The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) [31 Days of Hammer Horror Review]

With Halloween looming large at the end of the month, and Hammer Horror recently making its return to the world of comics courtesy of the fine folks at Titan Comics, we figured now was the perfect time to take a look some of the fantastic Hammer back catalogue.

So this month, Jules is planning to watch every single Hammer Horror movie and share his thoughts with you fine, horror loving people.

You can check out the rest of our “31 Days of Hammer” by CLICKING HERE.

Released: 1959
Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Andre Morell
Director: Terence Fisher

While not strictly a Hammer horror, the studio’s take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic mystery has enough of the atmosphere and trappings of the supernatural to justify it a place, if not firmly in the canon, at least alongside it.

Bringing back the double act of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee helps immeasurably too of course, but it’s the sense of dread and impending doom seeded throughout the entire film that really gives this first (and only) attempt at Sherlock Holmes it’s power to chill.

As Britain’s most famous detective duo, Holmes and his assistant Doctor Watson are commissioned to ensure the safety of Sir Henry Baskerville, last of his line and inheritor of the family estate on Dartmoor, where a curse involving a demonic hound has plagued his ancestors for generations.

Originally planned as the beginning of a series of Hammer Holmes outings, disappointing returns meant that the focus was firmly on horror from here on in, leaving us with one, fairly flawless example of what we could have had.

He’s rarely less than wonderful, but Peter Cushing was born to play Sherlock Holmes. An admitted huge fan of Doyle’s detective (to the extent he would swop lines from other stories during the filming if they fitted better), there’s a real sparkle in his performance that’s a real joy to watch. Cushing’s Holmes is a charming genius, a man with a lust for life and knowledge, a far cry from the aloof figure other actors have delivered.

It’s such a strong performance that the film actually lags slightly in the middle section when Holmes disappears. It’s still captivating, but Cushing’s absence is keenly felt, which is all the more surprising as we still have Christopher Lee’s Sir Henry as a main focus, alongside Andre Morell as a particularly unfussy and capable Dr Watson.

With his name already synonymous with both Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster, Lee gets a chance to break away from the type that would annoy him so much in later life. His Sir Henry is very much human, in love with a village girl while living in fear of a centuries old curse, allowing the actor a fair bit of range to play with.

One of the best adaptations of Sherlock Holmes ever, the only real negative of The Hound Of The Baskervilles is watching it knowing it was only meant to be part one. Sadly, we can but wonder just what we could have had.

Rating: 4.5/5.

JULESAV The Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy

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