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The Hound of the Baskervilles: The Limited Edition Series (1959) - Blu-ray Review

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The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) - Blu-ray Review

5 beersHammer AND Holmes?!  Whaaaat? 

While technically not a horror film, Hammer Film’s adaptation of The Hound of Baskervilles, is one of the studio’s very best offerings.  Starring Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes and Christopher Lee as Sir Henry Baskerville, this gothic mystery has aged incredibly well and, after a critical reception that was lukewarm to begin with, it is now considered a classic of the genre.  And Cushing’s first performance as Holmes, being quite literal and exact thanks to his own understanding of the role as a fan, might be a bit too even-textured for some, know that he is easily whipped into a bout of mania when on the hunt for clues and the game is afoot.

Directed by longtime Hammer associate Terence Fisher (The Curse of Frankenstein, The Horror of Dracula), the film is masterfully adapted from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book by Peter Bryan who plugs in some Hammer flair nicely.  The narrative tackles the longstanding curse of the Baskerville family as a new family member is moving into the recently vacated Baskerville manor. 

According to the curse, any male descendant of the brutal lord Sir Hugo Baskerville (David Oxley featured in the opening prologue) cannot go near the moor on the property after night has begun without fear of death.  Terror stalks all Baskervilles.  But what is it? 

As Holmes and Doctor Watson (authoritatively played here by André Morell) listen to Dr. Richard Mortimer (Francis De Wolff) and his plea for them to help with safe passage for his friend, Sir Henry (Lee), Holmes suspects something is amiss.  He is intrigued enough to help, though, and springs into action.  What he discovers has more to do with greed and family secrets than with the supernatural, but the ghastly creaks and creeps in the estate makes for a jolly fun ride to the far deadlier truth in the matter of the Baskervilles estate.

Fiscer directs Hammer like few others.  He knows the madness of Hammer and can celebrate it well with cinematic flairs and flashes of brilliance; the opening tracking shot being a starting point.  Also helping with the production are producer Anthony Hinds, cinematographer Jack Asher, composer James Bernard, production designer Bernard Robinson and makeup artist Roy Ashton; all hoping to recreate the magic of Hammer’s earlier horror triumphs.  Unfortunately, it didn’t happen with this release and therefore cancelled all efforts to extend the property under Hammer's guidance.  To this day, I am still puzzled as to how this film could not have been anything but a hit in 1959. 

The Hound of Baskervilles is hands down one of the finest productions of Holmes.  It has thrills – the unexpected spider attack being the first to resonate – and kills – with the 10-minute prologue being most dynamic in the death of the servant girl (Judi Moyens) by knife and dogs – and spills, most notably the quicksand saving of Watson and the haunted moor.  It also – as it is a Hammer film – upped the voluptuous women in the story by throwing in, as Cher put it, gypsies, tramps, and thieves.  Oohh la la.

And the cast – including Marla Landi as Cecile Stapleton, Ewen Solon as Stapleton, Miles Malleson as Bishop Frankland, and John Le Mesurier as Barrymore – are absolutely top-notch.  They easily match the opulent riches of the set design, making this gothic tale as sinister as it is striking.

Thanks to the fine efforts of Twilight Time, The Hound of Baskervilles is now available on blu-ray.  But, hurry, the release is limited to 3000 copies and will be gone before you know it.  And then a whole new mystery will begin...

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
87 mins
Director
: Terence Fisher
Writer:
Peter Bryan
Cast:
Peter Cushing, André Morell, Christopher Lee
Genre
: Horror | Mystery
Tagline:
Ten times the terror in Technicolor!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Let the hounds of Hell take me if I can't track her down!"
Theatrical Distributor:
United Artists
Official Site:
Release Date:
July 3, 1959
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 14, 2016
Synopsis: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous story gets the gorgeously gothic Hammer treatment in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), starring Peter Cushing as a wry and brilliant Sherlock Holmes, André Morell as an unusually sensible Dr. Watson, and Christopher Lee as Sir Henry Baskerville, seemingly threatened by a ghastly family curse. Horror stalwart Terence Fisher directs, and James Bernard provides the atmospheric music.

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Twilight Time Movies
Available on Blu-ray
- June 14, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.66:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English 1.0 DTS-HD MA
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

 

Twilight Time releases The Hound of Baskervilles on blu-ray with a 1080p transfer that has been framed in 1.66:1.  The colors are solid, making the HD upgrade a worthy endeavor.  Skin tones are appropriately saturated.  Details in the backgrounds and in the textures of the costumes are noticeable and appreciated it.  And the black levels are solid with thick, unwavering lines.  The moors are authentically replicated with a fine brown texture and the fog is aplenty.  The sound is atmospheric and immortal thanks to an engrossing English 1.0 DTS-HD MA track of atmosphere.

 

Supplements:

Commentary:

  •  

    There are two audio commentaries included with the purchase of the movie.  The first is with Film Historians David Del Valle and Steven Peros and the second is with Film Historians Paul Scrabo, Lee Pfeiffer, and Hank Reineke.  Both cover the same territory at times, but make for interesting listens if you are a fan of Holmes and Hammer Films.

     

Special Features:

Twilight Time loves to reward composers.  Included with the supplementals is an isolated music and effects track, the Actor’s Notebook with Sir Christopher Lee, a new discussion with the creator of the hound mask, and audio excerpts from key chapters in the book as read by Sir Christopher Lee.

  • Isolated Music & Effects Track
  • Actor's Notebook: Christopher Lee
  • Hound Mask Creator Margaret Robinson on The Hound of the Baskervilles
  • Christopher Lee Reads Excerpts from The Hound of the Baskervilles
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) - Blu-ray Review

 

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) - Blu-ray Review

 

 

 

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