCHAK
You look for the strike to go on much longer?

PICKET
No way.  Mine owners are caving in all over the state – except for this mother.  With the pressure he’s gotta be getting from the other owners, how long can he hold out?

KOLCHAK
You’re talking about Glenn Maynard, president of Associated?

PICKET
Yeah, that s.o.b. …

As they speak, MAYNARD pulls up in a station wagon, warning the pickets he’ll plow right through them if they don’t move.  The pickets begin to rock the car and pound it with their signs.  Police chief ROD PEOPLES debarks and saunters over.  He’s young, soft-spoken but authoritative, and he effortlessly pushes several of the pickets away from the car.

PEOPLES
You don’t want your union to have to buy a new paint job for Mr. Maynard … right?  Just cool it now, hear?

KOLCHAK (VO)
That was the scene in Winship County, West Virginia.  Labor trouble in the mines wasn’t breeding nobility on either side.  Tempers were worn to the breaking point.  It was ugly.  But what was moving into Winship County would make the strike seem like a wedding party.

BEHIND Kolchak, an ancient pickup truck groans into view, towing a dilapidated box trailer.  The bed is loaded with belongings and furniture, covered by a tarp.  On top of this tottering heap sits TOM BLACKSHEAR, a bearded young giant in solid denim.  Shoulder-to-shoulder inside the cab sit RICHARD BLACKSHEAR, his mother SARAH, and her husband HENRY, who drives, working a cheekfull of snuff.  Richard gives directions to the outskirts of town, where an abandoned coal company hamlet sits, dead and boarded up.  The Blackshear truck parks behind a rural, one-room schoolhouse — the largest, best-preserved building in the shanty town.

SARAH
Looks nice, Richard.

TOM
We oughta be okay here ‘til they come with the bulldozers.

HENRY
Won’t be doin’ that while the strike’s on.  Be okay for your boy.

SARAH
Our boy, Henry …

They have come to the barren basement of the schoolhouse and peer down into darkness.

HENRY
(to Richard and Tom)
Give me a hand with it.

The men unhitch the box trailer and back it up to the cellar door.  They TILT it downward, then STRAIN against a large, bulky, burlap-covered object.  UNGODLY CRIES AND MOANS issue from beneath the tarp, which falls askew long enough to reveal a thickly-barred CAGE.  The men hoist the cage into the cellar and begin “walking” it toward the far wall.  Sarah is almost beside herself with anxiety.

HENRY
Watch it now … watch your hands, Richard!

A HAIRY CLAW with taloned nails pierces the burlap and fastens onto Richard’s arm.  As he screams in pain, Henry smacks the claw with a broken chunk of timber as Sarah rushes in.  She reprimands Tom and moves to the cage, making a peculiar, cooing, maternal sound.  The claw relaxes and Richard recoils, clutching his bleeding arm.

ACT TWO


KOLCHAK (VO)
October 2nd, 1:30 A.M.  Glenn Maynard, mine executive, was on his way home after a long day at the bargaining table.  He was about to lose the most important negotiation of his life … get a package deal, with death as the bottom line.

Maynard avoids the pickets as he drives home but “something” is watching him as he moves toward his porch.  In one giant, ungainly bound, Maynard is attacked.  To the sounds of “tearing, rending death” we see his chewed cigar stub roll across his driveway.

INT. SCHOOLHOUSE – DAY


Tom Blackshear discovers the EMPTY cage in the basement, the hasp on its heavy-duty padlock twisted out of shape.

HENRY
Woulda swore no livin’ thing could bust that lock.

SARAH
Must’ve gotten out last night.  I had a dream … I was praying … and the Lord came to me …

Sarah is interrupted by a LOW, VICIOUS GROWL.  The family turns to see the “Creature” framed in the doorway – matted hair, deep-set glowing eyes, fanged and lumbering.  The male Blackshears are clearly repulsed, but Sarah goes to the Creature, touching its shoulder and leading it back to the cage.

SARAH
You’ve come home … you’ll be all right now …

HENRY
Get him settled.  Me and you’s going into town.  See if we can find out what he did this time.

EXT. MAYNARD HOUSE – DAY


Kolchak snaps photos of DEAD MAYNARD.  Peoples is present, as is newly-widowed CLAUDIA MAYNARD, in near hysteria.  She interferes with the morgue men, clearly distraught, and her friends are unable to restrain her.  From the Blackshear truck, Sarah comes to intervene.

HENRY
Sarah … now you stay out of this, you hear?

SARAH
I can’t.  That lady needs me.

Claudia pitches a fit, trembling and rigid on the ground.  Unhelping spectators gather ‘round but it is Sarah who kneels at Claudia’s side and touches her forehead.

SARAH
Lord, heal this woman, thy child who is heavily burdened.  Free her of her torment.

Claudia slowly relaxes.  The watcher’s are amazed by Sarah’s apparent healing power.  Claudia smiles up at Sarah.

But back at the schoolhouse, the Creature goes into a FRENZY in its cage.

TOM
Oh, hell – listen to him!

RICHARD
Yeah, Ma’s done the Lord’s work again and he’s all wired in.  Maybe we can stop him this time.

They enter the basement, Richard leading with a cattle prod.  The cage rocks back and forth and suddenly EXPLODES open, the door driving both men back, the Creature LEAPING over them to freedom.

EXT. TREE-LINED LANE – DAY


KOLCHAK (VO)
Al and Gracie were ideally married … to a couple of other people.  They simply lived for these little mid-day trysts, those long walks in the piney woods, hand-in-hand, to their secret place …

AL and GRACIE have wandered down to a grassy knoll by a meandering stream.  They are about to hit the dirt when Al spies a pair of eyes watching them from the shrubs, red-rimmed and menacing.  A POUNCE, and Al is smashed down as Gracie FLEES.  In two bounds the Creature catches her, dragging her down as she SCREAMS.

KOLCHAK (VO)
Today, those stolen moments that they lived for were to be the death of them.

ACT THREE


INT. VINCENZO’S OFFICE AT INS - DAY


Outside the El rushes by, shaking the entire building.

VINCENZO
(yelling)
Kolchak – I can’t hear you!  Sounded like you said you wanted … combat pay?

KOLCHAK
(inside a phone booth)
You heard me, Tony – this town is a powder keg and some nut is playing with matches!  Three people killed, and I’ve got a feeling that’s just for openers.  You getting all this, Uptight?

Across the office on an extension, RON UPDYKE is making notes with his usual expression of annoyance.

UPDYKE
(to phone)
I have the names, ages, and occupations of the three victims.  Your description of the bodies, which, parenthetically, our papers will not print … and I have yet to hear anything about the progress, or lack of it, in the strike negotiations.

VINCENZO
Yeah, Kolchak – people up here want to know what a ton of coal is going to cost this winter.

KOLCHAK
If this war breaks open down here, they can start praying for a mild winter!

UPDYKE
Well, we certainly can’t expect our papers to print that, either!

KOLCHAK
Write anything you want, Uptight, just don’t make it sound like it belongs on the financial page!

UPDYKE
I will remind you that coal is very big in our economy!

KOLCHAK
And I will remind you that Vincenzo is paying for this long-distance phone call.  Besides, I’ve gotta to go a wake …
(he hangs up)

Ron picks up his pad and makes a huffy exit.  Tony throws a Chicago phone book at the wall.

INT. BRANNIGAN HOUSE – DAY


KOLCHAK (VO)
Al’s widow, Joni Brannigan, was taking it.  She was a miner’s wife; her father was a miner.  Death wasn’t that much of a stranger in her life.

Al’s COFFIN takes up most of the living room.  Kolchak moves around a huge buffet setup, systematically helping himself.  Chief Peoples suggests to Joni his theory that the killer hid in the back of Al’s car as he picked up Gracie for a “ride home.”  That the killer “forced” Al to drive to the lonely spot.  That Gracie’s husband was himself another “victim” of the mine – wheechair-bound, “dead from the waist down.”  Kolchak approves of Peoples’ effort to cover for a potentially nasty situation, actually complimenting the cop:

KOLCHAK
Chief, that was a very kind thing you did in there.  Mrs. Brannigan had to wonder what Al was doing out there in the piney wood with another woman.

PEOPLES
(shrugs)
Could’ve happened just like I said.

Sarah Blackshear enters the wake long enough to leave a covered pot, which Kolchak sniffs.  When he tails her outside, he gets a good look at Richard Blackshear, driving the pickup truck.

EXT. POLICE STATION – DAY


Peoples conducts a press conference.

PEOPLES
I want you to know that I’ve talked to both sides, union and management.  Told them to cool it or I’ll be on the horn to the Governor – bring troops in here.

KOLCHAK
Chief, maybe you’re talking to the wrong people.  These killings could have nothing to do with the strike.

PEOPLES
I say they do.

KOLCHAK
How do you explain the fact that all the victims died the same way – killed by a hand pick, according to you.

PEOPLES
Ever hear of “an eye for an eye?”  Maynard’s killer set the pattern.

KOLCHAK
I’ve heard of it, but how come the score is four eyes to two?

PEOPLES
(shrugs)
The girl was a witness – they had to kill her too.

Peoples discourages Kolchak’s attempts at further poking.  Outside, Kolchak notices the Blackshear truck and copies its Pennsylvania license number before he encounters both Richard and Tom Blackshear in the Associated Anthracite picket line.  They are sullen and unhelpful, but Kolchak notices Richard’s injured arm, remembering the slashes seen on all the victims.

KOLCHAK (VO)
Pennsylvania DMV gave me a make on the pickup.  Registered owner, Henry Blackshear, Hamilton, Pennsylvania.  Hamilton was another mining town.  Something in my gut told me that wasn’t all it had in common with this part of West Virginia.

INT. HAMILTON POLICE STATION – DAY


Kolchak quizzes local police chief WOODRUFF.

KOLCHAK
You said there were some similar killings – how many?

WOODRUFF
Five.

KOLCHAK
No arrests?

The case is still active.  Kolchak sees photos from the case file.  The string of deaths ended on August 22nd.

KOLCHAK (VO)
I wanted a reading on the Blackshear’s old neighbors – what kind of people were they?  The neighbors gave them good marks.  Sarah – Mrs. Blackshear – was a living saint.  She could heal people even after regular doctors gave up.  All she had to do was pray and touch them!  All the neighbors remembered the murders.  None of them seemed to pick up on the fact that they started shortly after the Blackshears moved to Hamilton … and stopped just before they moved on.

Kolchak sneaks a phone call to MISS EMILY in the INS office, asking her to investigate mutilation murders in Appalachia during certain dates.  But Vincenzo approaches her desk in time to hear:

EMILY
Yes, Carl … yes, Carl …

VINCENZO
That Kolchak?!
(he grabs the phone from Emily)

KOLCHAK
Whatever you do, sweetheart, don’t say anything about this to Tony.

VINCENZO
(livid)
Anything about what, Kolchak?

KOLCHAK
(solemn)
We wanted to surprise you.  Miss Emily’s meeting me in Miami.  We’re getting married!

Kolchak quickly hangs up to a strangling sound at the other end.

KOLCHAK (VO)
Dear old Miss Emily came through for me, but not in Miami.  Her telegram was waiting for me at the hotel.  Quote: “Following communities report similar incidents, et cetera, “ unquote.  One more piece filled out the puzzle, then it was Chief Peoples’ baby.

At the local union office, Kolchak inquires about the Blackshear boys’ recent transfer.  But ROY KETTLE is not about to give a reporter confidential information.  When he lunchbreaks at a pool hall where the Blackshear boys are watching the action, he mentions Kolchak to Tom and Richard.  As Kolchak storms out of the union office, the Blackshear pickup buckets past and Kolchak tails it.  Tom notices the rental car dogging them.

TOM
What d’we do about that?

RICHARD
See what happens when I make out turn.  Lots of places we can wait for him, if he’s tailing us.

Kolchak sees them, too, and drives past, continuing for about a quarter-mile or so before wheeling around.

KOLCHAK (VO)
It looked like a trap.  If I ran into that rathole after them … goodbye.  I gave them fifteen minutes to decide they weren’t being followed  … come out.  They didn’t.  So along came Kolchak.

Wary, Kolchak drives up to the shanty town.  Smoke wisps from the schoolhouse chimney.  He sees signs of habitation but no one seems to be around.  Mattresses, tables, chairs.  A fueled Coleman lantern.  A warm pot of stew on the stove, which Kolchak samples – not bad!  In the basement, Kolchak finds the broken cage.  The basement doors SLAMS.  In the sudden darkness, Kolchak is SKULLED by a blunt instrument and BLACKS OUT.

RICHARD
Hey, Pa!  Open up!

Richard thumps the door with said “blunt instrument” and Henry OPENS the door from without, revealing Kolchak unconscious on the floor.

ACT FOUR


Kolchak regains consciousness inside the now-ABANDONED schoolhouse.  He goes directly to Peoples, but Peoples shoots him down:  The Blackshears have moved on, yet there has been another attack.

On the road, at night, Sarah and Henry Blackshear argue in the cab of the truck:

HENRY
I’ve had it, Sarah!  We’re through running, hiding.  If he comes back, or if we find him, we’re going to the police.  Take the consequences.

SARAH
Henry, he’s our flesh.  He might change back the way he was.  It’s our cross …

HENRY
It hasn’t happened.  It’s not going to happen.  Even you have to know that, now.

Peoples and Kolchak, speeding one after the other to the scene of the latest killing, roar right past the Blackshear pickup, stopped on the shoulder.  Kolchak is torn between the two but decides to stick with Peoples.

They boy of a young mining couple has been attacked.  Not dead, but in terminal shock, with wounds identical to those of the murder victims.

Without so much as a by-your-leave, Sarah Blackshear waltzes in and performs another of her “miracles” on the injured boy.

But a few blocks away, a crippled young woman watching television is confronted by the Blackshear Creature when it smashes through a side window of her home.  It yanks her from her chair as she screams for her husband, HARRY.  Harry comes piling into the room toting a Winchester.  He shoots the Creature at least three times and it retreats, howling, into the darkness.

Kolchak HEARS the shots and sprints toward their source.  He is bowled over by none other than the fleeing Creature, which batters him aside as Harry’s slugs pepper the air over their heads.

ACT FIVE


Peoples is intent on organizing a posse to track down the wounded Creature, and ignores Kolchak’s plea to confront the Blackshears, who are getting back in their truck to drive away from the scene.  As the truck moves away, Kolchak runs after it – finally leaping lightly into the rear bed.

(Now there’s a miracle – unless all four “normal,” still-living Blackshears are all piled into the cab – DJS.)

Hounds baying in the distance, the Blackshear Creature (unencumbered by its bullet wounds) lumbers back to its latest hiding place seconds after the Blackshear truck precedes it.  It is an abandoned mine.  Weathered signs read MINE CLOSED.  NO TRESPASSING.  VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED.  ASSOCIATED ANTHRACITE, INC.

As Henry helps his wife down from the cab, his hand comes away bloodied.  Sarah bleeds from places identical to where the Creature was wounded.

SARAH
(matter-of-factly)
It’s the blood of our son.  He’s been shot, Henry.

Kolchak tails them through a mine shack and into a primary shaft.  The boards that once secured it now hang askew.  Then Kolchak feels a rifle prodding his back.

TOM
(using flashlight)
Hey … you’re the cat who was asking all the questions.

KOLCHAK
You got me.

They approach a vertical shaft – a big hole in the floor of the tunnel.  Tom shouts down:

TOM
Pa!  Hey, Pa!  Caught a guy foolin’ around up here!  Sendin’ him down!

KOLCHAK
How?

TOM
There’s an iron ladder.  Move!  And don’t try anything funny!

KOLCHAK
You mean we couldn’t use a good laugh?

Several levels DOWN, the Blackshears have set up housekeeping once again.  Other tunnels fan out from the black wall of the chamber into which Tom ushers Kolchak.

HENRY
(cold-eyed)
What’re you doin’ here?

KOLCHAK
I was looking for the Blackshear family.

RICHARD
You found us.

KOLCHAK
But you’re not all present.  Where’s the one you usually keep in a cage?

SARAH
(sighs)
Sonny.  Our youngest boy.

HENRY
Shut up, Sarah!

SARAH
No.  You said we hid him long enough.

KOLCHAK
You did say you kept your son in that cage?

HENRY
I don’t care what anybody thinks.  We done the best we could.

KOLCHAK
But the cage couldn’t hold him … nothing could.  And he killed people when he got away.

SARAH
(nods)
Because of me.  My call to do the Lord’s work.  It was Belial’s way of tempting me.

KOLCHAK
Belial?  The Devil?

SARAH
Yes.  Sonny was a beautiful child.  Then the changes began.  I was healing the sick, as my God commanded.

KOLCHAK
Those changes – how did you know it was the Devil?

RICHARD
Old Belial offered Ma a deal.  We all heard it.  The voice out of nowhere.  Scared the hell out of us!  We could have Sonny back just the way he used to be … if Ma’d just get off the salvation kick.

KOLCHAK
And you couldn’t buy it?

SARAH
Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.  I had to believe that God was stronger than the Devil.

TOM
(rushing in)
Pa!  Cops up there!  All over!  And dogs, coming this way!

HENRY
He’s led ‘em to us … we’re getting out of here.

KOLCHAK
How?

HENRY
(indicating)
Air shaft.  About a quarter mile down that tunnel.  Me ‘n Richard checked it out; open all the way to the surface.

Henry decides to keep Kolchak with them, but when a shower of rocks and debris rains down, Kolchak escapes back the way they came.  Richard starts to chase after him.

HENRY
No!  We’re getting out of here while we can.  No way he’s going to find his way back without a light.

As Kolchak gropes his way back to the chamber, the Creature leaps down from the ladder.  Peoples and his posse are firing shots down, from above.  Kolchak circles the room like a prizefighter playing the ropes, but the Blackshear’s youngest get is upon him.  Kolchak pulls a ratty mattress over himself for protection and suddenly realizes he is not longer being attacked.  The Blackshear Creature has gathered Sarah’s blanket to its face, and is momentarily acquiesced.  Kolchak slowly makes for the ladder … climbing gently up …but the dog-barks coming from above snap the Creature back to reality.  It LUNGES.  But Kolchak pulls up his legs at the last second and the Creature grabs empty space, FALLING into the deep shaft below.  It HOWLS all the way down.

Peoples descends the ladder.

PEOPLES
Kolchak, what are you doing down here?  You gotta have an answer, and it better be a zinger.

KOLCHAK
Chief, you told me to get away from you – far away.  I tried.

PEOPLES
Where’s whatever it is I been chasing all night?  Dogs tracked it here.  Did you see anything?

KOLCHAK
Yeah.  More than I wanted.  That scream you heard – it tripped.

PEOPLES
I want a gurney down here.  All the rope we can get.  We’ll lower it a level at a time.

KOLCHAK
All right if I go with you?

PEOPLES
How long’s it been since you climbed a mile?

They DESCEND.  When they finally reach bottom, Kolchak’s hands are blistered, frozen in a grasping attitude.  In the beam of Peoples’ flashlight we see a HANDSOME YOUNG MAN – crushed, wearing the rags of the Blackshear Creature.

PEOPLES
You call that a monster?  I’d like to know what in hell is going on!

KOLCHAK
I’ve got to hand it to you, Chief, you’re in the territory.  Hell is where it’s at.

INT. VINCENZO’S OFFICE – DAY


As Tony pounds his fist on the desk in his usual high dudgeon.

VINCENZO
I sent you to cover a strike in the mines.  And where were you when the strike was settled?

KOLCHAK
About a mile underground.  But it was a coal mine, Tony.

VINCENZO
Big deal!  Every wire service in the country scooped us!

KOLCHAK
Sorry.  But the strike settlement wasn’t the big story.

VINCENZO
(acidly)
Tell me.

KOLCHAK
(wearily, shaking his head)
Are you ready to accept a living Devil … Satan … the Prince of Darkness?

VINCENZO
I have to, Kolchak.  I hired you, didn’t I?
(then, bellowing)
Out!  Get out of here!

As Kolchak recoils, we FADE OUT/END.

#

            David Chase recalled “The Get of Belial” for Mark Dawidziak’s Companion as requiring “expensive location shooting,” but that’s not really germane.  The rural setting and mining towns were pre-thought to make use of Universal’s standing Western backlot sets, and it sure would have been nice to see some of the scenes shot using the legendary Bronson Cave location in nearby Griffith Park.
            A stronger speculation is that the religious content was a turn-off.  God – in God’s typical looky-loo role – doesn’t do much to ease the Blackshear’s pain, even while Sarah Blackshear is easing the pain of everyone around her.
            Sonny Blackshear’s fate was also identical to the fate of Myra Deckbar in “Eve of Terror.”  Splat — now they look normal — end of story.
            Sonny probably would have been depicted as another of KTNS’ “monster hairbags,” which again raises the puzzle of who actually did the makeups and monster suits that were seen during the series run.  I can find no such credit anywhere, nor has anybody stepped forward to claim it.
            Discuss.

# # # # # # # #

2 comments:

  1. I like the sound of this one. Original setting, religious background, and a different approach to the usual monster in that there's a family protecting him. It has a different feel to it that could have made it at least a valiant attempt. Makes me sorry we didn't get to see more Kolchak.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree with John, about the offbeat flavors of this tale making it interesting... But I also agree with David's point about the religious angle being a little dicey. The way things are set up here, it's a battle between God and Lucifer, with Lucifer winning hands down. "Man's extremity is God's opportunity," Sarah proclaims in a fascinating line of dialogue. "I had to believe God was stronger than the Devil." Not in this scenario. For all her Faith and admirable need to help others, Sarah is punished in the cruelest way possible. A rather daring concept, this, but a tough sell for network TV. By the way, I couldn't help picturing Jeanette Nolan in the role of Sarah... she and husband John McIntire had finished their VIRGINIAN duties a few years earlier, and I assume both were still active (actually, John could've done a semi-cameo as first victim Glenn Maynard). Oh, and another, final point... wedded bliss for Kolchak and Miss Emily? Guess the Rakshasa was on to something after all!

    ReplyDelete