THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES. 1958. BASED ON THE STORY BY SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE. DIRECTED BY TERENCE FISHER. STARRING CHRISTOPHER LEE, PETER CUSHING, ANDRE MORELL, DAVID OXLEY, FRANCIS DE WOLFF, EWEN SOLON, MARIA LANDI, MILES MALLESON AND JOHN LE MESURIER. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
My first film of the Irish Film Institute’s 2015 Annual Horrorthon was Hammer’s version of THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES. It was shown to honour Sir Christopher Lee, who passed away over the summer of 2015. He may have been a respectable ninety-three years old, but it was still too soon as far as his loyal fans were concerned.
This movie was made the same year as the DRACULA film that transformed him into possibly the most popular- and certainly the sexiest- actor ever to don the cape and fangs. I couldn’t wait to see him on the big screen. The experience was everything I was hoping it would be.
Larger than life, young and tall and dark and handsome, striding about the giant screen in tight, off-white riding jodphurs and muddy knee-boots, slapping his riding-whip against his well-formed thighs… Well, let’s just say that it was the best Friday lunchtime I’d had in a while.
As an unexpected bonus, while we were waiting for the film to start we were treated to the sight of Christopher Lee in his various iconic film roles flashing up on the screen one after the other in succession: Lee as Dracula, Lee with Caroline Munro as the Count in DRACULA A.D. 1972, Lee as Scaramanga in the James Bond and some stunning fan-art of the great man as Count Dracula.
Incidentally, we were also shown images of film posters for some of Wes Craven’s most iconic films, like SCREAM, THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS and THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. Wes Craven of course, one of horror’s most iconic directors, passed away just a few short weeks after the death of Sir Christopher Lee. Sadly, it wasn’t a good year for horror fans. The Horrorthon will this year be honouring Wes Craven too by screening SCREAM, THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS and THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW.
Do we all know the story of Sherlock Holmes’s most famous and most exciting adventure? The tale of the depraved Sir Hugo Baskerville, who dies horribly at the hands- sorry, paws- of the titular hound after he chases a peasant girl across the moors with a view to killing her, is related to us at the start of the film by Dr. Mortimer.
Ah, the noise and clamour of the hounds, the swirling mist that wreathes the moors and the ruined abbey, the heaving bosoms of the girl as she desperately tries to evade the clutches of the horny Sir Hugo…! All these things contribute to make this trip-back-in-time absolutely spellbinding.
We know, of course, that England’s legendary detective Sherlock Holmes and his trusty assistant Dr. Watson are engaged by Dr. Mortimer to keep an eye on Sir Henry Baskerville. The handsome and aristocratic Sir Henry, handsomely and aristocratically played by Christopher Lee, is newly-returned from Johannesburg to take up residence in Baskerville Hall after the death in suspicious circumstances of his predecessor, Sir Charles. Is the legend of the Hound Of The Baskervilles true, or is it a more mortal agency that has it in for Sir Henry, the last of the Baskervilles? That’s what Holmes and Watson have to find out.
Peter Cushing’s cheekbones are razor-sharp as he dons the deerstalker cap and cape of ironically-named hounds’-tooth check to prowl the moors with Watson as his side. The good doctor is most solidly played by Andre Morell, and the comedy is provided by Miles Malleson, who does an hilarious turn as the dotty Bishop Franklin, the cleric with a deep love of bugs.
A pre-DAD’S ARMY John Le Mesurier acquits himself well as the faithful Baskerville family retainer, Barrymore. The ‘moors of Dartmoor,’ too, deserve a special credit for being extra-misty, extra-boggy, and extra-fecund and fertile with springy, heathery, moors-style vegetation. And the colours are simply glorious! The whole film is an absolute joy to watch. It’s my favourite screen adaptation of ACD’s HOUND, although Basil Rathbone and cuddly old Nigel Bruce come a close second in the black-and-white version from 1939.
I’m sure the late great Sir Chris was happy to observe, from his new lofty position, the crowd who gathered in his honour on a Friday lunchtime in late October to watch one of his best films. I hope he feels that we paid him the proper respect. Judging from the vibes I got from the crowd, everyone who was there was there out of love.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
1) ‘… BY A WOMAN WALKING HER DOG…’
2) A WRITER’S JOURNEY
3) ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA
4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
5) CANCER BALLS
6) CATCH OF THE DAY
7) FIFTY FILTHY-DIRTY SEX-POEMS YOU MUST READ BEFORE I DIE.
8) FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
9) THE DEVIANTS
10) VISITING DAY