"The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes" The Last Vampyre (TV Episode 1993) Poster

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TheLittleSongbird8 July 2010
I haven't read the story in a long time, but I do remember it being better and a little more interesting, even if I preferred other Sherlock Holmes stories. This adaptation while not absolutely awful was a disappointment.

Starting with the good things the visual detail is excellent as always and the production values are top-notch. The music is beautiful and haunting, and the acting is not too bad, it's been better but it was certainly one of the better assets of this mystery. Jeremy Brett does look ill here, but he is solid as Holmes, while Edward Hardwicke is a dignified Watson and Roy Marsden is decent in his role.

However, the direction is a little too stodgy, but I have to say the biggest let downs were in how the story was told, the pacing and the script. The pacing is very pedestrian here, consequently the story is quite uninteresting and dull, while the final solution didn't do anything for me as it was too predictable. The writing was disappointing too, it was quite turgid and clumsy, with occasional flashes of intelligence and sophistication.

Overall, watchable but disappointing. It is worth watching for the production values and the acting, but the story and writing could have been much more. 5/10 Bethany Cox
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Sucks the blood out of a great series
that_ealing_feeling17 January 2009
I'm a great fan of the Sherlock Holmes stories and the Granada TV series starring the magnificent Jeremy Brett, but The Last Vampyre is among the worst Holmes adaptations ever made. The story has almost nothing to do with Conan Doyle's The Sussex Vampire, and Holmes just doesn't belong in a Hammer-type supernatural setting. His milieu was the real, material world of late-Victorian London, to which he could apply his supremely rational mind. Also, in a long career of strange roles, Roy Marsden never played a less plausible role than he does here. On another tack, it's sad to see Jeremy Brett looking as ill as he does here - he could almost pass for a vampire himself. It might have been kinder to retire the series and the star a year or two before this unworthy addition to series was made.
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A Bloated Version of a Curious Holmes Story
theowinthrop9 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
In the last two seasons of the Jeremy Brett "Sherlock Holmes" stories several two hour versions were written that were not really that good. Only one, THE MASTER BLACKMAILER, proved well done, because it illustrated the effects of the blackmail on society victims. It also was helped by Robert Hardy's performance as Charles Augustus Milverton, the subject of the story. But the version of THE MAZARIN STONE (actually combined with THE THREE GARRIDEBS), and the insane version of THE NOBLE BACHELOR called THE ELLIGIBLE BACHELOR demonstrated the obvious: whatever the weaknesses of his stories at their worst, as in the final collection, Conan Doyle was better at writing his stories than a bunch of screenplay writers for television.

THE LAST VAMPYRE is another failure (I've given it a "5" for some of the performances, but just for that). It is based on a story called THE ADVENTURE OF THE SUSSEX VAMPIRE. Please note Conan Doyle used the modern spelling of the word, not the spelling of the 17th or 18th Century. THE SUSSEX VAMPIRE is a unique story in the Holmes canon because it is the only time that Conan Doyle decided to take his best know creations (Holmes and Watson) and have them deal with the supernatural. The story was published in the 1920s, but it may have been written earlier. Doyle had a habit of writing stories and putting them aside if he felt them inferior to his best work, but by 1921 or so he was committed to his personal crusade to such an extent that he did not really care if the stories he handed out were so good as his best anymore.

The irony of this attitude is that by 1921 Conan Doyle was committed to his support of "spiritualism" and other forms of "occult" issues. It is with this in mind that the basic contradiction of this story pops up. Homes and Watson get a letter from one Robert Ferguson, an old school chum of Watson's, who is upset at recent activities in his home. He has caught his second wife apparently sucking the blood of their baby son. He is asking Holmes to look into it. Naturally Holmes has to look at all possible explanations, and asks for the volume of his research files dealing with the letter "V" for "Vampire". Soon we get a look at how he files things (one "Victor Lynch" is filed under "V", as is Holmes' account of the "Voyage of the "Gloria Scott"", which is the subject of an earlier story by Watson). Finally he finds the entry for "Vampire". He reads a bit of it to himself, and one can see him get annoyed. He flings down the volume of his files, and calls the material rubbish. Finally he tells Watson that his detective agency has its feet on the ground and is not swayed by such nonsense.

See what I mean? How could the Conan Doyle of 1921 have written such a sensible comment, and still championed the "occult"? Unless, of course, the creative Conan Doyle somehow managed to separate himself from the crusading Conan Doyle. We'll probably never quite know how this happened.

The story goes into Holmes and Watson visiting the Fergusons, observing the lady of the household, her love for the infant, and the activities of others in the house, including the older half-brother of the baby Jackie. Eventually Holmes figures out what is the truth in the situation, and suggests a sensible solution to Ferguson.

Now aside from the Fergusons and Holmes and Watson, no other plot line was dragged into this story. It concentrated on the problem, the investigation, the solution, and the way to eradicate the problem from reoccurring. While not the best story in the Canon, THE ADVENTURE OF THE SUSSEX VAMPIRE was a good story and a reasonably intelligible one.

Not so THE LAST VAMPYRE. The screenplay writers suggested that there was an outside influence on the perpetrator - a mysterious man who has moved to the Sussex village the Fergussons live in. The man (Roy Marsden) always wears black, and rarely appears in the daylight. He is from a family with a sinister reputation in the village, involving "vampirism", and when he is confronted by one of the villagers he stares at the man, who suddenly is vomiting up blood and dies.

Now that interesting incident never appeared in Conan Doyle. It might have appeared elsewhere, but it has nothing to do with the story called THE ADVENTURE OF THE SUSSEX VAMPIRE. Nor does the subsequent fate of Marsden's character, or of two of the principles in the story. In fact it becomes a kind of ridiculous updating of some lesser Jacobean tragedy with all kinds of corpses littering the stage. The conclusion ends with a character going insane and dying as a result. Believe me, the original conclusion was far more calm, and - as said before - much more sensible.
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The Last Vampyre
claudia_reynolds13 January 2005
I am not in the habit of sending in my opinion, but I am such a fan of Conan Doyle's storytelling that I felt compelled.

The Sherlock Holmes productions with Jeremy Brett have always had a most impressive attention to authenticity, whether filming or adapting the writings of Conan Doyle. (The adaptations of almost all the other episodes were true to the characters of Holmes, Watson and the rest of the casts, and were sheer pleasure to watch.) This episode is a serious travesty to the original story, The Sussez Vampire. A very compelling story was totally ruined by the farrago of nonsense in this adaptation. It was presented as Northange Abbey on drugs. I have no idea why such a silly script was ever even considered. Other than to be able to say you saw this, please just fast forward over it.

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hardly Conan Doyle
didi-58 August 2003
Ridiculous meandering around the possibility that Roy Marsden's character might be a vampire like his forebears a century earlier - only the Granada team could pull this off. The fact that they do, make an entertaining tale and make the ending plausible, just goes to show the level of thought that went into these adaptations.

I just couldn't resist 'Ghosts need not apply.' Hilarious. And Keith Barron is good as the bereaved father with the tempestuous wife from foreign lands. No need to sing the praises of this Holmes and Watson - both an absolute joy to watch. The feature film length episodes complemented the short TV episodes perfectly.
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A truly horrible screen write of a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story, really really bad.
Tedo-574-6319815 November 2009
Don't get me wrong; Jeremy Brett and David Burke do their normal first rate acting jobs, the horribly written screenplay and plot give them a poor vehicle for their skills.

Most of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories in the Granada series hold true to the original. Sure maybe some of the dramatizations are over the top, still they stick to Sir Doyle's original story and allow Brett and Burke to give flesh to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

Unfortunately the last vampyre (left lower case on purpose) was written so poorly with TV type scenes and situations that even Basil Rathbone would have been embarrassed to play Sherlock in. He__, even Huckleberry Hound would have been embarrassed.

Preserve the image of Brett and Burke doing an incredible job of bringing Holmes and Watson to life; do not watch this episode.
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Confusing Pastiche
Robert J. Maxwell9 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
A stranger with piercing eyes moves into a small village and bad things begin to happen. A child dies. A dog is paralyzed. Young women show up with two small bloody marks on their necks. Holmes and Watson are call in, and it all gets very confusing.

It hasn't got anything to do with Conan-Doyle's "The Sussex Vampire." It looks instead like an attempt to make a traditional horror film with settings like foggy graveyard, bare ruined estates, a mysterious tree, a crippled boy, a stake through the heart of a staring corpse. Holmes seems to suffer an hallucination while the stranger with the exopthalmia cackles like a maniac a few feet away.

The stranger has learned the power to cloud men's minds, and women's too, from time he spent investigating mysteries of the Peruvian Indians. Something like that. There seems to be an infinite number of subplots involving mothers and maids.

It's a hash. You can find some quietly amusing nuggets in it. Holmes is at his desk, fiddling around with chemical junk, test tubes, and a bunsen burner and has asked Watson to read him any interesting items in the morning paper. "There is a new trend in women's headgear," reads Watson, and something goes poof and a small cloud rises at Holmes' desk, followed by an instant cut. The location shooting was as good as the best of any of the episodes and the acting isn't bad, except for Jeremy Brett's somewhat swollen features, a result of both age and the congestive heart failure from which he was suffering.

I just don't know why it was made.
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"My boot, you kiss my boot if you want it so bad." Another fine Holmes mystery.
Paul Andrews25 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The Last Vampyre starts with a prologue set in times past where a group of villagers burn a house down belonging to someone they believe is a vampyre. Fastforward 100 odd years later & Reverend Augustus Merridew (Maurice Denham) contacts legendary detective Sherlock Holmes (Jeremy Brett) & his assistant Dr. Watson (Edward Hardwicke) about the mysterious goings on in the village of Lambery since a stranger named John Stockton (Roy Marsden) arrived. The local villagers believe Stockton is a vampyre, Carter (Andrew Abrahams) the Blacksmith gorily died shortly after having an argument with Stockton, Miss Ruddock (Hilary Mason) an old spinster who lives opposite Stockton claims he never sleeps & the Reverend himself has seen Stockton prowl the church graveyard many times during the dead of night. At first Holmes seems uninterested but the Reverend goes onto say that Recardo (Anthony Price) the baby of Bob (Keith Barron) & Carlotta Ferguson (Yolanda Vazquez) died shortly after coming into contact with Stockton & that a unexplained plague is spreading through the village. Holmes accepts the case & faces superstitious locals & growing evidence that something supernatural may indeed be going on particularly after the Ferguson's maid Dolores (Juliet Aubrey) is found with two puncture wounds on her neck...

This made-for-TV English, American co-production was directed by Tim Sullivan & a fine adaptation it is too. I will openly admit now that I have not read the short story 'The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire' by Arthur Conan Doyle on which The Last Vampyre is based upon so I simply cannot compare the two, sorry. The script by Jeremy Paul is nice & involving as it draws you into the mystery but I was surprised that for the most part it doesn't centre on a murder. In fact Holmes states early on that no crime has been committed but accepts the case out of curiosity & it's mysterious elements. Once I got over that fact I became interested & engaged in the story which gripped me throughout as I really wanted to see where it was going. The character's are strong with plenty of mistrust, arguments, affairs & friendships & I liked where the story went as it built up to a pretty decent double twist ending as all is revealed. I have too say I didn't guess the outcome & bizarrely I couldn't stop thinking about the cool scene near beginning when Dolores the maid tries to make her boss's son Jack (Richard Dempsey) kiss her boots & what significance it had, or indeed will have, to the plot although to be fair the scene does have meaning in the context of the film, it's just a brief scene for some reason I couldn't stop thinking about whenever the character's reappeared on screen. Technically The Last Vampyre is very solid, while the budget probably wasn't huge the production is suitably impressive although there are still villages that look like the one in this in the UK even now, the props & settings are not too extravagant or detailed which gives it a certain bleak minimalist look & the costumes look & feel right. The acting is impressive from a good cast & I'm warming to Brett as Holmes having also seen his portrayal of the character in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1988) made a few years prior to this. Despite the fact that there is no murder for Holmes to investigate the other mystery elements of the story managed to grab & maintain my interest right through to the very satisfying climax where all is revealed. I think this is a must for Holmes & mystery fans alike & definitely worth a watch for more casual viewers as well, recommended.
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Wonderful movie and actors, but...
Leahcurry2 June 2005
I recently ran across some Sherlock Holmes movies with Jeremy Brett as Holmes. There is much to be compared between this Holmes and Watson to Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, whom I consider to be the very best actors for the roles. This time Dr. Watson seems to be as intelligent as Holmes, caring, but he is no lovable Nigel Bruce. Brett's Holmes is morose and unenthusiastic (unlike Basil Rathbone). Why does Holmes even want to be a detective here? He's a deep thinker and investigator, but he doesn't love it. Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce made their films (and radio shows) quite exciting, and this is too routine in comparison. However, this has plenty of suspense and vampire attacks (or were they?).

This isn't exactly a travesty to "The Sussex Vampire", but it had so many twists and turns and additional characters that it left me confused (especially at the end). The show is way too long and slow-moving. The addition of John Stockton was necessary, but the movie should have been shorter. It isn't exactly a travesty to the original story, but they had to add more stuff since the story is quite short, if not the shortest Holmes story Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote! The cast was great, particularly Richard Dempsey as Jack, the disturbed elder son of John Ferguson. By far the youngest to have a sizable role, his stage presence was equal or better than the adults, especially his father (John Ferguson), who seemed nice and caring but had a violent temper. What happens to the dysfunctional Ferguson family in the end isn't faithful at all to the original story, but it is still very interesting and is well made to make up for its flaws.
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This production neither bites nor sucks
TigerShark 9025 October 2011
This fourth Sherlock Holmes film from Granada is a loose adaptation of the short story titled "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire." Although the plot seems erratic at times and is difficult to follow, it still manages to hold your attention. In this story, Conan Doyle reveals his fascination with the occult as well a social commentary on how public and mass hysteria can create the illusion of something supernatural, when in fact it is something normal and natural - and easily explained. The production values are first class and the music by Patrick Gowers is dark and beautiful. The supporting cast is strong with Roy Marsden as Stockton. Jeremy Brett is still solid as Sherlock Holmes (even with his ongoing illness) and Edward Hardwicke makes an equally solid Watson. The film is overwrought but not the worst in the series either.
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