The Night Stalker is in the same small category of films as The Thin Man in which the title initially doesn't identify the hero but comes to be identified with him, so that Darren McGavin could eventually star in a series about Kolchak called The Night Stalker. The title notwithstanding, Moxey's film (the first of two that led up to the series, and once the highest-rated of all made-for-TV movies) is about Kolchak, who comes across as a slightly more benign version of Kirk Douglas's reporter from Ace in the Hole but is still a selfish, cynical, arguably alcoholic and slightly sleazy person, the sort who stands by snapping photos while a madman tosses cops about like rag dolls. He's a more credible, more skeptical character than the reflexively credulous, almost cartoon-like Kolchak of the weekly series, and it takes a realistic amount of time for him to start believing in what he ironically calls a "real live vampire."
Count Yorga, Wendigo points out that Yorga is still above such mundane stuff as driving a car or haggling over prices that we see or hear about Skorzeny doing. Yorga is still a relatively Gothic figure, a master vampire living in a mansion. Skorzeny is almost a working-class vampire, content to take victims smash-and-grab style or to raid a hospital blood bank. He's also minimally supernatural. He can't transform into anything and it's unclear exactly how much he can mesmerize people. His sole advantage is his strength, apart from the longevity benefits that come from drinking blood, though he has the traditional (as of Nosferatu) vulnerability to sunlight. Wendigo thinks this actually brings Skorzeny closer to folklore vampires than his cinematic predecessors, but in a way that makes him a fresh presence in horror.
Kolchak is an often-disconcertingly passive observer of the mayhem around him, but takes a more aggressive part when his own life is at stake.
Wendigo is definitely not hostile to romantic vampires; he likes Twilight, after all. But he likes the flexibility of the vampire motif, the fact that you can use it pretty much in any way imaginable, from one extreme to another. He has no preferred kind of vampire and won't say that one kind is right and another wrong. Instead, he's impressed by variety, and Skorzeny's minimalistic vampirism impresses him as much as many more fantastic or extravagant creatures. He also appreciates the way Night Stalker represents a change of pace for producer Dan Curtis, who pioneered the modern-day romantic vampire on Dark Shadows and would go on to do a very influential partially-romanticized Dracula with Jack Palance soon after.
Also very cool about The Night Stalker is the grungily-vivid footage of a now-vanished Las Vegas.
Like many TV movies from the Seventies, The Night Stalker differs from its cinematic counterparts only in lacking nudity, gore and cussing. Otherwise it's an energetic, admirably violent film that holds its own with cinematic vampire tales from the decade. For people who dislike today's romantic teeny vampires, Wendigo recommends this little gem as an antidote.