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Returning to his family's manor house on the lonely moors after his father dies under mysterious circumstances, Sir Henry Baskerville is confronted with the mystery of the supernatural hound that supposedly takes revenge upon the Baskerville family. The famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr. Watson are brought in to investigate. Written by
Jeremy Lunt <email@example.com>
Shortly after their brilliant adaptations of the classic tales of Frankenstein and Dracula, the glorious British Hammer Studios decided to have their take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's immortal detective Sherlock Holmes with "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (1959). This turned out to be a splendid idea, as the Hammer formula works magnificently with Doyle's work. Hammer once again teams up Horror's greatest duo, Peter Cushing (as Sherlock Holmes) and Christopher Lee (as Sir Henry Baskerville) in what is another one of many memorable collaborations of the two British Horror deities. In addition, the film features André Morell (who would also star in several other Hammer productions including "The Plague of the Zombies" of 1966) as Doctor Watson. Hammer's trademark eerie Gothic atmosphere with foggy grounds, dark forests etc. fits the "Baskervilles" story like a glove. It has been a while since I've last seen the classic adaptations with Basil Rathbone, and I do not wish to discuss which version of this particular tale is 'better', but I can say that this Hammer version is a truly great gem for every admirer of classic Mystery and Gothic cinema.
The film begins truly creepy, with a prologue set in the early 18th century, when Sir Hugo Baskreville, a cruel nobleman who likes to play sadistic games with peasants, gets what he had coming when he makes the encounter of a mysterious beast. From then on, the wild, dog-like creature is known and feared as the 'Hound of The Baskervilles'; according to a curse, this hound is supposed to return and kill any Bakerville who dares to enter the moorlands where Sir Hugo found his end... In the 1880s, the great detective Sherlock Holmes is told about the sudden and mysterious death of Sir Charles Baskerville, a descendant of Sir Hugo. Holmes and Doctor Watson travel to the Baskerville estate, in order to investigate and to meet the new owner, Sir Henry Baskerville, who does not believe in what he considers to be 'old wive's tales'... at first...
The film does change the plot of Doyle's classic novel in some details, mainly by adding Horror elements that underline the Hammer-typical creepiness and Gothic atmosphere. Cushing simply is the perfect choice to play Sherlock Holmes. This brilliant actor was fantastic in any role he played, of course, but that of the most famous detective in fiction is one of those that he is particularly predestined for. André Morell is great as Dr. Watson and Christopher Lee is, as always, magnificent in his role. Cushing and Lee truly were the ultimate duo in Horror cinema, and this is yet another fantastic collaboration of these two great men. It is easy to see why Christopher Lee and the late Peter Cushing were best friends in real-life, when watching their ingenious work in any of the films and they did together. Directed by Hammer's Nr. 1 director, Terence Fisher, "The Hound of the Baskervilles" is another great example for Hammer's glorious style of eerie yet beautiful settings, haunting atmosphere and suspenseful storytelling. The settings and photography are wonderful as in most classic Hammer tales, and the entire film is greatly crafted. Many years ago, this was one of the first Hammer films that I saw as a kid, and, after many re-viewings, I still immensely enjoy watching it as an adult. This great little gem only ranks slightly below the brilliant "Dracula" and "Frankenstein" adaptations, and definitely is a must-see for all Hammer fans. Highly recommended!
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