Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Dick Van Patten Dies, Had Appeared on Kolchak: The Night Stalker

Dick Van Patten as Alfred Brindle

Actor Dick Van Patten, 86, died on June 23, 2015 (St. John's Eve), in Santa Monica, California. Most of the roles he played were of a wholesome, family man. There is one, however, that links him to aliens and a precursor X-Files-like aura.

Van Patten played Alfred Brindle, an upset homeowner, in the television series, Kolchak: The Night Stalker: Season 1, Episode 3, "They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be...", first broadcast on September 27, 1974.

The episode had a unique storyline with regard to alien visitors, what their reasons are for visiting Earth, and Kolchak's discovery of them and their motivations.

From the IMDb, this is a detailed overview of the plot:
An alien visitor with a taste for human bone marrow is stealing a strange list of seemingly unconnected items.
On his way to see the first game of the World Series, Kolchak can't pass up looking into the mysterious deaths of a security guard and several animals at the zoo. While there, he learns that the guard had been drained of all his bone marrow. 
During his travels, Kolchak witnesses the wall at an electronics factory being blown out by an invisible force that also makes a huge shipment of lead ingots vanish before his eyes. He later visits a neighbourhood, the scene of a rash of thefts of electronics equipment, where a mysterious black substance has been found- the same substance discovered at the scene of the incidents at the zoo.
Also strange, Kolchak and everyone else who'd witnessed the incident at the electronics factory finds that their watch has stopped due to exposure to electro magnetic radiation. 
As Kolchak begins to form a theory about what may be behind all this bizarre phenomena, he discovers his investigation has attracted the attention of "men in black" who visit the newsroom and confiscate his photos of the incident at the electronics plant. Carl soon puts the rest of the pieces together when the invisible force enters a local planetarium and begins scanning star maps. When the entity later exits the premises, Carl tracks it with a compass that reacts to it's electro magnetic emanations. 
In a wooded area near yet another body, Kolchak discovers that this invisible creature has been using all the electronic equipment to repair it's spaceship. The alien then moves in to attack Kolchak, but he is able to repel it with the sound vibrations from his camera. The reporter then watches as the saucer-shaped craft simply disappears into thin air.
Though burdened with a rather awkward title, "They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be..." definitely has its merits. The alien's attacks, for example, are shot effectively using subjective camera angles that close in tight on the faces of its victims. Since the unseen being moves with the force of a small cyclone, the musical arrangement employs the frenzied strains of a violin to neatly approximate the sound of a tumultuous wind. 
Though not as frightening as some of Kolchak's other adversaries, the alien's habit of sucking the marrow from its victims bones is certainly a unique method of murder. This also leads to the episode's funniest scene in which Carl relates all the ghoulish details of the alien's rampage to Vincenzo who is trying to enjoy a gourmet meal. As he describes it, "at the scene of each of these deaths is a puddle, a pile of this gooey, greenish, black bile. It really stinks, Tony." Naturally, Vincenzo loses his appetite entirely when the next course on the menu turns out to be brains. 
There's some excellent guest-star work here, too from Dick Van Patten as an irate homeowner, John Fielder, back as "Gordie the Ghoul", and Mary Wickes as a zoo coroner. The obligatory "Get outta' here, Kolchak!"-type police nemesis is played by familiar character actor, James Gregory.
While we never actually see the alien, director Allen Baron does give us a sense of its size by casting a vaguely defined silhouette of it on the planetarium wall. Unfortunately, the departure of the U.F.O. is not so effective. To indicate that it has taken off, the lights on the craft simply go out, but you can clearly make out that the saucer is still sitting there in the dark. 
The pace during the planetarium sequence does drag a bit, and the horror element in this one is left a bit too much to the imagination. Still, it appears "They Have Been.." may have impressed someone out there as it does bear quite a resemblance to a 1996 X-Files episode, the plot of which had unseen extraterrestrials attacking humans and rendering zoo animals invisible before confiscating them. Perhaps it was meant to be The X-File's tribute to this flawed, but still quite interesting, imaginative episode. Source.

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